If you’re a prospective buyer interested in using your VA home loan benefits when purchasing your home, then you’ll need to have a VA appraisal done.
But while the VA appraisal is invaluable for homebuyers to make sure they do not purchase a home that is not sound or one that may create financial problems through burdensome repairs, it does not mean the home is completely defect-free.
It’s best to take an additional step and have a more complete home inspection done. Here’s our comprehensive guide to understanding VA Appraisals and home inspections. Read on for a full checklist of what they entail — and what they leave out.
What is a VA Appraisal and Why is it Required?
The first thing home buyers and homesellers need to understand about VA Appraisals is that they are not the same as a home inspection. They are required when you apply for a VA purchase loan so that the borrower is protected from buying properties that are not safe or have unsuitable living conditions.
But home buyers need to be aware of the limits of a VA Appraisal. The way they work is that the Department of Veterans Affairs uses a series of Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) that a home must meet for the purchaser to qualify for a VA loan.
The appraisal will not be as extensive as an actual home inspection, which is much more thorough and detailed. For example, a VA appraisal does not necessarily have to do a detailed roof inspection. Instead, it may provide a cursory overview of big-ticket concerns.
MPRs are determined during the appraisal process and cover basic issues that can affect the safety of a property. They also look for any defects that could impact the home’s value. Appraisers are generally looking for anything that may concern the safety, structural soundness, and sanitary conditions of a home.
What Does a VA Appraisal Cover?
VA appraisers want to ensure that veterans do not buy a property that has an inflated value or burdensome hidden costs. Basically, they try to make sure loan applicants don’t unwittingly get stuck with a lemon after their home purchase.
They look for issues surrounding safety, sanitation and the structural soundness of a property. These could include heating and cooling systems, the home’s water supply system, hot water issues and sewage disposal functions.
The VA appraiser will also make more basic determinations, such as whether or not there is enough space to sleep, live, and cook. Is there clean drinking water?
Heating systems are a priority, especially in states where winters are harsh. Generally, a home must provide a heating system capable of heating a home to at least 50 degrees.
The home appraiser does not have to complete a major roofing inspection, but he or she will likely try to determine whether it is structurally sound. VA appraisers will also look for exposed wiring, broken windows, and rotting wood.
Should You Also Do A Home Inspection?
The simple and financially sound answer is an emphatic “yes.” It should be noted that they are generally not required by law. But it’s in a home buyer’s best interest to have one done before signing the final details for the purchase of a home.
It is up to the home buyer to ensure that the home they are purchasing meets all of the legal and safety benchmarks. Home inspectors look for any safety concerns and the condition of the components that they inspect. Their job is to ask such questions like, "does a particular component work the way the manufacturer intended?" "What’s its condition? Is there a safety risk?"
When it comes to the interior of a home, they will determine the condition of walls, ceilings, and floors. They will also inspect doors and windows, garage door operators, and kitchen and (in some cases) laundry appliances.
On the exterior of the home, they’ll inspect wall coverings, decks, balconies, steps, and porches to see if they are structurally sound. They will also check for any problems with drainage or retaining walls.
On top of all that, a good inspector will also examine the roof thoroughly, as well as determine the future viability of the home’s chimneys, plumbing, and electrical systems. The electrical inspection includes testing light fixtures, switches, receptacles, and circuit interrupters.
Learn More About VA Appraisals and Home Inspections
While there are a lot of factors in a home purchase that home inspectors examine, they don’t look at every issue. For example, a home inspector won’t check to see if there are cracks in the foundation. He or she will also not do tests to see if there are hidden rusty pipes or whether there may be mold behind the walls.
They also won’t enter crawl spaces or attics that are too tight. And they will not go up to the roof and walk its length as part of a routine inspection. Also, their job is not to determine how much utility may be left in the appliances or plumbing system. And this is important in some areas. Home inspectors do not need to check for termites or other insects that could be eating away at the property. Even more importantly, it is up to you to make sure that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
It’s always best to work with a real estate agent who is an expert in guiding you through the VA loans and home buyers benefits programs. A professional Clever Partner Agent will be able to walk you through all of the issues surrounding VA Appraisals and home inspections. That way you will have full confidence that you’re purchasing a home that’s a sound long-term investment.