In California, home appraisals are necessary and they are used to estimate the value of a property for purposes of purchase transactions, refinance, probate, or divorce. For purchases, the lenders want to ensure that the contact price matches the estimated value of the home. For lenders, this is essential because the home is the collateral for the mortgage.¹ Let’s look at an ideal home appraisal checklist for California.

Here Is the Home Appraisal Checklist To Consider in California

Appraisals are necessary and are among the last steps in the home purchase process. An appraisal happens after the seller accepts your offer or before the final approval when refinancing. 

1. What the Appraiser Reports

The appraiser mostly considers every aspect of the home including recent improvements that add value.


  • Measuring the size of the property because the size of a property is a huge determinant of its price. 


  • Checking for any home improvements and amenities such as gym, swimming pool, or interior improvements.


  • The interior of the home and the working conditions of the home equipment and appliances, the state of plumbing, and the electrical system. 


  • Examining the exterior condition such as the condition of the foundation, roof, and walls. The size of the front and backyards is also included. 

2. Type of Home Appraisals in California

The lender orders an appraisal on your behalf and it depends on the type of home. It could be a single-family, multi-family, condominium, manufactured home, etc.  Appraisals in California can be carried out in the following ways: 


  • Desk: This is an online home inspection/appraisal without a physical visit to the property. If you a lender considers you a strong borrower, from the credit perspective


  • Exterior-only: Appraisers do not need to inspect the interior or measure the property. They only need to inspect and photograph the front of the home.


  • Full inspection: This appraisal covers all aspects of the house. There is an interior and exterior inspection, photographs of both, and measuring the perimeter of the home to get the approximate size. 

3. You Can’t Choose Your Appraiser

Neither you nor the lender gets to choose an appraiser. After the 2008 house market crash, regulations were tightened. However, it’s the lender’s work to order for the appraisal through Appraisal Management Companies (AMC). The AMC then randomly selects a licensed appraiser for the work.  

4. Acceptable Comparable Sales

Sometimes you and the realtor can experience confusion about the comparable sales that the appraiser should or shouldn’t use. However, when comparing sales, things such as time of sale, location, size can’t be compromised.²

5. Appraisal Waivers In California

Some California homebuyers can sometimes enjoy appraisal waivers where the entire process is skipped altogether. The rules for waivers are quite strict and only Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae are currently for specific loans and properties.

California Home Appraisal Checklist

It may not be possible to change the entire face of your home overnight but you can take some steps to ensure the appraisal generates the result you want. You only need to ensure that the home is in its top condition during the inspection. 


“About Mountain West Financial and the CalPATH Home Loan Program

Mountain West Financial is the exclusive lender offering CalPATH, the #1 home loan program for Teachers, Police Officers, Firefighters, and other public employees who serve our local California communities.

You may contact our CalPATH Hotline @ 800-310-7577, seven days a week from (8:30 am to 8:00 pm). A CalPATH advisor will be standing by to answer (any & all) questions you may have about the home buying or refinance process.

We look forward to working with you soon!

Sincerely, Joe Moore – Branch Manager”


Links to External Sources:

  1. A Primer On Appraisals — And Why You Need One On Your New Home
  2. Appraisal and valuation