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On Inspections and Appraisals

You know confusion looms large when Google offers more than three dozen pages on a search of this topic:

Appraisal vs. home inspection.

An appraisal determines how much a home is worth, which in turn will determine how much someone can borrow to purchase it. If a buyer needs a mortgage, an appraisal is inevitable.

“It’s an appraiser’s job to offer an unbiased opinion” on monetary value, said Bennie Waller, professor of finance and real estate at Longwood University near Richmond, Va. A home inspector issues an unbiased evaluation of condition.

An appraiser “doesn’t have to have training if the heat pump is working properly . . . [just know] if it will pass muster. But the home inspector will offer his opinion on [its] life span,” Waller said.

“The consumer wants justification to spend half a million. Is it a mess? Or is it a yes?” said Nick Gromicko, founder of InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, a training group. Typically, he said, the agreement of sale includes a threshold dollar amount for necessary repairs the seller will credit the buyer.

Consumers have vehicle-history services such as Carfax at their disposal to look up details about used cars they’re interested in buying. They don’t have similar recourse with previously owned homes.

A new tool that accompanies some listings on Realtor.com, offering information via agents and Porch.com, the find-me-a-professional-remodeler website, holds the possibility of becoming a similar resource for home buyers. But recent attempts to use the Porch Home and Neighborhood Report tool were unsuccessful.

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