The FHA has a number of appraisal inspection protocols which must be followed by FHA Appraisers. Agents and Sellers should be aware of these inspection protocols as they may affect the appraisal and upset settlement timelines. These protocols are intended to assure a level of due diligence that must be performed by the appraiser in order to property assess whether or not a property meets the Minimum Property Standards set forth by HUD/FHA.
The Head & Shoulders Test – this standard simply means that when inspecting attics, basements and crawl spaces an FHA appraiser must enter the space to “head and shoulders” level, at a minimum, to allow for a proper visual inspection.
Mechanicals & Plumbing – all of the homes mechanical systems and plumbing must be turned on and available to be tested by the appraiser. A representative sampling of switches, outlets and fixtures must be tested. The heater must be operational. If temperatures permit, cooling systems must be tested. Water pressure and temperature should also be tested.
If for some reason, the appraiser cannot access any of these spaces or complete any of the necessary system tests, the appraiser must contact the lender and reschedule another inspection of the property at such a time that property access can be made.
This is where Agents and Sellers have to be proactive. Make sure that these areas are readily and safely accessible to the appraiser. Have a ladder ready for the attic inspection if there are no drop stairs. Clear the access to the crawl space and have a light available to light up those dark corners. Remove any personal property that could block these areas from access and view. Make sure that all of the utilities are turned on and are ready to be tested.
These simple steps will save time and money. The FHA appraisal process will move more quickly without having to schedule unnecessary reinspection appointments; and the appraiser won’t have to charge a re-inspection fee.