I receive FHA appraisal orders from many different people and many different mortgage companies across the country. I know many times these Mortgage Professionals tell me they telephone interview a perspective borrower about their home and after I leave the home it is obvious they have no idea what questions to ask before ordering the FHA appraisal.
I am sometimes told "The house does not sound to be in the best condition," or a similar line. On many occasions the home is just slightly dated and meets all FHa conditions, the originator worried for no real reason and might have scared their borrower away with his/her concerns about the FHA Appraisal. Other occasions, I come to a home with a statement of slight concern and the roof if leaking, the windows are rotted, peeling interior paint, electrical systems not completely functioning, etc...
Allright, I have identified the problem, now I would like to share a solution. FHA Appraisers used to have to use a checklist supplied by HUD for evaluating whether a home meets FHA property standards. These FHA checklists were included in the FHA appraisal. HUD no longer requires or desires these valuation condition forms (VC sheets.) Now FHA appraisers are held to a standard of reporting the same items of concern within the apraisal report, without using the VC sheets. Well at least the VC sheet made appraisers appear more like the messenger instead of a ruthless and unpredictable home inspector.
Here are some of the items that HUD requires each home to be checked, before providing FHA mortgage insurance on a property.
Any termite infestation is not acceptable to HUD.
Attics and crawl spaces are required to be checked by the appraiser. A "Head & Shoulder" inspection is required for all FHA appraisals. Sometimes attic access is blocked by a closet filled with things. Appraiser has no responsibility for moving personal items and would be at risk by moving and taking responsibility for such items. Stored things get broken when moved or are discovered broken, I have not talked to a FHA appraiser that is willing to move stuff to access a crawl space or an attic entry (closet scuttle.) We can condition the appraisal to have these items cleared and return. We just are not in the moving business.
Roofs must have an estimated two year remaining life. Snow covered roofs require revisit to the home or a roofing inspection. Flat top roofs no longer require an automatic roofing certification. Exterior surfaces cannot be unprotected. Painted surfaces require attention if there is an issue of wear on the home or surface due to maintenance.
Electrical and plumbing systems must be fully operational. Checking a"Representive sample" of electrical systems is part of the observation. Each home must have a hot water source and must be operating at the time of observation. Furnace or certral heating system must be able to be turned on and heard operate by the FHA appraiser. Summer observations still need the system checked. Climates not requiring a heating system do not need furnace check. Southern tip of Florida, Hawaii, etc..
Safety: Window, doors, steps & handrails, reverse feature for automatic garage doors and general safety concerns are part of the FHA appraisal observation. Homes built before 1978 cannot have any cracking, peeling, or otherwise defective interior paint surface.
RURAL CONCERNS: Onsite wells and sanitary septic systems do not necessarily require testing, however underwriters usually ask for these tests. Check with your underwriters if this is a concern. The FHA Appraisal Report must state distance of well from sanitary system and comment of availablity of public sewers. Roads to home must be able to traveled in all weather. (We know flooding, ice and heavy snow are not the fault of the road.)
Outside of the Property: Here are some concerns outside of homeowner's control. Sink Holes, slush pits, improvements (home) within fall distance of towers, excessive hazardous noises (includes street traffic & airport travel paths,) Soil contamination is a concern from environmental concerns.
In general the appraiser must look for any safety of occupants, structural condition, or soundness concern of the improvements of the home. The FHA Appraisers know this as HUD's three S's. Please understand there are more things in the FHA protocol that I did not mention here. I tried to gather the most frequent concerns that I know of.
James S. Graner
Real Estate Appraiser