What Is A Desktop Appraisal?

You have a property that needs to be appraised as soon as possible.

You feel like it’s a waste of money to pay the price of a full appraisal. 

You ask around, and you find out there’s this desktop appraisal option; it’s cheaper, quicker, and nobody is actually visiting the property.

What more could someone who’s in a hurry ask for, right?

Before you jump on the bandwagon of desktop appraisal, we’ll give you a detailed explanation of what it really is and should you choose this option. 

Too many people are looking for ways to save a buck without actually doing enough research to make an informed decision. 

We’re here to save you from making that mistake. 

What Is A Desktop Appraisal?

A desktop appraisal is an appraisal done from the office, at a desk. 

Hence the name desktop appraisal.

This means the appraiser will not be visiting the property at all, saves you the hassle of making coffee for him. 

Instead, the appraiser relies on things such as County records, Google Maps, MLS listings, and homeowners’ description. 

And they do everything from the comfort of their office. 

Plus, they get to make you some coffee. 

Keep in mind, desktop appraisal still needs to be conducted by a legitimate appraiser. 

If this appraisal thing sounds interesting to you, you might want to consider reading our article on how to pass the real estate appraisal exam?

Even though it sounds fairly simple and hassle-free, you can’t do it by yourself. 

How Much Does A Desktop Appraisal Cost?

It usually costs somewhere between 75 dollars and 200 dollars.

Given the fact that the full appraisal costs somewhere around 500 dollars, this will be a no-brainer for most people. 

Want to know how much your friend whose working as an appraiser earns? Read this article on the average appraisal fees, you might be surprised. 

But it’s not so cut and dry as it sounds. 

There are some downsides to this method, and some people might want to reconsider using it and choose the traditional full appraisal instead. 

Let’s see why.

Downsides Of Using A Desktop Appraisal

Rdl What Is A Desktop Appraisal

We’ve said some pretty good things about it so far, but not everything is so spectacular. Let’s go over some potential downsides of a desktop appraisal. 

Hit The Nail On The Head

  • Since there is no interior or exterior inspection, the appraiser must rely on written documents and google maps. 
  • That means accuracy is bound to suffer. 
  • Even though virtual is getting better by the minute, real life is still irreplaceable. 
  • The appraiser will miss something that might have been glaringly obvious if there was a full inspection. 
  • If the data he/she was provided with at the time of the appraisal was not complete or was inaccurate, a client might have a wrong estimate hanging over their head.
  • If your property has some not so obvious attributes, you might miss out on a better price. 

Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

  • If the appraisal doesn’t turn out like you expected, even though you paid half the price, you might have to get a full appraisal anyway.  
  • This means you’ve wasted money that could have otherwise gone towards the service you actually needed. 
  • This is why the next thing we’ll cover is when and when not to use a desktop appraisal. 

When To Use A Desktop Appraisal?

Desktop appraisals are great for suburban houses.

If you have a property that is eerily similar to most of the houses in that neighborhood, then a desktop appraisal is for you. 

Also, if you’re an investor looking to flip a property ASAP, this might be the option for you. 

The internet is getting packed with more information every day. 

Getting an accurate appraisal for a generic house is becoming easier by the minute. 

When Not To Use A Desktop Appraisal?

If you have a house that is unique, you should steer clear from desktop appraisals. 

Appraisers tend to compare the property values in a neighborhood and then provide their estimate based on those numbers. 

If you know your home is worth much more than the average house in your neighborhood, don’t cut corners here. Get a full appraisal. 

Also, if you’re looking to refinance your house through a bank, you’ll not be able to use this option. 

Banks rely on 100 percent accurate data. 

After the 2008 fiasco, they’re under heavy supervision from the government, and they can’t afford to gamble here. 

As we said, there are situations where a desktop appraisal is not such a good option.

Sure, saving a few bucks here and there is smart, but if you have a mansion from the 1800s that you’d like to sell, get the full appraisal and don’t look back.

Desktop Appraisal – The Gist

They’re getting more popular every year, that’s for sure. 

A desktop appraisal can save you a tremendous amount of time. There’s no denying that. 

Internet databases are getting more and more complete. The accuracy of desktop appraisals is only headed one way and that is up. 

However, be careful if you opt for this possibility.

If you have a unique house or you want to refinance your home, a desktop appraisal will be a waste of money. 

Some people we’ll often cut corners wherever they can, but when it comes to your property value, you might want to think twice before choosing this option.