What are appraisals and why do I need to look at them?

An appraisal is a written document that shows an opinion of how much a property is worth. The appraisal gives you useful information about the property. It describes what makes it valuable and may show how it compares to other properties in the neighborhood. An appraisal helps assure you and your lender that the value of the property is based on facts, not just the seller’s opinion.

When you borrow money to buy or refinance a home, your lender may need to get a new appraisal and may require you to pay for it. Your lender may also use other ways to check the value of the home. For a typical home loan (that is, a loan secured by a first mortgage on your residential real estate), you are entitled to receive a copy of appraisals and opinions of value your lender gets. You should receive them soon after they are delivered to the lender in complete form—no later than three days before closing.

You can’t be charged a fee for copies of an appraisal or other valuation. But you can be charged a reasonable fee for the lender’s cost of preparing the appraisal or other valuation.

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