Appraisal vs Home Inspection: Know the Difference

Do you understand the difference between a property appraisal and a home inspection? Surveys show that many homebuyers – even those who have purchased homes before – have some level of confusion about these two different services that are part of a home purchase.

appraisal vs home inspection


Let’s start with appraisals. They are an important part of the homebuying process that is designed to estimate a property’s value based on a number of different factors. They are required for VA loans (and most mortgages) to make sure lenders don’t approve home loans for more than properties are worth. Appraisals also can be ordered by homeowners or sellers who want an accurate estimate of their home’s value for other purposes. Appraisers will document and photograph the property and its amenities, inside and out. Then the appraiser will weigh the home’s age, general condition, location, exterior and interior, size, upgrades and features. Market conditions and the value of nearby properties are also considered. The appraiser will prepare a report that takes all these factors and returns it to the Lender and Borrower. The appraisal reports typically take into account a minimum of three comparable sales of nearby properties to arrive at an accurate appraisal value using generally accepted valuation methods. It’s designed to be an unbiased estimate of a home’s fair market value.

Home Inspection

A home inspection, by comparison, is a detailed, hands-on evaluation of a property’s condition. While a home appraisal is normally a  mandatory part of the home buying process if you’re taking out a mortgage loan, a home inspection is voluntary. But that doesn’t make home inspections any less critical. Home inspectors look for costly defects and problems, such as roof issues, faulty heating/cooling systems, structural problems and leaky pipes, that could lead to costly headaches or safety issues immediately or in the future for anyone who owns the home. They’ll also document less serious issues that require maintenance or upgrades. It’s important to know that homes don’t pass or fail inspections. A home inspection report is simply designed to provide a summary of a home’s overall condition and identify areas for the prospective buyers that require attention. The inspector also doesn’t place a value on property like an appraiser does and their report is not seen by a Lender.

Many home buyers who pay for a pre-purchase inspection make their offer contingent upon that inspection. Inspections are even more critical when purchasing a distressed property, due to the limited amount of information potential buyers may have access to about a property’s condition and possible problems. If you’re a seller, a home inspection can provide a better idea of the overall condition of your home, any issues that may crop up during the sales process and any items you may want to consider fixing before listing it for sale. Both the appraisal and the inspection are key parts of purchasing any home but are designed to accomplish different things. Reading both reports carefully is an important part of making an informed home buying decision.

Speaking of home buying, the right financing can make all the difference in realizing your dreams of homeownership. At USVM, we want to make the home financing process as easy as possible. We’re VA home loan specialists, and we are here to guide individuals and families through the process of using their VA housing benefit and purchasing a home. When you’re ready to make a move, visit our website.

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