What Is the Difference Between a Site Visit Appraisal and a Desktop Appraisal?

A site visit appraisal occurs if the equipment appraiser has visited the site, visually viewed the equipment, taken photographs of the equipment, and obtained information about the equipment during the site visit with an individual who candiscuss the equipment in detail. A desktop appraisal is a valuation performed without a site visit, relying instead on information about the equipment from the Client and someone at the facility who can discuss the equipment. A desktop appraisal is completed by the appraiser at their office desk.


The quality of both types of appraisals is the same. The desktop appraisal requires that the appraiser receive correct and complete information from the host company, but so does the site visit appraisal. Both types of appraisals require that the appraiser obtain a significant amount of information about each piece of equipment being appraised. Some of the information needed by the appraiser for each piece of equipment is the following:


  • Manufacturer (tag on equipment)
  • Model (tag on equipment)
  • Serial Number (tag on equipment)
  • Age (from the host)
  • Condition (from the host)
  • Hours / Mileage
  • Features (from the host)
  • Effective Age (from the host)
  • VIN Number (tag on equipment)
  • Photographs
  • Repair exceeding $2,500 during the last 2 – 5 years. Documentation must be provided.
  • Transportation and Installation costs. Documentation should be provided.

Site visits are required for appraisals in a number of situations. A site visit is always necessary if the appraisal has any possibility of being used in litigation, an IRS dispute, or a divorce situation. The SBA always requires site visits when appraising the value of collateral for a loan.


A desktop appraisal is often more economical as long as the information is being provided by the client in an organized and complete manner. Even though an appraiser does not physically view the assets to create a desktop appraisal report, someone still needs to gather and organize the information about the assets. It is just a question of whether the appraiser is collecting the information on each asset or if the client is doing so. The hurdle with the desktop equipment appraisal process is that appraisers still need enough detail on each and every appraised asset. An Equipment Certified Appraiser can perform a desktop appraisal only if the provided information for each piece of equipment is complete.

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