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What is a Home Appraisal and How Does It Work in Canada?

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Home appraisals are conducted to confirm the value of a home. This is usually done when you’re looking to buy or even sell a house or if you’re looking to get a HELOC from a bank. 

In this article, we’ll go over what a home appraisal is, who pays for a home appraisal, how to find the last appraisal of a house and more.

Key Takeaways

  • A home appraisal is done by a professional to give an unbiased opinion of a home’s value. 
  • The entire process of looking at the home, researching similar properties, preparing the appraisal report, and delivering it will take around seven to 10 days. 
  • A home appraisal usually costs around $350 to $700 and is typically paid by the buyer. 
  • Home appraisals consider several factors like the amenities, location, overall age and condition, and price of similar properties. 

What is a Home Appraisal?

A home appraisal is done by a professional to give an unbiased opinion of a home’s value. Appraisals are commonly carried out during home transactions and in refinance transactions

If a purchase-and-sale transaction is to take place, the appraisal is done to make sure that the home’s selling price is fair relative to its condition, features, and location. 

If it’s for a refinance transaction, the appraisal is done to ensure the lender that it’s loaning the borrower only how much the home is worth. 

How Does a Home Appraisal Work?

A home appraisal generally happens after the buyer and seller have agreed on a price. After all the details have been finalized, a professional appraiser will be hired to determine the home’s value.

However, the seller can also get an appraisal before any agreements with a buyer to eliminate any possibility of a lower appraisal after a price has been agreed on.

What Does a Home Appraisal Look For?

A big influence on a home’s appraisal is recent sales of similar properties along with current trends in the market.

Other key factors considered during a home appraisal are the home’s amenities, including the floor plan’s functionality, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the square footage. 

The age, condition, and location of the home are also things taken into consideration. 

How Long Does a Home Appraisal Take?

The appraiser will take a look at the home for around one to two hours, checking the exterior and interior, assessing the home’s features, and measuring the square footage. 

The entire process of looking at the home, researching similar properties, preparing the appraisal report, and delivering it usually takes around seven to 10 days. 

How Much Does a Home Appraisal Cost?

A home appraisal usually costs around $350 to $700. 

Various factors can affect the price, like the company conducting the appraisal, the review content, the property’s size and condition, the level of detail needed, and location. 

Who Pays For a Home Appraisal?

This is on a case-per-case basis, but typically, the buyer pays for the appraisal.

What is the Appraisal Report?

The appraisal report describes the interior and exterior of the home and neighbourhood. It also shows the prices of comparable sales of similar properties. 

Based on the appraiser’s observations, they will provide a detailed analysis and conclusion on the home’s value. 

Appraisal reports include: 

  • Exterior sketch of the home
  • Pictures of the home from all angles (front, back, and street)
  • Front exterior pictures of similar properties 
  • A street map showing the location of the home and the similar properties used for comparison
  • An explanation of how the square footage was derived
  • Other important information like public land records, public tax records, and market sales data may also be included. 

Factors That Can Affect a Home Appraisal

Here are factors that can affect a home appraisal:

  • The home’s location
  • Size of the land
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • The home’s overall age and condition
  • Square footage
  • Curb appeal 
  • Home appliances, if any
  • Storage space 
  • Price of similar properties

When Does the Buyer Get the Appraisal Report?

The home buyer can expect to receive the appraisal report within one to two weeks after the appraisal takes place. 

Things to Know About Home Appraisals

Here are a few more things you should know about home appraisals:

You can contest the appraisal – If your appraisal was lower than what you expected, you can file a dispute. However, make sure you’re armed with supporting documents for your claim. 

You should fix any existing damages in advance – Holes in the walls or leaks in the ceiling will damage your appraisal, so make sure to get them fixed ahead of time. 

Prices of similar properties are critical – As much as the home itself is evaluated for appraisal, the price of similar properties in the area plays a huge role.

A clean home makes a huge difference – Don’t forget that appraisers are humans, too. Having a messy place won’t be graded, but they’re still bound to be influenced by a big mess. 

You can communicate with the appraiser – It is okay to talk with the appraiser, but remember that trying to influence them to get a higher appraisal is not. 

Consider an appraisal to be a bank’s insurance policy – Lenders take on big risks when loaning hundreds of thousands to borrowers, so the home appraisal assures them that the home is worth the asking price. 

FAQs

Is a house appraisal the same as an assessment?

These are different. House appraisals are used to determine the value of a property. Assessments are done to identify how the property will be taxed by the government. 

How do I find the last appraisal of a house? 

To find the last appraisal of a house, you can request the information from the seller (if you’re a buyer), search for property records on county websites, or you can contact the county or municipality’s assessor’s office. 

What are the 3 stages of the appraisal process?

The three stages of the appraisal process are 1) Property Inspection and Data Collection, 2) Market Analysis and Valuation, and 3) Appraisal Report.

How do I prepare for an appraisal? 

As a seller, the best way to prepare for an appraisal is to make sure that your property is in order, clean, and there are no damages. As a buyer, the best way to prepare is to know what you’re going to do if the appraisal comes out higher or lower than the original selling price. 

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Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

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