A VA Appraiser is not a Home Inspector and shouldn't be thought of as one. A VA Appraiser doesn't spend the same amount of time in the home you are purchasing and look at the home with the same set of trained eyes as a home inspector. They also don't leave you with a book full of information on the current condition of your home and maintenance tips for the future.
We in the VA loan business—real estate agents, lenders, brokers, and property inspectors, etc.—throw around terms that can be a bit misleading to the new VA borrower. One of those terms is the word “inspection”.
A VA appraisal of any given property to establish fair market value--a Department of Veterans Affairs requirement. The inspector must be VA-approved and has to conduct the property valuation according to the rules set down by the VA. But what do first time home buyers hear when we talk about a VA inspection of the property? While it’s true that lenders and RE agents may counsel their clients about the purpose of the appraisal, it’s that word that keeps getting in the way.
“Inspection” implies the same thing to a veteran or active duty service member that it does in a military context; a good once-over. The white glove treatment. An actual, honest-to-goodness INSPECTION for flaws, defects, blemishes, bumps, bugs, whatever.
We know the actual term we should be using all along is “appraisal”...and a lot of us are good at remembering to say it instead of "inspection". But even so, “appraisal” still implies that somebody is out there giving a close look at a property to see if there are problems or potential problems.
So much so that the VA has the following question in it’s FAQ section about VA loans:
“My home was appraised by VA and now I am having problems with its condition. Wasn't the appraisal an inspection of the property and can't VA help me with these problems?”
To which the VA replies with the answer those of us who deal with these issues day in and day out know by heart. The VA does NOT promise the buyer that all defects will be spotted, or that all aspects of the property will turn out to be acceptable once the buyer is all moved in.
The VA appraiser doesn’t have to walk out onto the roof to have a look, for example—who does? It’s the buyer’s responsibility to take a much closer look at a home before committing to it. Roof included.
We can adjust our jargon all we want, we can remind the buyer to look for themselves until we’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day it’s very important to remember how many details a first time home buyer has to wade through on the way to home ownership. So how can you get a buyer to take matters into their own hands after the VA appraisal but before the deal is closed? More on THAT in my next blog post.
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Military Relocation Specialist serving military families relocating to and from the Pentagon, Fort Belvoir, Quantico MCB and all of the Military District of Washington installations.
Licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia