What is an Appraiser Looking for in the Attic?

I get the question often, “What is an appraiser looking for when they inspect the attic for VA or FHA appraisals?”  Watch this short video and find out.



16 thoughts on “What is an Appraiser Looking for in the Attic?”

  1. Pingback: What is an Appraiser Looking for in the Attic? - Appraisal Buzz

  2. How can one balance stating they inspected the entire attic without crawling or walking the roof trusses to see all areas. To me the only choice is lie and say you saw it all (exposing one’s self to future lawsuits) or not doing FHA work. I am going with the 2nd choice unless the subject does not have an attic. Same applies to houses with crawlspaces as I am not crawling in a 3 foot crawl space.

  3. It appears to me that the new rules will require us to become home inspectors. We are supposed to check to make sure all built-in cabinets and drawers are working. What if these built-ins are in the master bedroom? Am I going to be opening these drawers? I hardly think so. Am I going to run the dishwasher? What if it hasn’t been used in a while and the seals have dried out? What if the homeowner is using it for storage? What if the dishes are clean? Does a lender or AMC want to pay $800 for an appraisal? Do appraisers want to take on more liability? It sounds like we have to look at the entire attic and crawl space. Unless some more reasonable rules come along, I will avoid doing FHA work.

  4. Until FHA requires a whole home inspection from a home inspector, and let’s the appraiser go back to actually appraising…..I am done with FHA.

  5. “I observed the attic by head and shoulders entry. Detailed examination of all surfaces and areas could not be accomplished without compromising the insulation.” That’s what I’ve said in many FHA and HUD reports (which I no longer do.) Just tell them what you did, and if you didn’t do everything they want, tell them why you didn’t. Simple.

    And you’re looking for much more than was mentioned in the video. Is the decking made of plywood or OSB? If so, then it’s OK if there are no water stains or mechanical damage. But if it’s particle board, it’s unacceptable. You’re looking for damaged rafters, to be sure. But you should also know enough about structural components to recognize when there is insufficient wind bracing, or when the unsupported rafter span is to great for the width of lumber used.

    Why do you care? Marketability. Value changes in direct proportion to market demand. If a house doesn’t qualify for FHA financing, then the pool of buyers is constrained. Value is therefore reduced. By how much? That’s for you to find out based on your market data.

  6. FHA also states if you will “disturb” insulation or its a safety issue you do not have to go “into” the attic. So you can safely state that if you can’t see where you are able to safely step then it is a safety issue and just describe what you were able to see. Again if your too fat or you cannot “safely” crawl into a crawl space or if possible scorpions or snakes could be in the area which is my case then just note it and also noted what you were able to safely observe that is still in compliance with FHA. You don’t have to lie or put yourself in jeopardy EVER! Some people just don’t have any common sense! Its so minimal what they are asking, Im no glad none of you are going to do FHA anymore, thats more work for me!

  7. IMHO, The FHA is sticking it to the appraisers with their mandates for inclusion of a home inspection. What are the new fees going to be? At this point I wouldn’t touch an FHA job for less than the combined fee of an appraisal AND a home inspection. As to the attic, I have no intention of “walking” the attic, one miss-step and your going to put a hole in the ceiling. Here in South Florida, the temps in an attic are a killer, you’d be drenched in sweat in just a few minutes. I don’t intend on crawling under a house either. I am not an electrician but I am supposed to check outlets with my handy voltmeter. Oh and yes, the roof inspection to determine how many layers of shingles are installed. I am surprised that we don’t have to walk the roof to inspect. I also love the requirement to know which of the neighboring homes, within “300 ft” of subject, that have underground fuel tanks for use with whole house generators and/or summer kitchens. The SOW creep continues to bury us eventually. Oh, I also expect E&0 premiums will probably rise with this increased liability from the home inspection side of the report. I may still do FHA but the fee is going to have to match the SOW.

  8. Supply and demand guys! If your not smart enough to charge more for the extra work thats your own fault! Of course more work equals MORE pay! How much extra time will this cause you? How much extra risk will it add to your liability and or health/safety issues? climbing ladders, crawling..etc..
    Add that to the cost of the appraisal, if they don’t want to pay it great, find someone who is dumb enough to work for less. I want to work less and make more, once you all start valuing your time and energy you will be able to do the same. This is a PROFESSION, start treating it as one and VALUE YOURSELF! Not many people are becoming appraisers today and rightly so, so if your not charging more you should find another industry to work in.

  9. If there is not a drop stair, plywood over the rafters and any other issues to accessibility, then I will state that it was not safe to access the attic. Same with a crawl space – if I have to get on my knees at all then it’s not accessible. Just state the accessibility issue and move on. Otherwise, good luck to FHA finding an appraiser to do this for any less than a fee $1000. But I’m sure they’ll find an idiot to do it.

  10. Really no big deal unless you’re lazy…..charge a fee in accordance with the extra inspection time, and acquire the knowledge needed to be competent.

  11. Bravo, Bryan!
    Higher fees. Charge what it’s worth. Then add a PITA factor because it’s the government; you’ll have more work to do than is contained in the report.

    If I still wanted to do these, my fee would be $1,500 or more for an FHA/HUD/ job. But laziness has little to do with it. I won’t use a Fannie/Freddie form for reporting. I won’t transmit through a third-party portal. And I don’t accept appraisal orders from anyone but the client unless I am provided with a letter of agency from the client.

    Their scope has creeped. My fees have stayed ahead of them.

  12. I’m somewhat amazed and amused by most responses here. I’m amazed at the appraisers who are actually complying with the FHA inspection requirements re: the attic and all mechanical systems. If you are making ANY judgments on these factors you are a foll who is accepting serious liability. I’m amused at the appraisers complaining about the requirements.

    Bottom line: I only accept FHA orders where the client will allow me to “subject to: the report to a home inspector’s report, PERIOD.

    If they will not allow that, some other FOOL appraiser will accept it is as is and make statements of fact that probably cannot be proved.

    Good luck with that……….

  13. Where is everybody getting their information? This is directly from Hud. There is no change.
    EFFECTIVE 09/14/15
    k. Attic Observation Requirements (09/14/15)

    Effective for case numbers assigned on or after September 14, 2015

    The Appraiser must observe the interiors of all attic spaces.

    The Appraiser is not required to disturb insulation, move personal items, furniture, equipment or debris that obstructs access or visibility. If unable to view the area safely in their entirety, the Appraiser must contact the Mortgagee and reschedule a time when a complete visual observation can be performed, or complete the appraisal subject to inspection by a qualified third party. In cases where access through a scuttle is limited and the Appraiser cannot fully enter the attic, the insertion of at least the head and shoulders of the Appraiser will suffice.

    If there is evidence of a deficient condition (such as a water-stained ceiling, insufficient ventilation, or smell of mold), the Appraiser must report this condition, and render the appraisal subject to inspection and repairs if necessary.

    If there is no access or scuttle, the Appraiser must report the lack of accessibility to the area in the appraisal report. There is no requirement to cut open walls, ceilings or floors.

    An observation performed in accordance with these guidelines is visual and is not technically exhaustive.

  14. Rodrick Thompson

    Got good news on appraisal, then all of a sudden it has to be ran back because they need to see attic FHA of course. Trying to refinance for home Renos, but if numbers are affected I’m done. I’m this process I definitely get my answers on move or renovate. Little frustrating and stressful. E docs being signed, paper work submitted, back and forth on emails and phone calls I’m TIRED!!!!

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