A desktop appraisal is just what it sounds like — an appraisal that can be carried out from a desk. This allows an appraiser to evaluate a property remotely, because unlike a full appraisal, it does not involve visiting a property and making a physical inspection.
Instead of evaluating a property in person by taking measurements and photographs, an appraiser can piece together third-party data found online to carry out a valuation.
This requires using data from different sources in order to ascertain an accurate valuation of both the interior and exterior of the property. Some common sources for finding property data are MSL listings, tax records, and Google Maps.
So when should a desktop appraisal be chosen over a full appraisal? And are there any drawbacks?
When to Use a Desktop Appraisal
There are certain situations when a desktop appraisal can be more appropriate than a full appraisal. For example, a desktop appraisal can be suitable for tract housing that has many comparables and can be carried out remotely because of the abundance of readily available information on similar properties. Desktop appraisals are also best suited to houses in average condition and without significant upgrades.
The key part of a desktop appraisal is third-party data, so the more data there is available the more accurate the appraisal is likely to be. Properties for which a full appraisal would be more suitable are those in rural areas, in poor condition, or which have been upgraded to the extent that there are not enough comparables to create an accurate valuation.
Desktop Appraisals – Pros and Cons
As we have seen, desktop appraisals are convenient because they can be done remotely. They can be great if you want an appraisal done quickly because there is no physical inspection involved and therefore no need to travel to the property itself. Desktop appraisals also have the advantage of being much cheaper on average than full appraisals.
However, all of these benefits can sometimes come at price. The main issue that can arise with desktop appraisals is inaccuracy. Because the appraiser is not evaluating the property themselves, they must rely solely on data acquired from other sources which can lack precise details. This can make them somewhat limited compared to a full appraisal.
Desktop Appraisals Summary
Desktop appraisals are a faster and cheaper option for evaluating property. Although they can be restricted by the amount of data available, the abundance of data which can be found online makes it easier to determine an accurate value.