If you're looking to close a refinancing deal in time to take advantage of a low rate, you're probably doing everything you can to take care of the paperwork quickly.
But if you're the owner of a multi-family home, you may have neglected to pay attention to another factor that can easily slow the completion of a needed appraisal: your tenants.
When appraisers complete an appraisal on a multi-family home, they must have full access. If there are rental units inside, an appraiser must be able to enter them at the time of the appraisal.
This means the home owner must make sure that the tenants will be available to give the appraiser access or that the homeowner must have a key and permission to enter. If the tenants are at work or will not open the door, the appraisal cannot complete the appraisal. Even if the apartments within a multi-family home are seemingly identical, the appraiser must still go inside of each one. He or she can't just fudge it, based on seeing a single unit.
The upshot: If you own a multi-family home, do some advance planning to make arrangements for tenants to provide access to the apartment at the time of the appraisal. Waiting until the appraiser has arrived at your house to start phoning the tenants is inconsiderate toward the appraiser--what if no one is home?--and it can push back the completion date of your appraisal. If you have problem tenants who are not cooperative about other matters, make sure to build in some extra time for reaching them and communicating about what the appraiser needs to do.
Your appraiser probably has appointments booked for tomorrow and the next day, so he or she may not be able to come back on your schedule. If you have to wait a few days for a return visit, that may affect whether you are able to lock in a rate on time.
Plan ahead and you'll have an edge.