Generally, three types of appraisals can be used for appraising almost any residential property.
These appraisal types are the full appraisal, exterior-only appraisal, and desktop appraisal. The difference between the three is the scope of the inspection.
Each has its pros, cons, and best use case, described below.
A full appraisal is when the appraiser does a complete interior and exterior inspection with measurements, photos, and observation of all rooms in the house.
As you can imagine, this will be the most detailed and accurate because the appraiser collects the most primary data.
- Most Detailed
- Most Accurate
- Most Reliable
- Slower Turnaround Time
The exterior-only appraisal typically consists of the appraiser driving by your house and taking photos from the street.
There are no measurements, no interior inspection, and the appraiser generally does not get out of the car to look around.
While an exterior appraisal is not as detailed as a full appraisal, it still consists of an inspection, which the following desktop appraisal does not.
- More Accurate than Desktop Appraisal
- No interior inspection
- Less Accurate than Full Appraisal
- Relies More on Secondary Data
A desktop appraisal is performed at the appraiser’s office, hence the “Desktop” appraisal.
There is no inspection, and the appraiser has to rely solely on data they can find online or from secondary sources.
The desktop appraisal is the least detailed and least accurate of the three.
- Least Detailed
- Least Reliable
- Least Accurate
Best Use Cases
Hands down, the full appraisal is best in every situation.
That’s not because of the higher fee for the appraiser but because it is significantly more accurate than the others.
Imagine a house that looks nice on the outside but is gutted on the inside, or a house that exists on Google Stree View, but has since burned down.
Either case would result in a significantly overvalued appraisal.
But sometimes, the interior can’t be accessed due to it being tenant-occupied, or a desktop appraisal is all the lender needs.
At the end of the day, it is up to you, the appraiser, and the purpose of the appraisal.