The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not require an inspection before buying a house. It does require an appraisal to determine the home’s market value. If you are refinancing your mortgage through the VA, no appraisal is required.
Inspections vs. Appraisals
Appraisals and inspections are not the same thing. An appraisal is an estimate of a house’s current market value. The VA requires an appraisal so it has an idea of how much to lend. The appraisal is not intended to tell buyers about the condition of the house. Appraisers will look for obviously necessary repairs, but they don’t check appliances, inspect the roof or the chimney, or conduct other tasks typically done during a home inspection. Inspections are for buyers, appraisals are for lenders.
Obtaining Appraisals and Inspections
Appraisals and inspections generally take place near the end of the home-buying process. You’ll first want to shop around for a lender that participates in the VA mortgage program. Be sure to compare rates and fees, as they vary from lender to lender. Once you’ve chosen a lender, you’ll have to prove that you have suitable credit and enough income to make mortgage payments. You’ll also need a certificate of eligibility, which most lenders can quickly help you obtain online. After you have a lender lined up, work with a real estate agent to find a home, and sign a purchase agreement.
The lender will order the appraisal once you have a signed purchase agreement. The appraiser must be licensed, but he is not a VA employee. Lenders cannot ask for a certain appraiser -- the VA assigns appraisals on a rotating basis.
You order the inspection and you pay for it. Your real estate agent can recommend an inspector.
Why Inspections Are a Good Idea
It's smart to have a home inspected before you buy, even if it isn’t required. A home inspector will check walls, windows, floors, appliances and more with a neutral eye as he walks you through the house.
The inspector’s job is not to advise you on whether to buy the house. His role is to make sure you know what you are buying. Inspectors often provide detailed written reports that list necessary and suggested repairs, as well as helpful maintenance tips.
Many purchase agreements make the sale contingent upon the home passing an inspection.
Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan
Veterans with VA-backed home loans might be able to save money by refinancing their mortgages at lower interest rates. The VA does not require an appraisal during refinancing, which it calls an interest rate reduction refinance loan. You do not have to refinance with the same lender -- shop around for the best terms you can find.
Dave Hendrickson has been writing and editing professionally since 1980. He has received awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, Virginia Press Association and Investigative Reporters and Editors. Hendrickson holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University.