So, you’re looking to buy a home, and to take advantage of your military benefits by getting a VA loan. Your new home will have to pass muster, though; a VA qualified appraiser is going to go over the property with a fine-toothed comb. How stringent is this appraisal? What will the appraiser look at? How will they determine if your prospective new home is up to standards? Learn what you need to know by watching this video for a primer on VA appraisals.
Hey, this is Debbie Wright at Charles Rutenberg Realty, serving St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and all Tampa Bay, and I’m here to talk to you today about VA appraisals, so let’s go.
Okay, first and foremost, we’re going to dig in deep on the VA appraisal. I know that it’s a hot button topic, a lot of people don’t understand it, but actually it’s a very thorough appraisal process similar to FHA, and it definitely protects the veterans, and we want to help our veterans out, and we want to dispel a lot of myths. We want to make sure everybody understands the process so that these folks can utilize the benefits that they served for. So the first thing is what is a VA appraisal? Well, it’s an appraisal process unlike any other. the VA appraiser is a little bit like an inspector; they don’t do a full inspection, but they do pay very close attention to three particular areas and they’re called the Three S’s- safety, sound, and sanitary.
Okay so let’s talk about safety. Safety concerns obviously are very important, but what the VA is looking for when they go to a property to perform an appraisal, they want to make sure that the electrical is up to code and there are no exposed wires. You want to make sure that the outlets are performing and they work, there’s GFI outlets, and everything is in proper working order, and there are no fire hazards. Other things to consider that they consider when they’re there are flooring and trip hazards, making sure that flooring going from one type of flooring to another that there’s a segue and not a trip hazard, it’s been installed correctly, the baseboards have been put in, and that it’s a finished product.
Then they also look for handrails near stairs. They’re going to look for standing water in your yard. They’re going to make sure that there’s no erosion around your yard or around the house. They’re going to check and verify all the mechanical systems; the air-conditioning needs to be in good working order and the heat needs to be in good working order, even in Florida. We do get cold spells, so they’re going to verify that both work efficiently. They’re also going to check plumbing, they’re going to check the hot water heater, if you have a water softener. they’re going to check that as well.
Another thing sometimes we don’t even think about but they actually verify is that your home sits outside of the easement, where the high-voltage lines are or gas line coming in on your property the home is not sitting on it, or it’s not hovering right over it. So that’s kind of important; typically don’t see houses in that particular position, but in some instances, there are in some places in this country, so I haven’t really seen any in Florida in my neck of the woods, but it may happen, you never know. You learn something new every day in real estate, that’s the fun part about it.
Other things that they look for are pests. You want to make sure that there’s no mold, no fungus, or infestations of any type, and they’re very particular, they do require that the seller pay for a termite inspection, and so the inspector does come out and perform an entire investigation just based on termites, fungus, and other types of insects or infestations, so it’s pretty important. The VA appraiser also looks for evidence of some kind of an infestation as well.
No paint defects. You know if the structure was built prior to 1978, then they fall in that lead-based paint category. They’re going to look for older paint, deteriorating paint, peeling paint. You want to make sure that the paint is in good order, in good condition. It doesn’t have the freshly painted, but it cannot be peeling or coming up. And also there’s no rust. They frown on rust, so that’s not going to work either
The next “S” that we’re going to talk about is sound structure. So, they’re going to make sure that the roof is in good condition, the shingles aren’t curling, everything’s secure. They’re going to make sure that has at least five years of remaining life in it, and they’re going to go up into the attic and verify the installation of the roof and the trussing. They’re also going to look to make sure that there are stable walls. You know we have a lot of flippers, and they go into houses and they think, “oh, we’re going to make this property in the open floor plan,” and they remove walls but they don’t actually go in correctly place in the roof system load-bearing- you know they have to compensate- they removed the structure that is a load-bearing wall, well, they’ve got to take that load and do something with it, and typically it involves placing extra beams in the roof, it just kind of depends on the design of the house. But that has to be compensated for, or you’re going to have a structural issue. They’re gonna verify that that’s been done.
They’re looking for shoddy work. They like to see permitted work, they don’t like to see handyman work, so it really needs to be good work. If they see that someone has cut corners or they haven’t done a good job or it’s a weekend warrior type of installation, they’re going to call it out. So you need to make sure that if you’re selling your property and you’re listening to this video, you’re going through your property and looking at it for little things that might be snagged along the way, things that you can easily repair before an appraiser ever gets there.
Other things they look for are broken windows, the windows and doors all have to open and close freely, and they cannot be broken, especially the windows- can’t have glass broken. The appliances all work- the home inspector generally checks those, and so does the VA appraiser. They’re going to check and make sure that the stove eyes work on top and the oven comes on, and it comes up to the temperature it’s supposed to. They’re going to check and make sure that they have access to crawlspaces and attics, because that’s where they’re going to get up there and check those trusses, they’re going to check for infestations, they’re going to check the roof and make sure that all the wood is in good condition up there.
The last “S” we’re going to talk about is sanitary, and although most people deal with public type sewers, there are small enclaves that we have in county areas or maybe even rural areas that deal with different types of sanitation. One of those would be septic tanks; they’re completely fine, the VA accepts those, just everything has to be in accordance with the rules and regulations are for that county or that municipality. So they’re going to verify that you have proper sewage disposal, no matter if it’s public or if you have a containment system on your property.
Other things are they’re going to verify that your water supply is constant. This kind of comes into play if say, you’re sharing a well with the neighbor, you’re in a rural area, they’re going to make you and your neighbor turn your water on, and they’re going to make sure that you have constant pressure and that everybody has the same flow. They want to make sure because it’s super important to have a consistent flow of water, and then of course, having hot water for the kitchen and the bathroom is pretty important, too.
Basically, the appraiser is making sure that the property that you’re about to purchase is suitable for living, cooking, dining, and sleeping. They want to make sure that if there are repairs that need to be made, they’re going to be checked off and that’s going to be returned so that the seller can address those issues, and then a reinspection will occur. That’s actually going to end up being part two my video, I’m going to go into it more in depth about the repair side, Tidewater, and then escalating toward a review if you don’t agree with the appraisal. So stay tuned, subscribe to my channels so you’re notified when part two comes out. If you leave me a comment, I would love to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to reach out to me, you can text me, you can message me on Facebook, you can email me, and you can always call me. I’m ready to help. Give me a call, and I look forward to chatting with you. Thank you. Have a great day.