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Archive for the tag “Veterans Administration”

Utilities are Not Required to be on for a VA Appraisal

VA Appraisals and Utilities Update:

According to VA Denver, the utilities, furnace, water heater, etc do not need to be on for a VA appraiser to complete the appraisal. Most lenders/underwriters, such as those at Wells Fargo and KeyBank, agree that they only require the property to meet VA guidelines, and do not have additional lending/underwriting layering. The appraiser is only required to note deficiencies if there is an obvious problem ie a red tagged furnace.

This is great news if you happen to be working with a VA buyer on the purchase of a foreclosed or short sale home, especially during the winter. Most banks and home owners of vacant properties can and will arrange for the utilities to be on for the purpose of a home inspection, for a brief period of time. Coordinating schedules between utility providers, de-winterization, and home inspectors is generally doable, but throwing an appraiser’s schedule in to the mix is generally not.

FHA appraisal guidelines are not as lenient. All utilities must be on and the furnace, water heater, etc must be demonstrably operational.

VA Appraiser’s Handbook

VA Appraisals and the “Reasonable Person” Theory

I have always been under the impression that the utilities must be on and the furnace, water heater, etc must be in operating condition when a VA appraiser appraises a home. Apparently, that isn’t the case. It is true for FHA appraisals, but not VA.

This morning, I received a telephone call from a VA appraiser to schedule an appointment to get in to one of my (approved) short sale listings. I told him that the home was vacant, but that the seller had made arrangements with the utility companies to have utilities all on the previous week, for the buyer’s home inspection and appraisal – with the lender’s coordination. As of now, except for the electricity, the utilities have been shut off again.

The appraiser informed me (much to my relief) that VA did not require that the utilities be on – only FHA appraisals have that condition. For VA, the appraisers operate under the “reasonable person” theory. The theory that a reasonable person, and prudent home buyer, would have a professional inspection to determine if the furnace, water heater, plumbing, etc were in proper working order.

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to find the VA documentation to confirm this. What is interesting is that I cannot locate anything that says that the utilities MUST be on, either. In search of a definitive answer, I’ve posted the question on the Appraisal Institute’s Facebook Page and also joined the Appraisers Forum.

Follow up to be posted. If you know the answer to this question, please post!

Research Documents:
VA Appraiser’s Handbook
VA Pamphlet 26-7 Revised: Lender’s Handbook
VA Pamphlet 26-7 Revised Chapter 12: Minimum Property Requirements (MPR)

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