In person viewings

What to expect:

A full home appraisal will likely require an in-person viewing by one of our appraisers. We will attempt to book an in-person viewing, giving as much notice as possible. A minimum of 24 hours is the usual standard, particularly where the property is tenant-occupied. Exceptions may be made depending on circumstances. Most standard home viewings will take less than one hour, and some larger residences or those with multiple outbuildings may require longer.
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We typically photograph every room and may request to video our walk-through as it allows for more thorough data collection and verification. This can speed up the viewing process, which can be beneficial, but it is not mandatory. For single-family, semi-detached, duplexes, and townhomes, we fully measure the exterior and take interior measurements to verify the Gross Living Area (GLA), basement, garages, and other significant structures. While printed or digital house plans may be helpful, we still need to take sufficient measurements to ensure their accuracy. We are not home inspectors but aim to gather as much pertinent data as possible for the report’s purpose and intent. We understand the stress of having strangers in your home and take your privacy seriously. We do not share any collected information with anyone other than the intended users or as legally obligated by PIPEDA and/or PIPA Canadian privacy acts. We will only share confidential information at the request of a judge or judiciary authority in extraordinary circumstances.


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Can I get a copy of the report ordered for XYZ Lender?

What to expect:

We receive this question frequently and understand that the answer can be frustrating as often the applicant/borrower is responsible for paying for the report. Regrettably, we are not permitted to share the report or any conclusions or opinions we may have developed as a result of the assignment with anyone other than the client (the party that orders the report and sets out the terms of the assignment) or the intended user identified at the time of the order, typically the lender, without their written consent. This ethical standard is one that we must adhere to as members of our professional association, and it is almost always a contractual obligation with major lenders. While we can explain the appraisal process and the reasons why certain information may be necessary, we cannot provide a copy of the report, any non-publicly-available data gathered during the assignment, or discuss any conclusions drawn from our work.
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The appraiser may not be able to receive direct approval from the lender, particularly from major lenders. If the borrower would like a copy, they should request it through their contact in the borrowing process, such as their mortgage broker, lender’s staff, or agents. Similarly, the report cannot be shared without the appraiser’s consent. Lenders have varying policies in this regard, and some may provide a report with most of the information redacted, including the appraisal firm, the Appraisal Management Company (AMC) if applicable, addresses, and information on comparable sale properties, and comments on comparable sale properties. For further clarification or assistance, please contact us.


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Restricted Appraisal/ Scope of Work?

What to expect:

A restricted appraisal report is most commonly requested as a drive-by or desktop. Although a lender may request a Restricted Appraisal Report, it is the appraiser’s obligation to determine if a reasonably probable value can be provided based on the available information. The research and analysis required for a Restricted Appraisal Report remains the same, except for the actual physical site visit. While your lender may have deemed there to be sufficient security, such as in the case of a low ratio mortgage, where they are only lending a small percentage of the estimated value, the appraiser must determine the actual value, which is not based on the loan amount.
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In some cases, the lender may rely on a less detailed report, and the provided value is usually a range. This range is based on the appraiser’s analysis of the probable variation due to the limited scope of work and the lack of verification of the actual physical condition, along with other factors such as determining the actual size, percentage of finished floor area, basement finish, and any other extras not visible from the street or available from reliable third-party data.

“Scope of work” refers to the level of analysis and reporting that the appraiser believes is necessary to produce a credible opinion of value and report sufficient for its intended purpose. Although clients or lenders may set minimum or maximum levels of analysis and reporting, the appraiser has the final say in determining what is required and sufficient to produce reliable results.

For the average borrower or applicant, the scope of work may not mean much, but it becomes important in cases where the agent or mortgage broker has ordered a certain type of appraisal only to find out that the an appraiser could not complete the assignment based on the restricted report type. For example, the borrower may have been told they ordered a drive-by or desktop appraisal. Often, this is acceptable as long as the appraiser can gather sufficient data on the subject. However, there are many cases where there is simply not enough information, or the range of possible outcomes resulting from the limitation on the data is too great to provide a conclusion sufficient for the intended use of the report. In such cases, the appraiser must either request to modify the scope of work or decline the assignment. This is also the case with market rent reports.


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Acreage Appraisals for residential lending

What to expect:

Various lenders handle the appraisal of properties differently, so it’s important to understand how your chosen lender determines what they will lend on. Even major lenders have widely varying instructions for appraisers regarding limitations on what they may consider to provide value. Some lenders will allow the full acreage and include all outbuildings as residential use, excluding commercial-use buildings or structures. However, the maximum acreage is often 160 acres. Others will limit the appraisal value to a set number of acres, ranging from 5 to 15, and exclude outbuildings other than an attached or detached garage. These limitations can cause a significant difference in property value. If the borrower is not aware or does not fully understand these limitations, it can come as an unpleasant surprise and may even cause a sale to collapse.
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We will almost always view and collect data on outbuildings. Gathering this data may not be necessary and is handled on a case-by-case basis, though this is generally rare and some lenders require we collect this information even if they intend to exclude those components from the value. In the case of a sale, or if the property was recently purchased within the prior three years, we must almost always gather this data and determine the value those components may contribute to the full market value or sale price. The appraiser will need to attempt to reconcile any disparities. In general, these limitations are a way for the lender to limit their risk and be more certain that, in the event of foreclosure, they will more easily recoup their investment, allowing them to lend at a lower interest rate.


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The appraiser wants a copy of the purchase and sale agreement. Is this allowed?

What to expect:

Not only is this allowed, in fact, it is a requirement. There appears to be a myth that appraisers are somehow to be kept in the dark and not provided with a copy of the current offer or the conditionally agreed purchase price. There may be circumstances where the client requests that the appraiser not have access to this information; however, ordinarily, the appraiser is required to request this information and document the steps taken to obtain it through commercially accepted and legal methods. It is common practice for participants in the sales transaction to “inform” the appraiser of the sale price. Therefore, it is already rare for the appraiser to not be aware of that influence. It is the appraiser’s obligation to support their conclusion of value based on credible research, analysis, and calculations, and to be impartial to any party or undue influence.
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While knowledge of the sale price is almost always present, the appraiser’s full understanding of all known conditions prerequisite to the sale should outweigh the aversion to any bias the sale price alone may influence. USPAP 2024 Standards Rule 1-5(a) requires an appraiser to analyze all agreements of sale, options, or listings of the subject property current as of the effective date of the appraisal if such information is available in the normal course of business. When the property is known to be the subject of a pending transaction, the appraiser should ask the client for the terms of the agreement. If this request is denied, the appraiser should make reasonable attempts to obtain this information from other sources by legal means commonly available and practiced by the appraiser’s peers. The Comment to Standards Rules 2-2(a)(x)(3) and (b)(xii)(3) also requires a statement on the efforts undertaken by the appraiser to obtain any unobtainable information. If such information is irrelevant, a statement acknowledging the existence of the information and citing its lack of relevance is required.


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