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14 VA Appraisal Basics for Agents

Appraisal Basics for a VA Loan

Agents who understand the VA appraisal process can make a huge difference for military borrowers.

Any good agent knows that an appraisal can make or break a real estate transaction.

As a military-friendly real estate agent, it’s certainly in your best interest to be familiar with VA appraisal guidelines. All properties financed through a VA loan must undergo a VA appraisal and meet VA Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs). Some MPRs are very precise, while others give appraisers room for interpretation.


Here’s a summary of 14 major MPRs for any real estate agent to consider:

1. Purchased property must be residential. Office buildings or storefronts can’t be financed through VA loans. If any part of the property is designed for nonresidential purposes (for example, a home hair salon), that portion must not exceed 25 percent of the total floor area.

2. Property must have space necessary to assure suitable living, sleeping, cooking and sanitary facilities. Make sure the home has an adequate kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area.

3. Mechanical systems must be safe and have reasonable future utility. Electrical and plumbing systems must be in good repair and have some usable life remaining. Minor electrical glitches are no major problem, but an entire house with old knob and tube wiring will have trouble meeting VA regulations.

4. Heating must be adequate. The home’s heating system must be safe and adequate. Any unvented space heaters must be inspected by a heating contractor, equipped with an oxygen sensor and meet all building codes or manufacturer’s recommendations. Homes that use wood-burning stoves as a primary heating source must also have a conventional heating system that maintains a temperature of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Property must have domestic hot water, continuing supply of safe drinking water and safe method of sewage disposal. Water quality must meet local standards (usually set by the health department), and sewage systems must adequately dispose of waste.

6. Roofing must be adequate and provide reasonable future utility. The roof condition will be closely examined by the VA appraiser. When a defective roof with three or more layers of shingles must be replaced, all old shingles must first be removed.

7. Crawl space must have adequate access, be clear of all debris and be properly vented. Any excessive dampness or pooling of water in the crawl space must be corrected. Leaky basements can be a deal breaker for many VA house hunters. Foundation problems are common among older homes and can be expensive to correct.

8. Utility services must be independent for each living unit, unless there are separate shut-offs for each unit. This isn’t typically a problem for most properties.

9. Properties must have safe access from the street. Properties must have private driveways or permanent easements to allow access.

10. Properties must be free of any hazards which adversely affect health and safety of the occupants. This is a rather vague statement by the VA. The VA does not include specific criteria that must be met under this category, so “hazards” can be left to the interpretation of the appraiser.

11. No defective conditions which impair the safety, sanitation or structural soundness of the dwelling. Appraisers are advised to watch for defective construction, poor workmanship, evidence of continuing settlement, excessive dampness, leakage and decay.

12. Lot must be graded so that it prevents pooling of water on the site and drains water away from the home. Poor drainage can lead to expensive exterior and foundation problems, so look for homes on properly elevated sites.

13. No wood-destroying insects, fungus growth or dry rot. A termite inspection may be required in your area. Properties with termite infestations must be treated and re-evaluated to garner VA approval.

14. Lead-based paint must be evaluated and corrected. Properties built before 1978 must be inspected for lead-based paint. Surfaces with cracked or chipped lead-based paint must either be scraped and repainted, covered with drywall, or totally removed.

The best way to provide sound assistance to your military house hunters is to be well-versed in VA MPRs. Military buyers who pursue properties in poor condition can be headed straight for disappointment. Save your buyers time and money by conducting a focused search on homes that can easily win VA approval.

For a complete list of VA appraisal criteria, see VA Pamphlet 26-7 or contact Veterans United Realty at 800-985-5723.

Photo courtesy of Neubie.


Posted by Jessi Hall
| jhall@veteransunited.com


86 Comments

  1. Conradc
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    As a military friendly real estate agent it is good to be familiar with these MPR’s.

    • Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree. Pursuing an ineligible property can really delay the process for vets and active-duty service members, so it’s essential to have a solid knowledge of MPRs. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Cari Ritchey, CRS OK
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    As a military friendly Realtor in Stillwater Oklahoma, when listing a property I always educate the seller about MPS’s. Doing so ahead of time will allow them to be ready for ALL offers (including VA) and avoid disappointment later in the transaction.

    • Posted November 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Good for you, Cari! Every good agent should have a solid understanding of VA MPRs!

  3. yadira lanier
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Me and my husband are thinking of buying our first home using the Va loan. Does anyone know how to start.

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Yadira – It’s usually best to talk to a VA lender before embarking on the house hunt. Through prequalification or preapproval, you’ll get a sense of your eligibility for the program, and the size of loan you could obtain. Veterans United Home Loans has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and specializes in VA loans. You can reach a Veterans United VA loan specialist by calling 888-212-1958 or visiting http://www.veteransunited.com.

  4. Louis Larsen
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m about to apply for a VA loan and need to know if this is a complete list of MPR’s.

    This will be a refi loan, so I need all the info I can get.

    • Posted December 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Hi Louis – Good time to refi, isn’t it? This is a summary of MPRs – click here for a complete list. Thanks for your service.

      • Patti
        Posted March 11, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for the link! I’m in the process of refinancing my home and my VA appraisal is scheduled for tomorrow. Reading this part of the publication has greatly relieved my anxiety.

  5. Joe Fantazia
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    My son-in-law is in the national guard. He just purchasaed a home on a VA loan. VA Inspector came out. Not sure what they did becasue I have a list of items that are not up to code. Wrong size gas line according to PG&E I replaced it becasue PG&E came out, said it was unsafe and capped it. They were freezing without any heat, so I put it in for them. Sewer backed up on day one and continues to be a problem (in home 1 month now). Sewer pipes in one area of the home all 1 1/2 inch, not up to code . They sent a pumber out and snaked the drain but it is clogged again. No clean outs, with slab foundation add-on where clean out should be. What are some ways these kids can get some help and who can the speak to? I thought VA had some guidlines of minimum requiremnts.

    • Posted January 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for contacting us, Joe, and we’re sorry to hear of your situation. This is a tough one. Here’s how the VA instructs its appraisers to handle local codes: “The appraiser should not require repairs just because a property does not meet local code unless it is in a ‘Code Enforcement Area’ where the local authorities require compliance with code when properties are sold.” If you find that the VA appraiser acted outside of this guideline, you could file a complaint against the appraiser via your local VA Regional Loan Center. I would have your son-in-law at least call the Regional Loan Center to see what his options may be.

      I’m also wondering if your son-in-law hired a professional home inspector to evaluate the home before the purchase. If he did and the inspector missed an obvious defect, he may be able to take legal action. Laws vary from state to state, so your son-in-law should talk to an attorney about your options.

      Let us know what you find out – I’d be interested to know how the VA will respond to this situation. Best of luck to you and your family.

      • Dennis
        Posted June 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        Most seasoned Appraisers include a statement that they are not “Home Inspectors” and recommend that the buyer get a home inspection for their protection. Compliance with local building codes are an important factor in the appraisal process however, The appraisal is intended to determine value for a mortgage transaction. The buyer in any real estate transaction should never rely on the appraisal to protect him from costs caused by any unforseen/non observable conditions.

  6. Mike
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Does the VA do Manufactured (double wide) loans. If they do, what do they require?

    • Posted February 4, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Hi Mike – The VA doesn’t actually issue loans. That duty falls in the hands of a VA lender. It’s generally tough to find a VA lender willing to issue loans for manufactured homes, since these homes usually depreciate quicker than traditionally-built homes. You might want to start with your local bank, and work your way out from there. Best of luck to you!

  7. waverly
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    was waitng for my apraisal to come
    what happens when it comes back lower than the value of the house

    • Posted February 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Hi there – if the appraisal value comes back low, you have a few options:

      1) Ask the seller to lower the purchase price;
      2) Make up the difference in cash;
      3) If you can prove the value is erroneously low, you might want to pursue a secondary appraisal via the VA’s “Reconsideration of Value” option.

      You can get more info in this blog post: “How to Challenge a Low Appraisal Value“. Let us know if you have any other questions, and thanks!

  8. Tina Royea
    Posted February 7, 2013 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    My son is trying to buy his first home on a VA loan… his agent is telling him that the house he wants will not qualify for a VA loan because it does not have a stove or a dishwasher…it doesnt have any appliances but those are the ones he says are required….is this true..and why… he actually owns his own appliances in the rental he has now.

    • Posted February 7, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Hi Tina – Thanks for the question. A home doesn’t need kitchen appliances to qualify for a VA loan. The VA appraiser ensures that homes are safe and move-in ready. A home doesn’t need kitchen appliances to be either safe or move-in ready. Let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks again!

      • Dave Driscoll
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        Wrong. The home requires a stove and dishwasher, and in some states, the fridge and/or washer and dryer. I have never seen a waiver for a stove or dishwasher.

        • Posted July 15, 2013 at 6:48 am | Permalink

          Hi Dave – Thanks for submitting your thoughts. Could you submit documentation to back this up? To the best of my knowledge, the VA does not require appliances to be present. Specific lenders may issue their own requirements, though. Thanks again!

  9. Jeanine Farrar
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    We are trying to buy a first home on a VA loan. The property has a detached garage that has no door at all. The appraiser is saying we have to have a overhead door. Is that correct?
    Also, can we do the repairs ourselves or at least some of them? The home is a foreclosure and the bank will not let any repairs be made until after closing. We are looking at an Escrow account for repairs, but would like to do some of the minor stuff ourselves. (like sealing the porch that is raw wood) and other small stuff like that.

    Please let me know.

    Jeanine

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Hi Jeanine: Just want to make sure I have this correct: You’ve already had the appraisal done, and the VA appraiser is requiring that you install an overhead door? Was that noted in the VA appraisal report? If so, was a reason given? Just trying to get as much information possible.

      There aren’t any “hard and fast” VA appraisal rules (that I’m aware of) that require installation of a garage door. But if the VA appraiser feels that the home isn’t safe, secure and move-in-ready due to a missing garage door, the door will have to be installed in order for your loan to close.

      You mention that the home is a foreclosure, which is going to present challenges. As you know, most banks sell homes “as is” and won’t do any repairs. I wouldn’t recommend doing ANY repairs on a home you don’t own. If the loan doesn’t close for some reason, you’re out the time, energy and money you put into a property that was never yours. Good luck to you!

  10. Arnie
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I saw this question already asked but want to make sure. Usaa and local loan offices have told me that to get a va loan there must be a range in the house. My appraisal was last week and placed a receipt for a stove on the counter. I heard that this works sometimes?

    • Posted March 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Hi Arnie – You’ll need to discuss this with your specific lender. The VA doesn’t specifically require a home to have an oven, but your lender might. Talk with your lender and see what they’re recommending.

  11. Hillary
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Hi!
    My boyfriend is wanting to by a home that was foreclosed on and now is the REO of HUD. The property inspection report says that the Hot Water heater needs to be replaced. The utilities are not on so their assessment is inconclusive at this time but, would that interfere with purchasing the home with a VA loan? It’s an easy fix and we would get a new one as soon as we move in, if our bid was accepted, that is.

    • Posted March 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Hi Hillary – Thanks for the question. This is a tough one – the VA appraiser may or may not have an issue with the condition of the water heater. In order to meet the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements, a home must have access to hot water. Depending on the water heater’s condition, the VA appraiser may require that the water heater be fixed prior to VA loan approval. If the property is an REO, it’s probably being sold “as-is,” which would be a problem. All repairs MUST be completed by the seller before a VA loan can close. My best advice is to work with an experienced buyer’s agent, preferably one with VA loan experience, who can counsel you thought this situation. If you need help locating such an agent, please contact Veterans United Realty at 800-985-5723. Thanks, Hillary!

  12. Rebecca
    Posted March 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    It seems as if most homes won’t even accept a VA loan, and if they do you are faced with multiple offers where the agent may encourage the seller to accept a conventional loan over a VA loan to avoid the VA inspection. We are in the middle of a short sale and have been approved for a conventional loan at a higer rate, but also qualify for a VA loan. We are ringing our hands, because the property seems to be just fine, but the seller has refused to make any repairs. So if there is something minor (like the above mentioned stair rail)we will have to convince our lender to let us fix it or we will have to use the conventional loan and spend 1000s more in interest over the life of the loan. The market is definitely a sellers one, we are lucky to get this house at this price, but wonder if we will be able to use our VA benefits on ANY property in a sellers market with low inventory?

    • Posted March 22, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      That’s a difficult situation, Rebecca. VA loans can only be used to purchase homes in good repair, so the condition of the property is extremely important. A home’s condition is even more important when you’re purchasing a home sold “as-is.” Are you working with a good real estate agent (one with VA loan experience)? An experienced buyer’s agent can be your best resource in this situation. Someone who has been through a local VA appraisal can offer excellent advice, and can let you know if the home is going to make it through the VA appraisal unscathed. If you need help locating an agent, please contact Veterans United Realty at 800-985-5723. Veterans United Realty maintains a nationwide database of military-friendly agents, and can attempt to locate a skilled agent in your area.

      You might also want to check out our “Buying a Foreclosure or Short Sale with a VA Loan” Guide – this resource is chock-full of helpful advice for your situation. Best of luck to you, Rebecca, and let us know if you have any other questions!

  13. Tabitha
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    My husband and I have been per-qualified for a VA loan and have begun the search for our home. So the question I have then is this: when reading a listing online there is a section for the terms of the home. Be it FHA, conventional, or VA. If, in the term section of the listing, it doesn’t mention VA loan does this mean the house won’t qualify or they just don’t want to sell using this type of loan?

    • Posted April 7, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      Hi Tabitha – Thanks for reaching out. There could be several reasons that VA financing isn’t listed in the description. Perhaps it was a clerical error. Maybe the sellers worry that the home won’t meet VA property standards. Maybe the sellers have the misconception that VA loans are impossible to get through escrow, so they don’t want to work with VA buyers. It’s tough to say what’s happening in this situation, and it never hurts to ask! Have your agent give the seller’s agent a call and see what’s going on! Best of luck to you!

  14. Kurt
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Hi, I’m in the process of buying a home with a VA loan. The house is in great condition and only had minor issues noted by the inspector and I’m waiting for the appraiser. My question is, how much scrutiny is used on out buildings on the property, not the main living area? There is an older building that needs paint bad and has a couple shingle tabs missing, but otherwise they’re structurally sound. It’s just a storage building so how does it come into play? Will the appraiser insist it be painted, shingles fixed, etc. before the sale? Thanks.

    • Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Kudos to you for getting a home inspection! Sounds like you’re off to a great start with your purchase! I wouldn’t be too concerned about the missing shingles on your outbuilding, but the paint could be a problem. If the outbuilding was built in 1978 or before, appraisers are required to make the outbuilding “subject to” repair (which means scraping/repainting, because lead-based paint may have been used). If the outbuilding was constructed from 1979-on, lead-based paint isn’t an issue. In that case, repairs will probably only be ordered if the appraiser feels the structure is at serious risk of decay due to the lack of paint. Any other questions?

      • Kurt
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for your quick reply! I don’t know for certain when the out building was constructed, but would have to guess it’s been painted since 1979. That said, it’s in serious need of scraping and painting, but the wood itself is in good condition. My fear is the seller won’t want to paint the building before closing – then what should I do? They did say if I did the work, they would reduce the price, but I don’t have a guarantee that they won’t back out, if they do, then I’m left with nothing…
        From what I’ve read here and other places, it sounds like an appraiser’s judgment call on the building, correct?
        Thanks again!

        • Posted April 12, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          Hi there, Kurt – I wouldn’t ever recommend that someone do repairs on a property they don’t own. Too much can go awry. Lead-based paint is a safety issue, and if an appraiser suspects lead-based paint is present and peeling, there’s not really a judgment call to be made. They’re required to make the property “subject to” repair. But perhaps the lead-based paint has already been removed. Perhaps the building was constructed after 1979. It’s tough to say at this point. Let us know what happens when you get the results of the appraisal, and we’ll go from there. Have a good weekend!

  15. Faith
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    VA buyer buying first home in Georgia with VA loan
    Newer home sold as is with no kitchen appliances and an almost new swimming pool
    Will VA appraiser require appliances before appraisal and for pool pump to be functional

    • Posted April 11, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Hi Faith – Congrats on the purchase of your first home! Very exciting! The lack of appliances shouldn’t be a problem. The pool pump might. A VA appraiser is required to ensure a home is “safe, structurally sound, and sanitary.” If a broken pool pump is causing the pool to be “unsanitary,” the appraiser might make the purchase “subject to” repair of the pool pump. That will be a judgment call made by your individual appraiser. Keep us posted, and let us know if you have any additional questions.

  16. Tim Spang
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I just made an offer on a Short Sale home with a swimming pool that is in need of repair. This is my first home purchase, and I don’t think my buyer’s agent is very familiar with VA loans. The pool liner needs replaced, and the pool is half full of green water. I’m not sure if the pump works or not. The home is being sold “as is.” Will this fail a VA appraisal? I really like the home!

    • Posted April 12, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Hi Tim – The VA appraiser has to ensure the home is “safe, structurally sound, and sanitary.” A broken pool pump leads to green water, which VA appraisers sometimes consider unsanitary. The VA appraiser may make your VA purchase “subject to” repair of the pump. That’s usually not an expensive repair, so you might be able to convince the bank to do the repair. Get your agent’s assistance during those negotiations – you’ll certainly need it. Best of luck to you, and thanks for your service!

      • Tim Spang
        Posted April 12, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        Thank you for the quick reply. The pool has a cover. If I drain the pool, and put the cover on, will that consider the pool safe and sanitary? Thanks again!

        • Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

          Hi Tim – Thanks again. It’s my understanding that if a pool is present, it needs to be in working order. If the pool is empty, the VA appraiser may require that the pool be filled and the pump tested. You might want to speak with your VA Regional Loan Center to get a better idea of the regulations for your area. You can find your local office here: http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/contact_rlc_info.asp

          Thanks, Tim!

  17. Heather
    Posted April 12, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi! We are buying our first home with a VA loan. So far everything seems to
    Be going well except getting the VA Appraisal. It was ordered 10 business days ago and we still haven’t heard anything back. Do the timelines on the VA website mean anything because for the area we are going it says that the Appraisal should actually be done within 7 business days. Should we be worried and bugging someone about this? Thanks.

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Hi Heather – The national average to complete a VA appraisal is 10 days. But there are certainly regional differences. I would check in with your lender, who is responsible for ordering the appraisal. Get an update every day or so, and go from there. Thanks, Heather!

  18. Roger
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    We are selling a house built in 1979. It is in good repair. We have a buyer that is retiring out of the Marimes and we really want them, to have the house. The house has been inspected and we have done most of the repairs stated in the inspection. An issue that was brought up was the electric panel is in one of the bedroom closets. Is this a major issue for the appraisal under VA?

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Kudos to you, Roger! Thanks for supporting those who serve! I’ve never heard of the location of the electric panel being a problem, so I wouldn’t worry too much. Best of luck to you, and thanks again for your support! :)

  19. Jenn Scott
    Posted May 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    We are in the middle of this whole process. We’ve gotten an inspection- had some things that needed to be fix & the seller is having most of them fixed. The only thing remaining is a blistered cast iron pipe in the basement ceiling that carries the sewage to the septic system that needs to be replaced sometime in the future. My question is, is this an issue for the appraiser that will hinder our loan? Also- a friend said there is a second inspection done with VA loans(at the same time as the appraisal) is this true?

    • Posted May 10, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      Hi Jenn – Thanks for the question! The condition of the pipe may or may not be a problem. If the pipe is against code or the appraiser feels it is at risk of imminent failure, it may need to be replaced. The only reason you would need a “secondary” or “final” VA appraisal is if the initial appraisal report is asking for repairs. Once the repairs are completed, a VA appraiser will come out to make sure the repairs are satisfactory. For more information, you might want to check out this VA Appraisal Guide. Let us know if you have any other questions, and thanks again!

  20. Jonathan Mason
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    In the event a property with dwelling has more than 10 acres will there be a problem approving the VA Loan?

    • Posted May 22, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Hi Jonathan – Thanks for the question. You can purchase a home on acreage, but sometimes all acreage is not given “value” for purposes of the loan. That can occasionally mean that the home won’t appraise for the purchase price. But in the grand scheme of things, 10 acres isn’t a huge chunk of land, and might not affect the purchase too drastically. The best way to proceed is with an agent who has VA loan experience, and can advise you appropriately. If you need help locating a military-friendly real estate agent, you can reach Veterans United Realty at 800-985-5723. Thanks again – let me know if you have any other questions!

  21. Marie
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Our home is under contract and originally the purchaser was going with a conventional loan. They now want to switch to VA financing. We’ve heard that a VA appraisal will “stick” to the house, so if it doesn’t appraise and the purchasers wish to walk away, then the next VA buyer who comes along will also be subject to this same appraisal value. Is this true?

    • Posted May 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Hi Marie – A VA appraisal is valid for 6 months. But that doesn’t mean the appraisal “sticks to the house.” Lenders prefer to order a separate VA appraisal with each contract. So if your VA purchasers walk away, the next VA buyer will have a brand new appraisal ordered through his/her lender. Hopefully that answers your question – let us know if you have any others!

  22. patty stein
    Posted May 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    We are trying to re-fi our home. When we bought 20 yrs ago it past a VA inspection. Due to an error on our last ref yrs ago we found that the refi went conventional. We are trying to refi again as a VA loan. The Appraisor just left our home saying that we must fix our garage door and put a hand rail for the 3 steps on our porch. If we don’t do this we cant get a VA. Loan. How did we pass the first inspection for the steps? Our garage door has a ding from a bump from the snow blower. It will be replaced in the fall.

    • Posted May 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Hi Patty – Thanks for the question. VA appraisal standards change from time to time, so that could be the reason you’re seeing different results these days. Were any other repairs ordered?

  23. Anne
    Posted May 26, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    We are selling our house to buyers who are using a VA loan. After the VA appraisal we were required to fill a hole in the siding (it was a knot hole in cedar siding), fix a leaking spigot (it was simply not turned all the way off), and scrape and repaint a large portion of our house, as well as pick up and remove from the property all paint chips from scraping. The paint was peeling in sections and our buyers knew they would be repainting. Our house was built in 1984…well after the 1978 lead paint clean up requirment. We did the repairs because it was faster than arguing them but is this standard or was the appraiser especially tough and perhaps mistaken about the peeling paint?

    • Posted May 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Hi Anne – Thanks for the question. VA appraisers can also request a paint repair on a post-lead-paint-era home, if he/she feels the surface underneath is at risk of decay. If large sections of the wood siding were exposed to the elements, the VA appraiser probably wasn’t out of line in recommending a paint repair. Let me know if you have any other questions, and best of luck to you as a seller!

  24. Beverly L.
    Posted June 4, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jessi,

    I have a quick question. I am in the process of looking and hopefully purchasing a home through the VA Loan. I wanted to see what kind of home is covered. I know my bank says no Modular Homes. Are Condos and/or Townhomes acceptable homes to use it on? And do they have to go through a different type of inspection? Thanks for your help. I am working with a realtor, however he and my banker aren’t sure about what the appraiser would approve.

    Thanks, Beverly.

    • Posted June 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Hi Beverly – Thanks for reaching out. The VA loan program DOES allow for financing of manufactured homes, modular homes, condos and townhomes. BUT, lenders can opt out of financing any property they wish. Veterans United, the nation’s #1-dedicated VA lender DOES finance modular homes, condos and townhomes, but your current bank may not. Talk it out with your lender, and if you’d like to speak with a Veterans United VA loan specialist, feel free to give us a call at 888-212-1958. Thanks, Beverly!

  25. Dennis
    Posted June 10, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Hello Jessi,

    I am hoping you can give me some guidance. I am in the process of purchasing a house through a VA loan. The appraisal just came back and the appraiser requires that additional railings be installed on the stairway leading up to the front door (the front stoop already has railings). The drop off from the stairs to the ground is not that high and according to a local contractor, the stairs without a railing are up to code and the city does not require that railings exist if the drop off is within a certain distance from the ground, which it is. Is the appraiser allowed to require improvements that are beyond the city’s standard? Thanks for your help.

    • Posted June 12, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Hi Dennis – Thanks for the question. In general, VA appraisers are familiar with (and follow) local code. But the VA appraiser is also free to require fixes that go above and beyond local code. And in some areas, the VA does issue very specific guidelines with regards to railings (size, space between rails, etc.). So the VA appraiser isn’t out of line in making these requests. Hopefully your seller will be agreeable to making the suggested changes so the sale can proceed. Keep us posted, and let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks again, Dennis!

  26. T J
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    What are the VA requirements for concrete floors? I had a VA appraisal in Jul 2012. I am refinancing and had a second appraisal in Mar/April 2013. In my first appraisal the appraiser noted the floors as painted concrete and gave the home a C4 condition code. In the second appraisal the home was given a C5 rating because of the floors; even though the floors were the same. This action put a hold as my loan company only funds home loans on houses up to a C4 rating. I have the minimum housing standards for a VA loan but cannot find any guidelines on a concrete floor. FHA guidelines allow for a concrete floor if it painted and not bare. I have tried working with the regional center. But now feel I must contact the central VA Housing Office in Washington D.C. to seek guidance on this matter. But I am having a hard time getting this number. I have just been given numbers from various regional centers but to no avail. If any one has this number I would really appreciate them posting it to this blog. Thanks for your help.

    • Posted June 12, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Hi TJ – Thanks for reaching out. What feedback are you getting from your Regional Loan Center? To the best of my knowledge, there’s no specific guideline regarding concrete floors. Was the C5 rating attributed solely to the concrete floors, or were other deficiencies mentioned? Thanks again, and I’ll do what I can to help!

  27. Sonny Triplett
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Two weeks ago today a VA appraiser went thru the home we are selling in Michigan. About 10 days later he advised the buyer’s realtor he was unfamiliar with the area and needed more comps which were immediately sent to him. Now, 14 days not counting weekends we still don’t have a value. We have had to get 3 time extensions on the home we are looking to buy.This is my 4th VA home. Never a glitch. The one we are looking at in Florida was inspected, termite inspection, VA appraisal, and the bank wanted to close within 3 weeks. When calling the regional VA they commented that we “got the slowest appraiser in their area”.
    As a disabled veteran I’ve always praised the service the VA has provided, even medical.
    This is very disappointing.

    • Posted July 1, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Hi Sonny – Thanks so much for your service. I’m very sorry to hear of your situation – I understand how disappointing it is to experience these delays. Stay in touch with your agent, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you.

  28. Ryanne
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    The buyer of our home is getting a VA loan and the appraisal is in two days. They already had the inspector out and we passed with flying colors. Do we have anything to worry about with the appraisal? I’m stressed about it and trying to get the house in “show-room order” again for the appraisal. This is the last step and our termite inspection was clean as well. What do I really need to concentrate on as far as the look of the house?

    • Posted July 10, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      Hi Ryanne – Thanks for reaching out! The VA appraiser won’t be concerned in the least about cosmetic issues, so you don’t need to worry about “the look of the house.” You might want to leave a list of improvements you’ve done (with completion dates) with the appraiser. Otherwise, as long as your home meets the basic criteria outlined in this post, you shouldn’t have any issues. If there’s a particular issue you’re concerned about, let me know and I’ll be glad to give you more specific feedback! Sounds like you’re in great shape for a quick close! Thanks again for reaching out, and for supporting our service members!

  29. Amy
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Hello. My husband and I have put a bid in on a HUD home and are anxiously awaiting the response. I am confident about our bid, so in the meantime, I am wringing my hands about the appraisal.
    The home has a list of repairs with Insured Escrow to cover them. I have talked to the Regional VA Center a couple of times and they are assuring me that they are most likely not MPRs, but I am still concerned about the appraisal based on some of the very minor things they call out on their reports. I read that an MPR can be waived by the field office if a Vet & Lender request an exemption in writing… have you seen this and any of the results of this? And, if there is the Insured Escrow for the items, won’t that be taken into consideration that the buyer will make the repairs upon closing?

    • Posted August 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Hi Amy – Thanks for reaching out. The HUD home will need to be in MPR condition before your VA loan can close. So a lot is riding on the issues that come up during the appraisal. A VA lender is going to order that repairs be completed BEFORE the loan closes, and “insured escrow” funds can only be used (I believe) with an FHA mortgage. That’s why it’s traditionally difficult to purchase a HUD home in need of MPR repairs with a VA loan. Stay in constant contact with your lender and agent, and follow their advice. Best of luck to you.

  30. Cynthia
    Posted August 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Will the VA inspection pass a house with wooden windows that look rotted out in a few spots? This is a house built in 2006. And it also looks like one non essential room (study) has either mold or smoke damage?

    • Posted August 8, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Hi Cynthia – Thanks for reaching out. The appraiser will likely ask that the rotten wood be removed and replaced. I don’t think smoke damage would be a huge concern, but if mold is obvious and significant, the appraiser will probably ask for repair. Best of luck to you, and keep us posted.

  31. Terry Kimbrell
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    As you know Las Vegas was hit hard by the housing crash. We have been looking for a new home for 3 months and keep hitting a brick wall as far as the VA appraisal. There’s been a short sale or foreclosure in almost every neighbor you go into and our real estate runs the comps and the va appraisal won’t come in. We decided to buy a new home and will be closing in 90 days. My questions are:
    1)Does the VA Appraiser have to get the comp from another new home in the subdivision that closed recently?
    2)Does the comp have to be from a VA Appraisal or can they use a comp from an FHA or conventional loan?
    3)If there are no recent comps in the subdivision, will they then have to go outside of the area and get comps from existing homes? That could be a problem due to the short sales in older neighborhoods.
    Thank You

    • Posted August 21, 2013 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Hi Terry – Thanks for reaching out. Here are a few answers for you:
      1) The VA appraiser is looking for sales as similar to yours as possible. So yes, this means they’ll first turn to recent sales of new homes within the same neighborhood. But if those homes aren’t similar to yours, they’ll go outside of the immediate neighborhood.
      2) The comp does NOT have to be a VA sale. It can be any type of sale.
      3) Yes, they often do go to the surrounding area for comps.

      Appraisers look for comps that truly represent the market. If your market is saturated with REOs and short sales, then comps will often include those types of sales. And that’s not inappropriate. Those sales ARE reflective of current market activity. Keep working with your agent – if you have a good one, they’ll steer you in the right direction. Best to you!

  32. Kelley Cowles
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Hello. My husband and I currently have a VA loan. We are refinancing first and second mortgages with a VA loan. The appraiser has not been out yet. Our home meets all the requirements but we are worried about cosmetic repairs. Should we paint and fix up the exterior before the appraisal? The paint on the actual house is fine it’s our garage and shed that need some work. How big of a role does this play in the appraisal. Thank you for your time.

    • Posted August 29, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kelley – Thanks for reaching out. Improving the condition of your property can only help the VA appraisal. Cosmetic issues like colors aren’t really taken into consideration by the appraiser, but the CONDITION of the paint certainly can affect the appraisal. It’s tough to say if repainting could either make or break your appraisal, but it certainly couldn’t hurt. Best of luck to you!

  33. jeremy hills
    Posted September 9, 2013 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    I have a house picked out, lender approved..the house is bank owned ..they’ve accepted my offer, but havent signed yet. My lender told me that the home will most likely not be VA approved , or pass the appraisal. They only said this after I told them that the previous owners or tennants may have used the downstairs as a personal dog kennel, as there is significant signs of this with scratching and holes chewed out in the drywall, also signes of fecal matter on the concrete floor. The smell is somewhat unbearable but I have no problem with cleaning floors and pulling carpet and painting. I imagine this will bring up red flags to an appraiser. I know the house will take minimal effort for the cosmetics. I just need a few days off from work to get it done. I am willing to pay out of pocket for new drywall, carpet and paint. My realtor, who is also my mother in law is now pressing the sellers agent to include possible repairs if we raise the purchasing price. Hoping they accept this new offer. Also, with the VA loan, how much is it to us for an appraisal, or a second appraisal after work has been done?

    • Posted September 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jeremy – Thanks for reaching out. There are several red flags here. The VA requires homes to be “safe, sanitary and structurally sound.” The issues that you’ve mentioned may not meet a VA appraiser’s sanitary standards. A VA loan can’t move forward until the issues are repaired, so your agent is right – you definitely need to ask the seller to complete the necessary repairs. It’s not something you can choose to repair – the seller must be the one to do the repairs, and they must be done prior to close. If it’s a bank-owned property, the seller may not agree to do any repairs. In that situation, a VA loan really isn’t your best option. If you feel this is a “must-have” home for you, you’re probably going to have to choose a different financing option. If you are able to get the seller to agree to repairs and choose to go ahead with a VA loan, the cost for the appraisal (and second appraisal) is determined by state of purchase. You can take a look at the fee for your state here. Thanks for reaching out, and please let us know if you have any other questions.

  34. Jeff Smith
    Posted September 17, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    We are selling a house to someone using VA financing. The house passed inspection with no issues. The VA inspector, however, came back with some railing and painting requirements. I want to know if the cost of these repairs can be shared with the buyer? We have already negotiated a price based on the home inspection, and I don’t agree with a second list of work being given to us if we cannot negotiate its cost. Thanks.

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Hi Jeff – Thanks for reaching out. Everything’s negotiable in real estate! Talk to your agent and see if it makes sense to negotiate a higher purchase price to cover your costs. But be prepared for the buyer to refuse, because that’s certainly a possibility. Also keep in mind that the buyer can’t obtain a VA loan above the home’s appraisal value. So if you’re planning to increase the purchase price to cover repair costs, make sure you’re not going above the VA appraisal value. Best of luck to you, and thanks again!

  35. Disbelief
    Posted October 3, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    I have been trying to buy a home. My real estate agent had us order a home inspection before the VA appraiser was assigned. He provided the appraiser, loan officer and myself a copy. The home has numerous repairs needed. My real estate agent advised me not to buy this home. My wife and I love it. The VA appraiser did a horrible job and SAR stated no repairs were necessary. My real estate agent notified my loan officer of the problem. SAR reviewed the appraisal again. It issued six vague and broad requirements. Our estimates show the required repair cost to be $18,000 on a $155,000 house. Now the seller will not negotiate the repairs and refuses to make all the VA required repairs. What are my options? I have approximately $4,000 in closing costs incurred. The seller signed the NC FHA/VA Addendum with the Offer to Purchase contract.

    It appears the seller wants me to terminate the contract, when in fact she is in breach of the contract.

    Help!

    • Samantha Reeves
      Posted October 7, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Hello,
      I’d suggest you talk with an attorney if you believe there is a breach of contract. I’d talk with your loan officer to see what options you have available for moving forward. Generally if the repairs are listed as necessary by the appraiser and the SAR they have to be repaired before you can close on the loan or escrow holdbacks have to be established.
      Samantha

  36. Unsure
    Posted November 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    We are under contract to buy a 3 yr old home. The current owners finished the basement but did not install an egress window or door as is required by local code. Which the home inspector noted in his report. Is this something the VA Appraisal would mark as needing to be repaired before closing? Or if we are not using it as living space will it not matter? Everything else in the house is new and there are no other issues.

    • Samantha Reeves
      Posted November 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Hello Unsure,
      If a portion of the building is not up to code it’s very likely that it would have to be remedied prior to closing if the appraisal notes the issue.
      Samantha

  37. Rebecca
    Posted November 25, 2013 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    We are currently in contract to purchase a home built in 2008,currently awaiting VA appraisal. During our walk though the only thing we noticed in need of repair was a couple small holes in wall, stairs leading to garage has 3 steps may need a rail…but biggest concern is a few of the door jambs look like they need to be replaced and some trim around the door a couple doors have small holes in them.My question is, would that be more cosmetic repair or safety/structural? Other then that home looks to be in amazing shape.

    • Samantha Reeves
      Posted November 26, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Hi Rebecca,
      The appraiser has some discretion here. I believe it would be dependent on the size of the holes – if we’re talking nail holes it shouldn’t be an issue, if we are talking about holes big enough where you can see through the Sheetrock that could be an issue. The good news here is that none of the repairs you mentioned should cost all the much to repair and shouldn’t take much time to complete if they are noted on the appraisal.
      -Samantha

  38. veree carter
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi can you please advise do I need insulation in my basement rafters I live in a row home. No out side walls but the front wall? My house is old but in fairly good shape. Also please advise about windows is the a requirements that they stay open?

    • Samantha Reeves
      Posted April 10, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Hi Veree,
      If the windows work, and aren’t broken then they should be ok, but I do believe they would need to open for safety reasons.
      Regarding the insulation, I think this will be dependent on a few factors. First being if not having insulation would be a safety or health hazard to occupants. If no, then we’d go to whether this condition is common in your area. If it is, an appraiser is less likely to have an issue with it.
      - Samantha

  39. Jason
    Posted August 2, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Greetings! We have accepted an offer from a VA mortgage buyer. We are selling the home ourselves and the purchase agreement/contract states that the seller will have an inspection within 10 days and if not the house is deemed acceptable. We are at day 10 and have heard nothing from the buyer or their realtor. At this point, if we follow the agreement and assume everything is acceptable, how does that play out with the buyer attempting to secure the VA mortgage loan?
    Thank you for your input!

    • Samantha Reeves
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Hi Jason,
      I’d suggest reviewing your contract for all the contingencies. There may be additional ones that cover ability to obtain financing. Additionally all VA loans are required to have a VA amendment to contract which covers the appraisal process.
      Samantha

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] the problem isn’t so much that VA borrowers get penalized. It’s more that lingering misconceptions often keep sellers and agents alike from giving military homebuyers a fair shake. The simple [...]

  2. [...] calculate a home’s reasonable market value and ensures the property measures up to the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements [...]

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Samantha Reeves

Samantha Reeves maintains the Veterans United Realty blog for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation's leading VA-approved lender. As a prior loan officer, Samantha brings her vast experience dealing with the VA home loan all the way from initial application, to loan funding. She knows how the system works and brings you information and tips on how to make your VA home loan transaction go as smoothly as possible.


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