How Much Does a Home Appraisal Cost in Colorado?

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Whether you’re selling or buying a home in Colorado, you will likely be relying on an appraiser’s valuation to determine how much the property is worth. In this post, we’ll answer the question: How much is a home appraisal in Colorado?

We’ll also look at how the appraisal process works, what appraisers look for in Colorado, and who pays for the appraisal.

To give you expert insights on the price and process, we reached out to Colorado appraiser Connie Esbenson, who has more than 20 years of experience. In addition, we gathered real-world tips from Jason Daniels, a top-performing HomeLight Elite agent who works with more than 79% more single-family homes than other agents in his Colorado Springs market.

Read on for everything you need to know about getting an appraisal in Colorado.

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What is a home appraisal?

A home appraisal is a professional opinion of home value, assigned by a licensed and independent appraiser. Appraisers use a variety of methods to determine value, with the most common being a sales comparison approach. Simply put, they review other recently sold homes within a certain radius that have similar characteristics to the one being valued, using the sales price as a barometer, and making dollar adjustments based on competitive differences.

An appraisal can sometimes be confused with a home inspection, but as Daniels explains, it is very different. “Homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, often confuse the two, he says. “An appraiser looks at the basic standards of quality on the house and that it meets their guidelines, while a home inspection is more specific on condition of the home and potential repairs.”

How much does a home appraisal cost in Colorado?

The average cost of a home appraisal in Colorado runs between $350 and $505. But in Daniels’ Colorado Springs market, the cost can be as high as $800 to $1,000. A number of factors play a role in the final price, which we’ll look at in a moment. And who pays for it can potentially be negotiated.

“In Colorado, it’s customarily a buyer cost,” explains Daniels. “Depending on the market, however, if the seller is willing to pay some of the buyer’s closing costs, the appraisal can be added to that.” He adds that if a buyer is putting down a large down payment, such as more than 50% of the sales price, the lender may waive the appraisal requirement, which again depends on the loan program.

Colorado’s appraisal cost range is comparable to much of the country. Estimates for the national average home appraisal fee range from $313 to $500.

Now let’s look at the variables that can increase or decrease the cost of a home appraisal in Colorado.

What factors influence the cost of a home appraisal in Colorado?

Much like any service, the cost of a home appraisal is based on the amount of time it takes to complete the job, as well as basic supply and demand economics.

The time and effort it takes to complete an appraisal are mostly based on the size and complexity of the subject property. Some examples of complex properties include:

  • An acre lot in the middle of downtown Denver
  • A historic home in an area where there are no other historic homes
  • A brand new home built in an infill lot located in an older neighborhood
  • A home located in a very remote location

“If a house is in a very remote location, which is sometimes the case here in Colorado, and an appraiser has to drive a long distance to access it, they might sometimes charge more,” Daniels says. He adds that if, for any reason, you need a rush on an appraisal, the appraiser will often charge for that as well.

On the economic side of the equation, the busier appraisers are the more they can increase their fees, and vice versa. During the pandemic housing boom, for instance, appraisal fees were extraordinarily high, though there was a significant dip in housing demand in late 2022, the Colorado market has since leveled out to what is considered more of a historical average.

This is partly driven by the fact that Colorado continues to be one of the fastest-growing states in the country. The Centennial State’s population grew by 19.25% from 2010 to 2023, making it the sixth-fastest percentage rate of growth in the U.S. The state’s estimated growth rate for 2023 is 1.26%.

Other factors that can influence the cost of a home appraisal in Colorado include:

  • Urban vs. rural: Urban properties tend to be smaller and have more comp information readily available, which can make them faster and cheaper to appraise.
  • Property type: For example, a lakefront multi-family home can cost more to appraise than a single-family subdivision house.
  • Property features: A lake, pool, or home gym can add to the time and cost of appraising a property.
  • Extensive damage: While an appraiser is not a home inspector, they are trained to spot damage that can impact value.
  • Speed: Short deadlines and fast turnarounds can increase the cost of an appraisal if you opt to pay a rush fee.
  • Shortage of qualified appraisers: If there is a shortage of appraisers, you might offer a higher fee to ensure your home appraisal is conducted in a time frame that works for you.
  • Loan type: According to the Appraisal Institute, FHA loans have additional requirements that can add time, so the cost of the appraisal can be higher.

Esbenson says that in addition to these factors, competitive pricing can also play a role. Different appraisers charge various fees for their work.

“The variations in cost sometimes stem from the fact that the lender must order the appraisal through that third party in order to comply with the loan program,” she says. “For example, my fee might be $600, but the third party fee is an additional $200.”

Weighing these factors above can help you determine if your property will be on the high or low side of Colorado’s estimated home appraisal cost range.

Why is a home appraisal needed?

Home appraisals are typically needed when applying for a mortgage or refinancing an existing home loan. According to the Appraisal Institute, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers, data from the appraisal report is often used by financial institutions to confirm that the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio meets their underwriting guidelines.

Because the house typically serves as collateral for the loan, lenders want reassurance that the buyer isn’t over-borrowing.

“We also sometimes have a homeowner who is contemplating selling and wants to make sure they have the correct value when they price their home,” says Esbenson. These sellers will opt to order an appraisal of their home before listing, particularly if the house has unique features that impact the value of the property.

But in most cases, Esbenson says, “An appraisal is usually obtained because the lender requests one.” Getting a home valuation by an objective party helps reduce any chance of bias, and gives not only lenders but also buyers and sellers a clear indicator as to whether or not the purchase price of the home is aligned correctly with the actual value.

How does a home appraisal work?

When the offer has been accepted and the contract is in place, the lender will typically order the appraisal. The appraisal must be ordered through a third party known as an appraisal management company (AMC), another stopgap that ensures there is no bias in the appraiser used or the final valuation.

“At one time, lenders could hire appraisers directly,” says Daniels, “but now they must use a third party and the appraisers are pulled from a list. This keeps it nonbiased, although it does increase the appraisal fees.”

The process includes looking at properties nearby that recently sold, are under contract, or are currently on the market. The appraiser will also conduct an on-site visit, where they document the home’s square footage, curb appeal, upgrades, and overall property condition. They look for physical deficiencies, record details such as the type of foundation, roof, etc., and document the research and their reasoning for their final opinion of the home’s value using a Uniform Residential Appraisal Report.

»Learn more: What to Expect From a Home Appraisal

What do home appraisers look for in Colorado?

Depending on the loan program a buyer uses, home appraisers are required to look at a wide range of different aspects of the home.

“If you’re going through FHA for financing, they definitely have their own requirements,” says Esbenson. “You have to take extra care to look for potential problems like signs of water damage or a previous fire — anything that might affect the home’s structural integrity. This includes things like cracks in the walls, exterior foundation, and the condition of the roof.”

She adds that FHA also requires appraisers to look for chipping or peeling paint, and if the property was built prior to 1978, they have to include a comment about the possibility of lead-based paint. If there is an extreme amount of peeling paint, a separate inspection may be needed.

In addition to any specifics that the different loan programs require, appraisers review the home’s:

  • Total square footage
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Overall curb appeal
  • Amenities, such as mountain views or landscaping

Considerations are also taken for extras like fireplaces, whether or not a property has a two or three-car garage, and the complexity and quality of construction.

In addition, Esbenson says that part of her process will include driving around the neighborhood and seeing what it offers. “I look for positives, such as parks and green spaces, things for families, as well as negative impacts, such as are there commercial properties mixed in, freeway noise, or busy streets,” she explains.

»Learn more: What Appraisers Look For in a House

We advise our clients to keep receipts on any upgrades they do prior to selling their home, so we can accurately relay that information to the appraiser. Some really appreciate it, as it can help them complete the appraisal faster.
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    Jason Daniels
    Jason Daniels Real Estate Agent at Finch & Gable Real Estate
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What increases the appraised value of a home in Colorado?

Both Daniels and Esbenson agree that upgrades to a house can help improve the appraised value.

“Updated features, such as kitchens, are definitely a consideration,” says Esbenson. Daniels adds that the addition of a second or third bathroom can also increase value, so if a homeowner has room to do so, it might be a good idea — and an addition that adds square footage can also help bump up value.

Additionally, Daniels recommends that sellers keep records of any repairs or upgrades. “We advise our clients to keep receipts on any upgrades they do prior to selling their home, so we can accurately relay that information to the appraiser,” he says. “Some really appreciate it, as it can help them complete the appraisal faster.”

What negatively affects a home appraisal in Colorado?

According to Esbenson, one of the biggest negative impacts on a home’s value is deferred maintenance, which includes things like missing flooring, cracked windows, holes, or exposed wiring.

“If there are a lot of repairs needed, the lender will require us to add a ‘cost to cure’ attachment,” she says. “This specifies the approximate amount it would cost to fix the items.” This is another factor where the type of loan matters, as some programs will mandate that the seller must fix the items prior to closing, while others do not necessarily require it.

Buyers and sellers should also both understand the specific requirements that go with the loan program being used. “Depending on the type of loan, whether it’s conventional, FHA, or VA, the appraiser may have the seller address issues such as missing handrails, or anything that affects safety,” he says. “The seller needs to understand that this can cause delays.”

»Learn more: What Hurts a Home Appraisal? 16 Factors

How long does a home appraisal take?

Traditionally, an appraisal takes anywhere from seven to 10 days. “It depends on the cycle and how many appraisers are available,” says Daniels. “I’ve seen them backed up by three weeks, or able to complete the appraisal in as little as 48 hours. The market and how busy things are definitely can affect the timeline.”

He adds that if an appraiser is asked for a quicker turnaround, you need to make sure your lender will allow it, and expect additional costs for that service.

How do you find an appraiser in Colorado?

If you’re going through a lender, the short answer is, you typically don’t. Since Colorado requires all lenders to use appraisers via a third-party list, if a mortgage loan is involved, your lender will take care of ordering the appraisal for the property.

If you’re a seller looking for a pre-listing appraisal (more on that below!) or if you’re doing a cash transaction where one or both parties want the property appraised before closing, you’ve got a few options. You can start by talking to a reputable agent and getting referrals for appraisers, which can be a good way to find someone who is vetted and has a good reputation.

You can also find an appraiser by searching online. Sites such as appraisalinstitute.org, which can put you in touch with local appraisers, or appraisers.org, a non-profit run by the American Society of Appraisers, both offer information and tools that can help you find an appraiser in your area.

Should a seller consider a pre-listing appraisal?

Most of the time, a home’s pre-sale valuation will be determined by an agent CMA (comparative market analysis), which saves the seller the cost of paying for an appraisal. Your agent will look at current real estate market conditions for your area, and compare recently sold, similar homes, in order to determine the appropriate listing price for your home.

“We consider not only what’s recently sold, but also where the market is heading, which helps give a very good estimate on the home’s value,” Daniels says.

However, there are some circumstances where getting a pre-listing appraisal might be the better way to go. This includes properties that have unique features that are hard to value, such as houses with extras like a guest house or in-home theater, or homes that have more acreage than others in the area. Houses that are in communities with specific amenities may also benefit.

“I did a pre-listing appraisal for a couple who lived in a golf course community,” says Esbenson. “The property ended up appraising for $65,000 more than what they’d planned to list it for — money that would’ve been left on the table.”

Sellers should keep in mind that if they do get a pre-listing appraisal, a lender cannot use it in place of getting an appraisal for financing. A second appraisal will need to be ordered if the buyers are obtaining a loan for the purchase. But spending the money to get the most accurate valuation can be worth it.

“I think getting a pre-listing appraisal is huge,” says Esbenson. “This is what we spend our life doing, and an appraisal is going to give a very good indication of what a property can sell for.”

»Learn more: Should I Get an Appraisal Before Selling My House?

Can a current homeowner get a free home appraisal?

If you’re thinking about selling and want to get an idea of what your home is worth without getting a CMA or paying for a pre-listing appraisal, an online tool like HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator can be a good starting point.

Our automated valuation model (AVM) tool pairs your answers to a few questions about your home with public data and recent sales records for other properties in the same neighborhood. From there, we provide you with a free home value estimate in less than two minutes.

This can be very useful if you want a ballpark estimate of the home’s value. However, online estimates are not replacements for appraisals and won’t be accepted by a lender as an opinion of value.

»Learn more: How A Free Home Appraisal Works

Key takeaways for Colorado buyers and sellers

Whether you’re buying or selling a house in Colorado, a home appraisal is an important consideration, and is likely to be an integral part of the process. It not only provides lenders with an accurate valuation on the home, but can also set both buyers’ and sellers’ minds at ease when it comes to making sure they are getting the best price on the home.

And as a buyer or seller, making sure you choose an experienced Colorado agent is also important. HomeLight can connect you with a top agent in your area who understands the current market and can provide everything you need for a smooth transaction.