What Are Appraisers Looking For During an FHA Appraisal Inspection?

This is one of the most common questions that I am asked by Realtors. FHA is concerned with the 3 S’s: Safety, Soundness, and Security.


Is the home safe to live in? Are there any health or habitability issues that would be dangerous? The two most common violations in my experience are evidence of mold and empty pools with no gates. If evidence of mold is noted (you know black spots all over the bathroom ceiling), this could be a health and safety issue that may require remediation.

An empty pool with no gate is by far the most common issue that comes up in Arizona. If someone can fall in the pool and hurt themselves this is a condition that will need to be addressed.

The most common ways to cure an empty pool condition are:

  • Fill the pool with water.
  • Fill the pool with dirt.
  • Cover the pool.
  • Put a temporary fence around the pool.

Other common safety issues are security bars over windows with no interior quick release and no smoke detector. Security bars must have an interior quick release if a room has only one exit. An example would be a bedroom. If there is a fire on the other side of the bedroom door, you would need to be able to escape through the bedroom window. If there were security bars with no interior release this would be extremely dangerous in that situation.

Here are some of the other most common:

  • Chipping or peeling paint in homes that were built before 1978.
  • Exposed electrical wiring, anywhere on the property.
  • Signs of termite infestation.
  • Exposed wood, is any wood that is not sealed and is exposed to the elements.


Soundness refers to the structure(s) of a property. Is the structure(s) sound, meaning free of potential collapse?

Soundness items do not necessarily require repair, but an Appraiser may require an inspection by a professional to determine if the home is sound. An example might be large cracks in the foundation or a split open or damaged roof.

In my experience, typically it’s the outbuildings on a property that are the most common structures that have “soundness,” issues. That storage shed is leaning at a 45-degree angle due to wood rot and water damage, etc. Some other examples of soundness issues:

  • Visible cracks in the foundation.
  • Bowed walls.
  • Patios, decks, and porches which are sagging or not built to code.
  • Additions that were not properly built.


Security issues are often confused with safety items discussed earlier. For FHA what security refers to, is in the context of marketability and the property’s ability to act as collateral for FHA insurance. Many of these may be external factors. Here are some common examples of security issues:

  • Home backs/sides a major freeway, or railroad.
  • The home is located on or near a landfill or hazardous waste site.
  • The home is near a sewage treatment plant or power plant.
Are there any factors that would keep the bank from selling your home if it is foreclosed on? This is the question that is being asked during the FHA inspection, in regards to “security.”