Many people seem to be unaware that there are several report options for a single family residence, or SFR. The range from the desk review without inspection to the full URAR form 1004. Here are the options:
A BPO is a Broker Price Opinion and entails looking at recent comparable sales and active listings. It doesn't require a physical inspection and is usually done by gleaning data from the local Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. These can be completed by licensed or certified appraisers as well as real estate agents or brokers. These are the most inexpensive reports, but can be pretty inaccurate if the subject or comparable sales have a lot of differences. These generally not usable for loan purposes. The fee is around $50 to $75 or so.
A Drive-By appraisal (Form 2055) is a step above a BPO and requires a physical inspection of the exterior of the subject and the comparable sales from the street. There is no measurement of the improvements or verification of the interior condition. These can be suitable for certain types of loans and for tax purposes. The fee is around $175 to $250 or so.
The full residential appraisal, or URAR (Form 1004) is designed for loans and is the most thorough of the three. It includes a full interior and exterior inspection of the subject, measuring the the subject and verifying the gross living area (GLA), and inspecting the comparable sales and neighborhood from the street. A comparable form, the GPAR (General Purpose Appraisal Report) is designed for non-lending purposes, but is similar in scope of work. The normal fee is around $300-$400 for tract-homes, more for larger, complex, or custom homes.
So, the next time you ask for an appraisal, you might want to consider what you really need. You might be able to save a few dollars. Give me a call if you want more information. If you can get by with a cheaper appraisal, I'll let you know.