Are Egress Windows Required in Basements for FHA Appraisals

I get the question all the time, “Do I have to have egress windows in my basement if I am getting an FHA loan?”  The answer is not a simple Yes or No, but it is also not as complex as some make it out to be. Basically, it depends on how much you want the basement to contribute to the value of the home.

If you want the appraiser to count the basement area as livable space, you will need to have at least two ingress/egress points.  This can be two sets of stairs, a stairway to the main level as well as a walkout door, or a stairway and at least one egress window.

If you want a room to be counted as a bedroom it must have an egress window.  What is an egress window you ask?  Here are the requirements from HUD:

Egress Window

  • “The windowsill may not be higher than 44 inches from the floor.
  • The windowsill must have a net clear opening (width x height) of at least 24 inches by 36 inches.
  • The window should be at ground level; however, compensating factors may allow less.

In all cases, use reasonable care and judgment. If these standards are not substantially met, the basement area cannot be counted as habitable space.”

 

There you go.  If you do not have two ingress/egress points, the FHA appraiser may not count the basement as habitable space (thus there is likely not much value there).  Putting an egress window in is usually not that expensive.  The cost to do so is likely less than the value you will lose by not having one.

Should the Home Owner Accompany the Appraiser on the Inspection?

The doorbell rings.  On the front porch stands the appraiser you were expecting.  She explains that she will first measure the home from the exterior and then will need to walk through each room on the inside.  The questions in your mind are: What do you want me to do? Do you need help? Should I go with you?  These are all great questions, and the answer is: it depends.Viewing Property

Appraisers are used to doing things on their own.  A fair number of homes we inspect are vacant, so our tools are set up for solo use.  Everyone at our firm has a laser measuring device so there is not even a ‘dumb end’ of the tape to hold.  In other words, we appreciate the offer for help, but it is not usually needed.

On the other hand, it is nice to have someone with us who knows more about the house than we do.  Pointing out updates and features that are not readily seen can be helpful to the appraiser.

Every appraiser has a personal preference when it comes to home owner participation.  Some of us like to have them in tow and others would prefer to focus on the task at hand without interruption.  It is simply a matter of preference.  However, it is not really about our opinion when it comes to this matter.  It is more about you.

Having a stranger walk through your home can be an intimidating experience.  Some desire to accompany the appraiser and others would rather the appraiser just do it alone.  At Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, we want you to do whatever feels best to you.  There are pros and cons to both.  In the end, it is your home.  You are in charge.