What do appraisers look for during an FHA inspection? (free download)

What do appraisers look for when doing an FHA appraisal? These days it’s important to be in tune with FHA appraisal standards so your home can be FHA-ready or so you can know what to expect if accepting an FHA offer. Let’s talk through some of the most common FHA issues below. You can also download an FHA checklist to study or share with clients. This checklist has all the information from this post as well as one additional page.

what appraisers look for during an FHA inspection

DOWNLOAD an FHA checklist HERE (pdf)

The Main Idea with FHA: FHA is primarily concerned that everything in the house functions properly and that there are no health and safety issues. The basic concept of meeting FHA minimum requirements is that everything must work as it was designed to work. For example, a window that is supposed to open must open, and a built-in appliance should do what that appliance is supposed to do. If you have a sliding glass door with a lock on the handle, the lock should work.

FHA requirements - from sacramento appraisal blog

What do FHA appraisers look for?

  • Utilities should be turned on so the appraiser can test systems and appliances.
  • Appliances must function properly.
  • fha-logoThere should be proper drainage around the perimeter of the house.
  • The heating unit must be in working order (and AC if applicable).
  • Water pressure must be adequate for the house. Appraisers flush toilets, turn on all faucets and ensure that both hot and cold water are working.
  • The water heater must be in working order and strapped according to local code.
  • Attics and crawlspaces are to be viewed at minimum from the shoulder up by the appraiser. When viewing the attic, appraisers make sure there are vents, no damage, no exposed or frayed wires, and that sunlight is not beaming through. When inspecting the crawl space, appraisers make sure there are no signs of standing water or any other foundation support issues. Excessive debris in the attic or crawl space should be removed.
  • Paint must not be chipping, peeling, or flaking on homes built before 1978 because of the danger of lead-based paint (lead was used in paint prior to 1978). However, there must be no defective paint or bare wood for properties built after 1978 because defective paint impacts the economic longevity of the property. Defective paint should be scraped and re-painted (with no wood chips on the soil).
  • Electrical outlets must work (outlets should have a cover plate also).
  • Toilets must flush and be mounted.
  • Any active termite infestation needs to be cured.
  • Minor cosmetic issues such as stained carpet or a need for interior paint are okay. The house does not have to be perfect, but if there are issues that impact health and safety or the long-term economic viability of the property, then those issues must be cured.
  • Windows must open and close and they cannot be broken. Minor cracks can be okay so long as there is not an issue with safety, soundness and security.
  • No dangling wires from missing fixtures or anywhere else.
  • FHA doesn’t require air conditioning, but if present the system should work as intended.
  • Smoke detectors & carbon monoxide detectors are required insofar as required by local code
  • The firewall from the garage to the house should be intact. Missing sheetrock, a pet door installed in the door, a lack of self-closing hinges, or a hollow door could pose a safety issue.
  • A roof should not be leaking and needs to have at least two years of economic life left.
  • A house will be rejected if the site is subject to hazards, environmental contaminants, noxious odors, or excessive noises to the point of endangering the physical improvements or affecting the livability of the property (this isn’t an issue for the vast majority of properties).
  • A trip hazard is a subjective call to make by the appraiser and not necessarily an automatic repair, but if there is a legitimate safety issue it should be called out by the appraiser.
  • There are things any appraiser will call out in an FHA appraisal, but there are times when appraisers have to consider how the spirit of FHA might apply in a situation. FHA is black and white on many issues, but other times appraisers simply need to use good judgment.

Reminder About Difference in Locations: Appraisers in different parts of the country may require some items in their appraisals that might not be required elsewhere. For instance, carbon monoxide detectors are required in most residential homes in California, but this is not the case in many other states. An FHA appraiser in a different state might not even mention a CO detector, but in Sacramento it is commonplace.

DOWNLOAD an FHA checklist HERE (pdf)

I hope this was helpful. If you’re looking for more information on FHA appraisal standards, you can check out other FHA appraisal articles I’ve written.

Questions: Anything else you’d add to the list? Any FHA questions? Appraisers, if you have any stories to share about properties that were rejected, speak on.

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Do you need to order a new appraisal when an FHA case number transfers to a new lender?

When I do appraisals for FHA loans, this situation comes up quite a bit, and my sense is there is confusion in the marketplace about this issue. When an FHA appraisal has been done in the name of one lender, but then the loan transfers to a new lender, does the new lender need to ask the appraiser to “reassign” the appraisal so that the appraisal is in the name of the new lender? Nope. See below.

Here is all you ever wanted to know – verbatim from FHA/HUD:

FAQ : When a case number is transferred with a completed appraisal, may a new appraisal be requested?

Solution Details : When a borrower has switched lenders, the 1st lender must transfer the case to the 2nd lender upon borrower request. FHA does not require that the client name on the appraisal be changed when it is transferred to another lender.

In accordance with USPAP, the lender is not permitted to request that the appraiser change the name of the client within the appraisal report unless it is a new appraisal assignment. The appraiser cannot ‘readdress’ (transfer) the original appraisal report to another party and must perform a new appraisal assignment in compliance with Advisory Opinion #26 and FAQ # 74 in the 2008-2009 edition of USPAP.

For cases assigned on or after January 1, 2010, a 2nd appraisal may be ordered by the 2nd lender when:
1. The 1st appraisal contains material deficiencies determined by the DE underwriter for the 2nd lender.
2. The appraiser performing the 1st appraisal is on the 2nd lender’s exclusionary list.
3. Failure of the 1st lender to provide a copy of the appraisal to the 2nd lender in a timely manner would cause a delay in closing, posing potential harm to the borrower. Potential harm includes events outside of the control of the borrower such as loss of interest rate lock, purchase contract deadline, foreclosure proceedings, and late fees.

For cases in 1 and 2 above, copies of both appraisals must be retained in the case binder. For cases in 3 above, the 1st appraisal must be added to the case binder when it is received.  In all cases, the lender must document why a 2nd appraisal was ordered and retain the explanation in the case binder.

FHA prohibits appraiser shopping where lenders order additional appraisals in an effort to assure the highest possible value for the property and/or the least amount of deficiencies and/or repairs are noted and required by the appraiser.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to call me at 916-595-3735 or email ryan@LundquistCompany.com.

Does FHA Require the Air Conditioner to Work?

ac1Yes. If there is an air conditioner at the subject property, it must be in working order for HUD to guarantee the loan. What if the air conditioner was stolen (that happens quite a bit with bank-owned properties)? If there is clearly supposed to be an air conditioner at the house, then it must be installed and working. Often times the owner or bank will install a new one before the close of escrow to meet this requirement. The gist is that FHA does not require an air conditioner in a house, but if one is there (or should be there), then it must work properly. Does that make sense?

If you have any questions, let me know. I am an FHA approved appraiser in the Sacramento Region and I can be reached at 916-595-3735 or www.LundquistCompany.com.

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