Knowledge Is Power When It Comes to Appraisals and Inspections
Buyers in today's market often have questions about the importance of getting a home appraisal and an inspection. That's because high buyer demand and low housing supply are driving intense competition and leading some buyers to consider waiving those contingencies to stand out in the crowded market.
But is that the best move? Buying a home is one of the most important transactions in your lifetime, and it's critical to keep your best interests in mind. Here's a breakdown of what to expect from the appraisal and the inspection, and why each one can potentially save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.
". . . lenders typically require an appraisal to ensure that your loan-to-value ratio falls within their underwriting guidelines. Mortgages are secured loans where the lender uses your home as collateral in case you default on the agreed-upon payments."
Put simply: when you apply for a mortgage, an unbiased appraisal – typically required by your lender – is the best way to verify the value of the home. That appraisal ensures the lender doesn't loan you more than what the home is worth.
When buyers are competing like they are today, bidding wars and market conditions can push prices up. A buyer's contract price may end up higher than the value of the home – this is known as an appraisal gap. In today's market, it's common for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference when an appraisal gap occurs. That means, as a buyer, you may need to be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.
Like the appraisal, the inspection is important because it gives an impartial evaluation of the home. While the appraisal determines the current value of the home, the inspection determines the current condition of the home. As the American Society of Home Inspectors puts it:
"Home inspections are the opportunity to discover major defects that were not apparent at a buyer's showing. . . . Your home inspection is to help you make an informed decision about the house, including its condition."
If there are any concerns during the inspection – an aging roof, a malfunctioning HVAC system, or any other questionable items – you have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues with the seller. Your real estate advisor can help you navigate this process and negotiate what, if any, repairs need to be made before the sale is finalized.
Keep in mind – home inspections are critical because they can shed light on challenges you may face as the new homeowner. Without an inspection, serious, sometimes costly issues could come as a surprise later on.
Both the appraisal and the inspection are important steps in the homebuying process. They protect your best interests as a buyer by providing unbiased information about the home's value and condition.