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Published May 23, 2024
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Home Appraisal Basics for Canadian Home Buyers

An appraisal is a professional estimate of a home’s market value. It's a required step if you're getting a mortgage.

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A home appraisal is an estimate of a home’s market value. It is conducted by a licensed third-party professional. Expect to pay $300-$500 for this service.

Multiple factors are used to determine a home appraisal, including location, age of the home, and condition. Appraisals are conducted by licensed third-party professionals, called appraisers. Getting an appraisal is required if you want a mortgage. 

When you need a home appraisal

If you’re using a mortgage to buy a home, you’ll need an appraisal. Home appraisals take place after your bid has been accepted by the seller but before the mortgage has been finalized. 

Lenders use appraisal results to ensure that the house is worth the money they’re loaning. If you’re buying a home with cash or otherwise don’t need a mortgage, an appraisal isn’t required but may still be worth getting.

There are some situations outside of a home purchase in which you might need to hire a home appraiser, including:

  • Divorce proceedings.
  • Insurance claims.
  • Property tax appeals.
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What happens if the appraisal value is less than the sale price?

If the appraisal value comes in under the sale price, you can try:

  • Renegotiating with the seller.
  • Asking your lender if they will consider a second appraisal — which you’d likely pay for. 
  • Reapplying with another lender and hope that the second appraisal will give you a higher value.

There’s no guarantee that any of these will result in a higher appraisal amount. If you are unable to secure the mortgage you need, you may not be able to proceed with the purchase.

If you have extra savings available, you could make up the difference between the appraisal amount and the sale price with cash.

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Finding and hiring a home appraiser

Typically, the buyer pays for the appraisal, however, the lender finds and hires the appraiser; there’s nothing the buyer needs to arrange. In Canada, appraisals generally cost between $300 and $500, and are included in your closing costs.

The lender — not the buyer — is technically the appraiser’s client, so the appraisal report is sent to the lender. Buyers typically don’t receive copies of the appraisal, and some lenders may refuse to provide copies even if asked.

Things a home appraiser looks at

Home appraisers place a value on the overall property by evaluating individual features and details, including:

Interior

  • Square footage.
  • Number of bathrooms.
  • Number of bedrooms.
  • Updates vs remodels for kitchen and baths.
  • Foundation type.
  • Whether the basement is full or partial, finished or unfinished.
  • Crawl space and/or attic.
  • Materials used on walls, floors, and windows.
  • Appliances and amenities.

Exterior

  • Neighbourhood.
  • Lot size.
  • Type of driveway and car storage.

In addition to these factors, the appraiser will also consider the age of the home, the current condition it’s in and local housing market trends.

Home appraisal vs home inspection

A home appraisal determines the value of a property. A home inspection examines the physical structure of the home, from roof to foundation, to ensure that things are safe and in working order. The inspection can be done either before or after the appraisal.

Frequently asked questions about home appraisals

Who pays for the home appraisal?

Usually, the purchaser of the home will pay for the appraisal. Sometimes the lender will pick up the cost, but it may also hide that cost in the mortgage administration fees.

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