Blog Post

Sixty Minutes to a Better Home Appraisal Checklist

Posted by Brett Long

Business man pointing the text Checklist

In the home appraisal business, delivering a robust appraisal opinion is critical. Lenders, homebuyers, insurers and other stakeholders rely on this document to make decisions. Miss a single important step and the integrity of the entire appraisal may be called into question.

How and When to Use This Checklist Update Process

Here are three reasons to improve your home appraisal checklist:

  • Regulatory change. If your state or city recently changed housing regulations related to housing, safety or home appraisal, you will want to update your checklist accordingly.
  • An appraisal error. Did you miss something BIG on a recent home appraisal? If so, it is time to assess your processes and systems, including your home appraisal checklist.
  • Company expansion. Are you hiring new home appraisers hand over fist? In that case, your procedures and documentation may not be keeping up.


Use this process annually as a minimum requirement. If the above conditions apply to your company, you may need more frequent updates.

Phase 1: Research Ideas to Improve Your Home Appraisal Checklist

Planning and research form the foundation of the update process. Remember that you are going to use the checklist over and over again in the coming year. Any improvement you make to the process will save you time. With focus, the refresh process can be done in an hour. If you have a more complex business, the process may take longer.

1. Read the home appraisal checklist out loud (10 minutes)

This simple technique will help you to detect awkward language, abbreviations and other points that may trip up users in the field.

If this point takes less than 10 minutes, add the saved time to the research steps below.

2. Read negative comments from past clients (10 minutes)

Checklists are excellent tools for detecting and preventing mistakes. To keep your clients happy, take their complaints and comments seriously. The time budgeted for this step assumes you have organized files or a digital system to search.

Separate the comments into two categories: issues that can be fixed by a checklist and those that require another approach (e.g. complaints about rude behavior).

3. Brainstorm costly mistakes you have encountered in the past year (10 minutes)

For this step, open a blank Microsoft Word document and start to journal about mistakes you’ve seen and made in the past year. After all, some mistakes may not be noticed by clients.

Not sure where to begin? Think of situations where you had to go back to a house to double-check your work. That activity may suggest further reviews are needed.

4. Send 3 emails to peers asking for their tips (10 minutes)

So far, you have relied on your own files and memory to improve your checklist. That’s a good start. When it comes to home values, you can’t afford any blind spots in your procedures. Use the following email template to seek input on improving your checklist:

Subject: 2 questions about your home appraisal checklist


I’m reviewing my home appraisal checklist and looking for ways to improve it. I’m happy to share my revised checklist when I finish it. In the meantime, I have 2 quick questions for you:

1) What is the most important activity you check on every home appraisal?

2) Can you share a copy of your home appraisal checklist?


Tip: New professionals in the home appraisal business may not know many people in the industry. Don’t worry — everyone starts somewhere. To jumpstart your professional network, join an industry association like the American Society of Appraisers.

To give yourself time to receive responses from your network, we suggest waiting two business days before moving onto phase 2. After your break, finish the last two steps of the process.

Phase 2: Improve Your Checklist

5. Write changes on the checklist using Track Changes (10 minutes)

Copy and paste your home appraisal checklist into Microsoft Word. Using the Track Changes feature, you can easily make changes. Take the best ideas from steps 1-4 and put the changes into effect.

6. Send the revised document to a peer or employee for review (10 minutes)

Now that you have a revised checklist completed, it needs to be tested. Send the checklist to one other person in your company so they can use it on their next appraisal. Based on the feedback you receive, fine tune the checklist further.

Still Using Paper Checklists?

A paper checklist is better than nothing at all, but from a management standpoint, paper checklists and forms leave a lot to be desired. Paper is easy to lose and can be damaged or returned incomplete. Use digital forms to manage your forms and checklists. It’s the faster way to make sure your checklists are used each and every time.

Ready to take your appraisal checklist digital? Learn how to get started.

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