An Appraisal is a document that gives an estimate of a property’s fair market value, provided by an appraiser. Appraisers are trained to use existing, market data to do the home valuation. Consideration is given to the property, its location, amenities, and the current market values of similar properties which sold recently. Realtors usually provide a "CMA" which is a Current Market Assessment, however the lenders will still require an official appraisal in most cases.
An appraisal is an important and necessary step in the home purchase/refinance process. Most lenders will not lend on a property without an appraisal, and if they do then it will be on the purchase amount or appraised value, whichever is *lower*.
When might you need an appraisal? When you need to:
Hint! When you get ‘pre-approved’, remember, the property is unknown, so the lender also has to assess the property when making a lending decision, and this is done via an appraisal.
Hint! Lenders may have a list of approved appraisers that must be used, so don’t rush out and order an appraisal until you know if they are on the lender’s list. Payment for the appraisal may be added to your closing costs instead of due up-front, but check with your mortgage consultant to find out how it will be managed.
Appraisers use three common approaches when establishing the value of a given property:
Hint! If you are making an offer conditional upon obtaining financing, please allow enough time for an appraisal to be done. The appraisal is usually done after the lender has reviewed all your documentation and you have fulfilled as many of the requirements needed by the lender to approve your mortgage. In some cases, the lender may have access to a quick electronic appraisal, which speeds up the process. But otherwise, it will take a few days to order, executive, deliver and review the appraisal before the lender will tell you if you can have the money.
Hint! If you are re-financing your home, an appraisal may be necessary, but if you are just switching your mortgage balance, it may be less needed. Each case with each lender is unique, so be prepared and you won’t be surprised.
Hint! If you are buying an investment property, the lender will want to know the current rents if it is already occupied by a tenant, otherwise they will likely have an appraiser determine the market rents. Help the process go smoothly and have copies of any existing leases and tenancy agreements ready.