The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan guaranty program plays a crucial role in making housing affordable for veterans and their families. VA panel appraisers are an important part of this program. They are the licensed or certified appraisers who provide opinions of value for homes on which the VA guarantees the mortgages. Here’s an overview of VA appraisal requirements and how to become a VA appraiser.
Are you a current or prospective VA panel appraiser? Enroll in our 7-hour CE course, VA Appraisal Requirements and Guidelines.
VA appraisal requirements
If you’re interested in becoming a Veterans Affairs appraiser, you’ll need to learn about VA appraisal requirements and what these assignments entail. You may have questions like, “What obligations do appraisers have when performing a VA appraisal?” and “How is it different from performing a traditional appraisal?”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a specific set of minimum property requirements (MPRs) for the homes they back. As a VA appraiser, in addition to developing and reporting an opinion of value, you’ll also need to make sure the home meets the VA’s MPRs. These requirements revolve around safety, sanitation, and structural integrity. You’ll need to verify that the home has a working heating system, a safe electrical system, and safe water quality, to name a few examples.
How to become a VA appraiser
To complete a Veterans Affairs appraisal, you must be on the VA appraisal panel. State-licensed or state-certified real estate appraisers who meet the VA’s qualification requirements (below) may apply to be on the panel. However, you will only be able to apply when there is a need for VA appraisers in your local area.
There is no fee to apply or maintain membership on the VA panel.
VA appraiser qualification requirements1
- Five years of experience appraising residential properties
- Two or more letters of recommendation from fee appraisers
- No conflict of interest between the applicant’s employment and performance as a VA fee appraiser
- Not an employee of HUD, FNMA, FHLMC, or the Postal Service
You can access the full list of qualification requirements on the VA’s website.1 A list of counties that are currently accepting VA appraiser applications is also available on the VA’s website.2
How does the VA appraisal panel operate?
Here’s a breakdown of the VA appraisal panel and how it works, including information on how appraisers are selected for individual assignments, as well as VA appraisal fees and how much you can earn.
What is the VA appraisal panel?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appraisal panel is the group of professional property appraisers who perform VA appraisals. The panel consists of state-licensed or state-certified appraisers who have been approved to provide opinions of value for properties purchased with VA-backed home loans.
VA appraisal panel vs. FHA appraisal roster
Most residential appraisers are familiar with the FHA appraiser roster. It is important to note that the VA appraisal panel works very differently from the FHA appraisal roster.
As one example, the FHA roster is open to all qualifying appraisers. If you meet the FHA roster requirements, all you have to do is apply, and you will be added to the FHA roster.
Conversely, the VA panel is only opened up when the VA Regional Loan Center (RLC) has a need for appraisers in certain geographic areas. For example, there might be a need for appraisers in one city, and the VA will open up the panel and accept appraiser applicants from that city. But if you are from another city where there is not a perceived need for appraisers, the VA will not add new appraisers to the panel from that city.
VA appraiser selection
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not originate or underwrite individual loans, but the VA does select the appraiser who will complete the appraisal for each VA loan. It uses a rotation system to select appraisers to complete appraisals on VA loans in a certain geographic area.
For example, let’s say there are four VA panel appraisers in Anytown. They are:
- Jane Doe
- John Smith
- Mary Jones
- John Q. Public
If a VA appraisal assignment becomes available in Anytown, it will go to Jane Doe because her name is at the top of the list. After she receives the assignment, her name rotates to the bottom of the list, and the list now looks like this:
- John Smith
- Mary Jones
- John Q. Public
- Jane Doe
The next VA appraisal assignment in Anytown will go to John Smith, then his name will go to the bottom of the list, and so on. It’s a simple yet effective system, and it protects and maintains appraiser independence.
The VA differs significantly from the FHA when it comes to appraiser selection. For FHA, the lender (or the AMC working as an agent of the lender) is permitted to select the appraiser. For VA loans, the VA selects the appraiser, period. The originating lender has no input into who is selected to complete their appraisal.
VA appraisal fees
Another difference is that the VA sets appraisal fees. These are maximum allowable fees which are based on geographic areas. The fee schedule is available on the website of the VA Regional Loan Center (RLC) that has jurisdiction. This is in direct contrast to FHA, which does not set or establish fees. An appraiser may negotiate with the lender or AMC to establish an FHA appraisal fee that is agreeable to all parties; not so with VA.
The maximum allowable VA appraisal fees vary by county and are available on the VA’s website.2 The VA Lenders Handbook, Pamphlet 26-7, provides some additional information about appraisal fees.
Learn more about VA appraisal requirements
Want to learn more about VA appraisal requirements and how to become a VA appraiser? Enroll in our 7-hour continuing education course, VA Appraisal Requirements and Guidelines. Whether you’re a current VA panel appraiser or you’re considering applying to be on the VA panel, this course is for you. Learn all about the appraisal-related aspects of the VA loan guaranty program and the appraiser’s obligations when performing a VA appraisal. Enroll now.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Appraiser and Inspector Qualification Requirements. Available at https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/appraiser.asp.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA Appraisal Fee Schedules and Timeliness Requirements. http://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/appraiser_fee_schedule.asp.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on December 15, 2020 and updated in September 2023.