Appraisals and home inspections are both important parts of a real estate transaction. They both involve analyzing and assessing the property, and the providing a report based on the findings.
So what's the difference?
What They Find
In short: An appraisal estimates a home's value. A home inspection reports on the home's condition.
How They're Conducted
An appraiser may visit a home for a walk-through. But the appraiser relies on the home's specifications: its size, features and finishes (as well as other factors not related to the structure itself).
A home inspector's work is done almost entirely on the property. A home inspector thoroughly investigates the physical condition of the home and its systems, including HVAC, plumbing and electrical. The home inspector will take several hours visually investigating every corner of the property, inside and out.
What Factors They Consider
A home inspector is focused on the property itself and nothing else. A home inspection report simply lists various factors of the property and assesses their condition, with notes as to what may be wrong.
An appraiser is concerned with the home itself insofar as what it offers on paper: size, age, features and finishes. It matters to the appraisal that there is a record of the home having a pool, hurricane shutters, and 2,000 square feet under air. But the appraiser isn't diving too far into these stats.
What's more important to the appraiser is the home's location and the selling price of other similar properties nearby. An appraiser compares similar nearby properties to determine the estimated market value of the home, more or less regardless of the details of its condition.
Doesn't a Home's Condition Affect Its Value?
In the eyes of the buyer, absolutely. That's why a home inspection is so important. The home inspection report can be used to adjust your bid, or to request certain repairs prior to the sale. A home inspection is a valuable bargaining chip because it presents objective, unbiased information.