The Two Types of Equipment Appraisals: Desktop vs. Site Visit

Do I need a desktop or an on-site equipment appraisal?

This is a question that should always be asked and discussed with the machinery & equipment appraiser you choose for your project. Bank policy and various government regulations may dictate which option you should choose, and there isn’t always a clear-cut answer. The equipment appraiser you choose for your project should be able to help guide you through the process.

What is the difference between the two?

Desktop Appraisals

The client/borrower is responsible for providing all necessary information for the appraisal such as make, model, serial number, hours, miles, condition, photos, etc. Desktop appraisals are very common, especially when the equipment is easily identifiable and verified, in transit or at multiple locations. Desktop appraisals will generally provide you with the same values as an on-site appraisal.


    • May speed up the appraisal process if the client has the necessary information readily available.
    • Typically less expensive than an on-site appraisal that requires time and travel for the inspection.
      Interruption at the facility is minimized.


    • The appraiser does not have the opportunity to verify the existence and details of the machinery & equipment, such as make, model, serial number, and condition, as well as any additional equipment that may need to be included in the report. Rather, the appraiser depends on the information provided by the client.
    • Depending on the amount and type of equipment, asking a client to gather the necessary information can be a timely undertaking.

Site Visit Appraisals

The equipment appraiser gathers the necessary data for the appraisal via on-site inspection.


    • A qualified inspector will view the equipment to verify it exists, view the condition, and gather all necessary data and photographs.
    • Equipment not listed on the original asset list may be located while on-site potentially increasing overall collateral value.
    • The inspector may be able to walk through the facility with the head mechanic and get a full understanding of the maintenance of each piece of machinery and equipment.
    • The inspector may be able to sit down with the owner, or other management, to review invoices or site plans/layouts that may otherwise not be readily available during a desktop report.


    • Due to confidentiality, some business owners may prefer not to have an on-site inspection (confidentiality is of the utmost importance anytime a site visit is performed).
    • Additional cost due to time and travel for the appraiser.
    • Additional time due to potential scheduling conflicts for site visit.
    • Equipment may be spread out at multiple locations (transportation equipment, mobile vending equipment, construction equipment).

Whether your project moves forward as a desktop appraisal or an on-site appraisal, it is important that the appraiser you choose has access to all of the necessary data to competently complete the report. Many factors that affect equipment value change over time (see the impact of maintenance and other factors on equipment useful life at Having a current detailed equipment list, as well as a machinery and equipment appraisal that is updated annually, is a good way to stay ahead of your collateral should the unfortunate liquidation scenario occur.

Feel free to contact our machinery & equipment appraisal team with any specific questions you may have about the site visit appraisals and desktop appraisals we provide.

Place an order for a business valuation or equipment appraisal at