The VA loan appraisal process is a crucial step for veterans and active-duty military personnel looking to purchase a home using a VA loan. This process ensures that the property meets the minimum property requirements (MPRs) set by the U.S. The Department of Veterans Affairs ensures that they value it appropriately. Understanding the nuances of the VA appraisal process, including state-specific guidelines and common challenges, can help veterans navigate this essential part of their home-buying journey.

Important points

  • The VA loan appraisal process ensures that properties meet minimum property requirements (MPRs) and accurately assesses their value.
  • VA appraisals differ from conventional appraisals in several ways, including stricter property condition standards and specific documentation requirements.
  • Each state may have unique timeliness guidelines and appraisal costs, making it important for veterans to be aware of regional variations.
  • Common issues that can delay the VA appraisal process include incomplete documentation and properties not meeting MPRs.
  • Lenders play a significant role in scheduling and facilitating the VA appraisal process, ensuring smooth communication between all parties involved.

Understanding the VA Loan Appraisal Process

What is a VA Loan Appraisal?

A VA appraisal is an appraisal performed by someone certified through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It’s a professional valuation of the property’s market value, or how much the home you’re trying to buy or refinance is actually worth. An inspector establishes this value by inspecting the house and comparing it to recent sales prices on real estate “comps,” which are similar homes in the same area.

Differences Between VA and Conventional Appraisals

While both VA and conventional appraisals aim to determine a property’s market value, there are key differences. VA appraisals include a check for Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) to ensure the home is safe, structurally sound, and sanitary. Conventional appraisals focus primarily on the market value without these additional checks.

Common Misconceptions About VA Appraisals

There are several misconceptions about VA appraisals that can cause confusion:

  • VA appraisals are not home inspections. While the appraiser will note visible issues, they do not perform the in-depth analysis that a home inspector would.
  • VA appraisals are not more stringent than conventional appraisals. They simply have different criteria focused on safety and livability.
  • The VA does not guarantee that the appraiser will see all defective conditions. Buyers should still consider a separate home inspection.

Understanding these differences and misconceptions can help you navigate the VA loan appraisal process more effectively.

VA Appraisal Requirements and Standards

Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs)

The VA appraisal ensures homes meet value and are safe, structurally sound, and free of health hazards. The VA appraiser conducts a check based on the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) and addresses every concern in the appraisal report. Homes must meet the MPRs to be approved for financing. The major requirements include: adequate space, proper electrical systems, and sound structure.

  • Space Requirements: Adequate living space for the family.
  • Electrical Systems: Must be code-approved with all proper fixtures.
  • House Structure: The roof, attic, crawl space, and basement must be free of water damage or structural problems.
  • Pest Inspection: Required to ensure the property is free of pest infestations.

Required Documentation for VA Appraisals

To complete a VA appraisal, several documents are required. These include:

  1. Purchase Agreement: A copy of the signed purchase agreement.
  2. Certificate of Eligibility (COE): Proof of the borrower’s eligibility for a VA loan.
  3. VA Appraisal Request Form: Completed by the lender to initiate the appraisal process.
  4. Property Information: Details about the property, including any known issues or repairs needed.

Ensuring all required documentation is complete and accurate can significantly speed up the appraisal process.

Role of the VA Appraiser

The VA appraiser plays a crucial role in the appraisal process. They handle:

  • Inspecting the Property: Both the interior and exterior to determine its overall condition.
  • Comparative Analysis: Selecting comparable homes and performing a comparative market analysis.
  • Reporting Findings: Documenting any issues that could affect the home’s value or safety.
  • Recommending Repairs: Based on their observations, although they are not required to propose cosmetic repairs.

The VA appraiser ensures that the property meets both VA and lender guidelines, making their role essential in the home buying process.

State-Specific VA Appraisal Guidelines

Timeliness Guidelines by State

The VA timeliness guidelines start from the date the lender orders the appraisal. Most states have a single timeliness benchmark, but a few states (notably Alaska, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming) have guidelines that vary by city. Delays can happen, so it’s essential to be aware of your state’s specific timelines.

Regional Variations in Appraisal Costs

Appraisal costs can vary significantly by region. Here’s a quick overview of some regional differences:

Region Average Cost
Northeast $500 – $700
Midwest $450 – $650
South $400 – $600
West $550 – $750

State-Specific Appraisal Challenges

Different states may present unique challenges during the VA appraisal process. For example:

  • Pest Inspections: Required in all states except Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
  • Weather Conditions: States with severe weather may have additional requirements or delays.
  • Local Regulations: Some states have specific local regulations that can affect the appraisal process.

Understanding the specific guidelines and challenges in your state can help you better prepare for the VA appraisal process and avoid potential delays.

How to Prepare for a VA Appraisal

Steps to Take Before the Appraisal

Before the VA appraisal, it’s crucial to ensure that your property meets the Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) set by the VA. Here are some steps to take:

  1. You should schedule a home inspection, even though it is not mandatory, as it can help identify potential issues that the VA appraisal might flag.
  2. Make Necessary Repairs: Address any safety hazards, structural issues, or other deficiencies that could affect the property’s value or livability.
  3. Gather Required Documentation: Ensure you have all the paperwork, such as property deeds, recent tax assessments, and any previous inspection reports.
  4. Clean and Declutter: A well-maintained and clean property can make a positive impression on the appraiser.

Common Issues That Can Delay the Process

Several issues can delay the VA appraisal process, including:

  • Incomplete Documentation: Missing or incorrect paperwork can cause significant delays.
  • Unresolved repairs that do not meet the MPRs can halt the process until someone addresses them.
  • Scheduling Conflicts: Ensure that the appraiser has access to the property at the scheduled time to avoid rescheduling delays.

Tips for a Smooth Appraisal Experience

To ensure a smooth VA appraisal experience, consider the following tips:

  • Communicate with Your Lender: Keep in close contact with your lender to stay updated on the appraisal status and any required actions.
  • Be Present During the Appraisal: If possible, be available to answer questions the appraiser might have about the property.
  • Prepare a List of Upgrades: Document any recent upgrades or improvements to the property to provide to the appraiser.

Preparing for a VA appraisal can seem daunting, but taking these proactive steps can help ensure a smoother process and a more favorable outcome.

Dealing with Appraisal Issues

What to Do If the Appraisal Comes in Low

A low appraised value can create serious problems for eager homebuyers. Your VA loan amount can’t exceed the appraised value (plus allowable costs and fees). Here are some steps to take if your appraisal comes in low:

  1. Review the Appraisal Report: Carefully examine the appraiser’s findings and ensure there are no errors.
  2. Negotiate with the Seller: You can ask the seller to lower the purchase price to match the appraised value.
  3. Pay the Difference: If you have the financial means, you can pay the difference between the appraised value and the purchase price out of pocket.
  4. Request a Reconsideration of Value (ROV): Work with your lender to provide additional comparable sales data to the VA and request a review of the appraisal.

How to Challenge a VA Appraisal

Challenging a VA appraisal involves a process known as Reconsideration of Value (ROV). Here’s how you can proceed:

  1. Gather Evidence: Collect any additional comparable sales data that supports a higher valuation.
  2. Submit a Request: Your lender will submit the ROV request to the VA, including the additional evidence.
  3. VA Review: The VA will review the new information and decide whether to adjust the appraised value.

Working closely with your real estate agent and lender during this process is crucial to ensure that all necessary documentation is provided.

Options for Addressing Required Repairs

If the property doesn’t meet the Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs), you have several options:

  • Negotiate Repairs: Ask the seller to make the repairs before closing.
  • Escrow Holdback: Arrange for funds to be held in escrow to cover the cost of repairs after closing.
  • Do-It-Yourself: If allowed, you can make the repairs yourself after closing.

Remember, the goal is to ensure the property meets the VA’s standards for safety, soundness, and sanitation.

VA Appraisal Fees and Costs

Breakdown of Appraisal Costs by Region

The cost of a VA appraisal can vary significantly depending on the region. VA appraisal fees range from $525 to $1,500. In high-demand real estate markets such as California or Hawaii, the prices are on the higher end. Below is a table summarizing the typical costs by region:

Region Typical Cost Range
Northwest $800 – $1,500
Midwest $575 – $600
South $575 – $600
California $1,000 – $1,500
Hawaii $1,000 – $1,500

Who Pays for the Appraisal?

Homebuyers are responsible for paying the appraisal fee upfront. However, it is possible to negotiate with the seller to cover this cost as part of the closing costs. This can be a useful strategy, especially in a buyer’s market.

Reimbursement Options for Appraisal Fees

You can seek reimbursement for the appraisal fee as part of your closing costs negotiation with the seller. Some lenders may offer to cover the appraisal fee for a slightly higher interest rate on the loan.

It’s essential to discuss all potential costs and reimbursement options with your lender to ensure you are fully aware of your financial obligations during the VA loan process.

The Role of Lenders in the VA Appraisal Process

How Lenders Schedule VA Appraisals

Lenders play a pivotal role in the VA appraisal process. Once a buyer is under contract, the lender orders the VA appraisal. An experienced VA lender will promptly send a request to the VA, which then assigns an independent appraiser to evaluate the property. This step is crucial as any delays in ordering the appraisal can cause setbacks in the home-buying timeline.

Lender Responsibilities During the Appraisal

Lenders have several responsibilities during the VA appraisal process, including ensuring that they conduct the appraisal in a timely manner and provide all necessary documentation. They must also take the responsibility to review the completed appraisal report. Many lenders employ Staff Appraisal Reviewers (SARs) to streamline this process and ensure that the appraisal meets all VA requirements.

Communication Between Lenders and Borrowers

Effective communication between lenders and borrowers is essential for a smooth VA appraisal process. Lenders should keep borrowers informed about the status of the appraisal and any potential issues that may arise. Clear and consistent communication can help prevent misunderstandings and delays, ensuring that the home-buying process proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Choosing the right lender can make a significant difference in the VA appraisal process. An experienced VA lender can navigate potential challenges and ensure a timely and accurate appraisal, helping you move closer to owning your dream home.

Lenders play a crucial role in the VA appraisal process, ensuring that veterans receive fair and accurate property valuations. By partnering with a trusted lender, you can navigate the VA home loan journey with confidence and ease. Ready to take the next step? Visit our website to get started today!


Navigating the VA loan appraisal process can be complex, with variations across different states adding another layer of intricacy. However, understanding these nuances is crucial for veterans and active-duty military personnel aiming to secure their dream homes. By familiarizing yourself with the specific requirements and timelines in your state, you can better prepare for the appraisal process and avoid potential delays. Remember, the VA appraisal is not just a formality but a vital step in ensuring that the property meets the standards and is a sound investment. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can confidently navigate the VA loan appraisal process and move one step closer to homeownership.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a VA loan appraisal?

A VA loan appraisal is a professional valuation of the property’s market value, conducted by an appraiser certified through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This process involves inspecting the house and comparing it to the recent sales prices of similar homes in the area.

How does a VA loan appraisal differ from a conventional loan appraisal?

To ensure the property is safe, sound, and sanitary, VA loan appraisals require meeting specific Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs). These requirements are more stringent than those for conventional loans, which do not have such detailed criteria.

What happens if the VA appraisal comes in low?

If the VA appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price, you have a few options: renegotiate the purchase price with the seller, request a Reconsideration of Value (ROV) from the VA, or make up the difference in cash.

Who pays for the VA loan appraisal?

The homebuyer pays the VA loan appraisal fee upfront. However, you can negotiate with the seller to seek reimbursement for this cost as part of the closing costs.

How long does the VA appraisal process take?

The VA appraisal process typically takes around 10 business days from the date the lender orders the appraisal. However, this timeline can vary depending on the location and other factors.

Can I challenge the results of a VA appraisal?

Yes, if you believe the appraisal is inaccurate, you can request a Reconsideration of Value (ROV) from the VA. This involves providing additional comparable sales data or other relevant information to support a higher property value.