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Desktop Appraisal Report

What exactly is a Desktop Appraisal VS Full Appraisal?

As a real estate desktop appraisal professional, it is critical to remain current on industry developments and innovations. Desktop assessments are one such improvement that has gained prominence in recent years. These are a quick and inexpensive approach to get a property value estimate without the need for a full-fledged traditional assessment.

Homeowners, brokers, lenders, developers, and investors all prefer desktop assessments. They are utilized to offer a quick and easy assessment of property worth without the necessity for a full-fledged, traditional on-site evaluation. This is especially effective in circumstances where a typical assessment would be prohibitively expensive or if the property’s worth is already well-established.

Desktop appraisals, on the other hand, are not restricted appraisal reports and should not be mistaken with them. They are not utilized in the same manner that standard appraisals are, which are used to estimate the value of a property for mortgage or refinancing purposes. Instead, they are utilized as a simple and quick method for estimating property values.

As a real estate professional, I strongly advise you to consider desktop appraisals as a tool in your armory. They provide a speedy and cost-effective alternative to traditional on-site appraisals for getting property value estimates. It is also more convenient for the majority of transactions in the sector.

Lets start with the “Desktop Appraisal”.

It is critical to have a good understanding of the many sorts of appraisals offered in the business. The desktop appraisal is one example. A desktop appraisal, as the name implies, is a sort of validation that is completed solely from a desk, without the need for an on-site visit or physical examination. This implies that the appraiser is not required to conduct an interior or exterior inspection of the property, or to measure its dimensions. Instead, the appraiser is reliant on data obtained from third-party sources.

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Public Records, and Google Maps are the key data sources for a desktop appraisal. These resources offer a plethora of information on a property, including its location, size, age, and condition. Furthermore, websites such as may give zoning information, and most towns have an eTrakit portal where construction permits can be retrieved to identify whether or not work has been done on the property. This information, together with other data points such as local real estate market circumstances, can be used by the appraiser to estimate the property’s worth.

A desktop appraisal may only be performed by a licensed or certified appraiser. These are not restricted appraisals or Broker Price Opinions (BPOs), but rather comprehensive appraisal reports that can be utilized for a variety of purposes. Desktop appraisals are a more cost-effective and efficient approach to ascertain the market value of a property than traditional on-site appraisals.
However, it has a few drawbacks, including the inability to examine the property’s condition in person, the lack of consideration for any unique feature or characteristics of the property that may affect the value, and the property’s comparables, such as nearby or similar properties, which is an important part of the appraisal process, may not be as accurate as a traditional on-site appraisal. As a result, it is critical for a real estate expert to know the context of the appraisal and be able to determine the appropriate method of assessment that fits the need.

Desktop Appraisal Differences Scales
Desktop Appraisals vs. Desktop Valuations

Differences Between Desktop Appraisals and Desktop Valuations

As a real estate expert, it’s critical to comprehend the various terminologies used in the field. One such area of misunderstanding is the distinction between a desktop appraisal and a desktop valuation. Despite the fact that the two names are frequently used interchangeably, they relate to different  things.

A desktop valuation refers to the overall process of performing a desktop appraisal. It encompasses all the research and analysis that goes into determining a property’s value through the use of third-party resources such as MLS, public records, and Google Maps. The process also involves the use of other tools such as zoning websites, building permits, and local real estate market conditions to build a comprehensive understanding of the property.

A desktop appraisal refers specifically to the resulting report of the process, which provides an estimate of the property’s value, based on the data gathered from the various resources. Desktop appraisal report is written by a licensed or certified appraiser, it is a full appraisal report that can be used for various purposes such as a mortgage or refinance, tax, and estate planning or litigation.

In summary, a desktop valuation is the process of performing a desktop appraisal, and a desktop appraisal is the resulting report that is produced from that process. While it is common to use the two terms interchangeably, I prefer to use the term “desktop appraisal” to refer to the report, and “desktop valuation” to refer to the process.

Desktop Appraisals and Traditional Full Appraisal Differences

The desktop appraisal, which is performed without even leaving the office. This type of home appraisal can be an efficient and cost-effective way to determine the value of a property. It also has some important limitations that can affect its accuracy.

When compared to a traditional full appraisal, which involves an on-site inspection, measurement, and analysis of various property-specific factors, a desktop appraisal has the following key differences:


  • Data sources: Desktop appraisals rely on data available from third-party resources such as MLS, Public Records, and Google Maps. A traditional full appraisal, on the other hand, combines data from these sources with information gathered during an on-site inspection.
  • Inspection: A traditional full appraisal includes an interior and exterior inspection of the property, allowing the appraiser to see the condition of the property, assess any unique features, and identify any repairs or renovations that may have been done. A desktop appraisal does not include an inspection, and the appraiser is only able to rely on the data available to them.
  • Measuring: A traditional full appraisal includes measurement of the property, which allows the appraiser to determine the accurate square footage and layout of the property. A desktop appraisal does not include measurement and relies on the data available to them.
  • Local market conditions: A traditional full appraisal includes analysis of local market conditions, which allows the appraiser to determine how the property’s value compares to others in the area. A desktop appraisal relies on the data available to them and does not take into account the local market conditions.


Examples of when a desktop appraisal might be sufficient and accurate are:

  • Properties in planned communities, where all the homes are similar in design and condition.
  • Properties in average condition, with no recent upgrades.
  • Properties with a lot of data available online and plenty of similar comparable homes that have recently sold.

On the other hand, a traditional full appraisal might be necessary and more accurate for properties with:

  • Unique or custom-built properties, with distinct features and characteristics that are not reflected in online data sources.
  • Properties with insufficient or incorrect data available online.
  • Properties in need of repairs or renovations.
  • Properties in a rapidly changing market.

While desktop appraisals might be a more efficient and cost-effective alternative in some cases, they can also fall short of the accuracy found in traditional full appraisals. This is because a desktop appraiser may not have a complete grasp of the property without doing an inspection, and may overlook unique features or traits that might impact the value. As a real estate agent, you must understand when each form of assessment is suitable, as well as the limitations and benefits of each in order to deliver the greatest service to your customers.

The limitations and strengths of a desktop appraisal, compared to a full appraisal.

It is essential to have a solid understanding of the intricacies and differences that exist between the various sorts of appraisals. It is especially important to have a solid understanding of the distinctions that exist between a desktop appraisal and a more traditional full appraisal. Both forms of appraisals are used to ascertain the value of a property; however, there are significant distinctions between the two that can have an impact on the accuracy and use of the report that is produced. Both types of appraisals are employed.

A full appraisal is akin to a desktop appraisal in the sense that it includes research and the selecting of comparable examples. An in-person inspection of the property, on the other hand, is part of a full appraisal. This provides the appraiser with the chance to see the property in real time, obtain a honest picture of its current condition, and identify any complexities or unique features that may influence the value of the property. A desktop appraisal, on the other hand, does not include an on-site examination; rather, it is based only on the information obtained from outside sources.

In person inspection

An in-person inspection is absolutely necessary in order to obtain an accurate valuation of the property. For example, the appraiser will be able to easily determine whether or not the property has major deferred maintenance or expensive upgrades that have not been mentioned on third-party resources. This may be a significant aspect that has an impact on the value of the property; yet, it is not reflected in the data that is accessible online.

In conclusion, data obtained from third parties can be helpful in a variety of circumstances; but, a full appraisal offers additional benefits, such as an in-person inspection, that make it more exact and accurate in appraising a property. A thorough appraisal will show the real state of the property as well as any one-of-a-kind features or qualities that may impact the value, making it a more trustworthy and accurate method for appraising a property than a desktop analysis would be.

Appraisal Accuracy dart board with arrows

Accuracy and Appraisal Reliability

As a real estate appraiser with a lot of experience, I know how important it is for an appraisal to be correct. In the appraisal business, accuracy is the key to giving our clients, whether they are homeowners, brokers, lenders, developers, or investors, reliable and trustworthy estimates of the value of their property. The value of a property is a key piece of information for any real estate deal, and a wrong estimate can have serious consequences.

There are two common ways to find out how much a property is worth: desktop appraisals and full appraisals. Knowing the key differences between the two will help you decide which one is best for the situation at hand. As the name suggests, a desktop appraisal is an appraisal that takes place at an office without a physical inspection. In other words, the appraiser does not go to the property, measure it, or take pictures of it. Instead, the appraiser gets information about the property’s value from third-party sources like the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), public records, and Google Maps.

On the other hand!

A full appraisal is a more traditional and thorough way to figure out how much something is worth. An in-person inspection of the property is part of a full appraisal. This lets the appraiser see the property in real time, get a good idea of its current quality and condition, and figure out if it has any complicated features. This is important because a full appraisal lets the appraiser find any hidden or complicated features that might not be shown on Google Maps or mentioned in third-party resources. This can lead to a more accurate estimate of the property’s value.


But as technology improves and more data becomes available, the limitations of desktop appraisals are becoming less of a problem. There are now a lot of websites with real estate data, like Zillow. These websites get their data from accurate MLS listings, so it is not always necessary to have access to the local MLS. Online, you can easily find information from public records, and the whole property can be measured on Google Maps and seen in Google Street View. Google Maps also has a 3D feature that lets you “fly” around the property as if you were a drone. All of these help the appraisal process and the process of getting accurate data.

In the end, desktop appraisals can be a quick and inexpensive way to solve some problems, but they are not as accurate as full appraisals. And as a real estate professional, you need to know when each type of appraisal is best and what its strengths and weaknesses are so you can give your clients the best service possible.

Desktop Appraisal Benefits

As a seasoned home appraiser, I’ve found that desktop appraisals can be a useful tool in certain situations. While they may not be suitable for all properties or scenarios, they do offer certain benefits that are worth considering.

One key benefit of desktop appraisals is their cost-effectiveness. They are significantly cheaper than full appraisals, and the turnaround time is much faster. This makes them a great option for investors and private lenders who need a quick value estimate on a property.

Additionally, desktop appraisals can be useful for identifying general trends in a specific market or neighborhood. They can also be a great option for properties that are in standard condition, without any significant upgrades or customizations.

Of course, it’s worth noting that a desktop appraisal doesn’t include a physical inspection and as such, it may not provide as much detailed information as a full appraisal. Therefore, it’s important to understand the specific needs and requirements of your situation before deciding on whether to use a desktop appraisal or a full one.

In conclusion, for the right property, with the right data, and the right purpose, desktop appraisals can be a valuable, cost-effective tool. It’s all about understanding when it is most appropriate to use them, and how to best utilize the data they provide.

Desktop Report Negatives

Despite the advantages, there are certain limitations to consider when utilizing desktop appraisals.

One of the key limitations is the level of precision that can be achieved. As the appraiser does not visit the property, a certain degree of uncertainty is inherent in the results of a desktop appraisal.

This could be an issue for certain individuals or entities, such as lenders, who place a premium on accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the intended use of the appraisal and if the limitations of a desktop appraisal are acceptable for that particular situation

Desktop Appraisal Dollar bill puzzle

How Much is a Desktop Appraisal?

Desktop appraisals are typically regarded as the most cost-effective alternative for property valuation services.

The cost of a desktop appraisal might vary significantly based on geography and other variables. However, it is often far less expensive than a regular comprehensive evaluation.

Notably, the cost of a desktop appraisal can vary greatly based on the appraiser and the subject property. Some appraisers may charge as little as $300 for a desktop valuation, whilst others may charge $600 or more.
Before making a selection, it is advisable to obtain estimates from many appraisers in order to compare fees.

In conclusion.

Desktop appraisals are a useful tool for quickly and cost-effectively obtaining a property value estimate. They can be particularly useful for investors, private lenders, and anyone looking for a quick, low-cost appraisal. However, it’s important to note that the accuracy of a desktop appraisal can vary depending on the availability and reliability of data sources. Without a physical inspection, an appraiser must rely on third-party resources to evaluate the property which may result in certain inaccuracies or assumptions. Therefore, desktop appraisals may not be the best choice for all situations, for example, it’s not recommended for properties with complex attributes, or properties with a lack of similar comparables. In cases where a high degree of accuracy is needed, a full appraisal is still the best option.

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