skip to Main Content

VA Loan Appraisals in California: 5 Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about the California VA loan appraisal process, or the costs involved? Keep reading below. We created this short guide to answer some of the most frequently asked questions relating to VA home appraisals in California.

How much do VA appraisals cost in California?

On average, home appraisals typically cost somewhere between $300 and $500. In California, VA appraisals rarely exceed $600. The price can vary based on several factors, including the size of the house. An appraiser might charge more to evaluate a larger home, and vice versa.

As a home buyer, you will probably have to pay the VA appraisal fee upfront, when the services are actually performed. This is how appraisers prefer to be paid, in most cases. So this fee doesn’t usually get rolled into your closing costs.

Related: Maximum VA loan size in California

How long does the process take, on average?

California VA home appraisals usually take around a week to complete, from start to finish. But it can be faster than that in some cases.

While the property visit itself may only take a few hours, there is a lot of additional research that goes into a VA appraisal. The appraiser must also review recent comparable sales in the area to get a feel for market prices, in order to set a value for the property.

Why the VA program is hard to beat

How does the appraiser determine the value of the home?

California VA home appraisers determine the value of a particular property partly based on recent sales data. An appraiser will evaluate the home in much the same way that a real estate agent would. He or she will look at sales prices for similar homes in the area. These are referred to as “comps,” which is short for comparable sales.

The appraiser will also make adjustments, upward or downward, based on the specific features of the house being appraised. For example, if the subject property has a remodeled and upgraded kitchen, the appraiser might adjust it upward from the comparable sales prices. This is one example of a value-adding feature that could increase the home’s market value.

What does the buyer / borrower do during the VA appraisal?

There really isn’t much for the buyer to do during a California VA home appraisal. In most cases, it is the mortgage company that orders and schedules the appraisal.

The appraiser might have to coordinate his visit with the homeowners, in order to gain access to the house (unless a lockbox is being used). But the buyer isn’t involved in this process. The appraiser will determine the value of the house and report back to the mortgage company with his findings.

How is it different from an inspection?

A VA appraisal is not a home inspection. They are two different things.

  • The home appraiser is primarily concerned with the market value of the property.
  • An inspector is concerned with the condition of the home, as well as any items that might need to be repaired.

With that being said, VA appraisals in California do have a basic inspection component. In addition to determining what the house is worth, the appraiser must also ensure that the home meets all minimum property requirements set forth by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA appraiser will evaluate the house for structural soundness, safety, and basic sanitation. But he will not inspect it as thoroughly as a regular home inspector.

As a buyer, you might want to arrange for a separate and more thorough inspection beyond what occurs during the appraisal process.

Ask us! Do you have questions about using a VA loan to buy a home in California? We can help. Our in-house experts can answer any questions you might have about this program. Please contact us to get started.

Mike Trejo

Mike Trejo is a Bay Area mortgage broker with 20+ years of knowledge and experience.

Back To Top