You pay for an appraisal on a home when you buy a home or refinance your current mortgage. Contrary to popular belief, though, the home appraisal isn’t public record. The only people that know the value of the home are you, the lender, and the appraiser.
Home Appraisals Don’t Get Recorded
Unlike your mortgage or deed, home appraisals don’t get recorded by the county. Now, anyone can look up the assessed value of your home, but that’s not the same thing as the appraised value. The assessed value is the value the tax assessor uses to levy your taxes. It is not the same thing as the appraised value. Lenders won’t use that value and you won’t want them to since it’s typically lower than the appraised value.
Home Sellers Don’t Even Get the Appraisal
Shockingly enough, even the seller of the home you buy doesn’t receive a copy of the appraisal. Even though it is his or her home, you pay for it so it belongs to you. If the seller requests a copy and you agree to it, you must sign a statement giving the lender permission to share the appraisal with the seller. If you don’t, the seller will not receive a copy.
Appraisals Aren’t Shared by Lenders
Many people mistakenly think that lenders share appraisals when a loan falls through. That’s not the case. Each time a lender orders an appraisal, it is in that lender’s name. The appraiser does the appraisal for the lender and you – that’s it. If you switch lenders, you can request that the lender transfer the appraisal to the new lender, but they typically won’t do it. Lenders like to keep the appraisal as it keeps the borrower from switching lenders. If you do end up switching, you may have to pay for another appraisal.
FHA Appraisals are an Exception
There is one exception to the rule – FHA appraisals. Once a lender orders an appraisal on an FHA loan, the appraisal stays with that FHA case number for at least six months. This means if you switch lenders or someone else tries to buy the home, they must use the appraised value already assigned to the home.
Other Ways to Find an Appraised Value
So if you can’t get the appraised value from the appraisal, what other ways can you find out a property’s value? A few ways include:
- Talk to a real estate agent – Realtors have access to the recently sold properties, so they know what the values go for in the area. They can look at the features of the subject home and make an educated guess on the property’s value. Obviously, it won’t be as accurate as a true appraisal, but you’ll get a ballpark figure of the amount.
- Independent appraisal – You are always free to buy your own appraisal. If it’s your home, you can hire an independent appraiser to value your home for you. The appraiser should provide you with a similar report that your lender would receive, giving you all of the same information.
- Look at sales prices in the area – You may also look at sales prices in the area, as that is public record. Look at homes that are similar to yours in size, age, and features. You can take the average of a few homes that sold within the last six months and that are within a few blocks of your home to get an accurate value.
While home appraisals aren’t public record, there are other ways to get the information you need. Don’t confuse the assessed value with the appraised value, though as that will steer you in the wrong direction. Focus on the recently sold homes in the area if you can’t get the information you need from a professional. Know, however, that if you paid for an appraisal with a lender, you have access to the report once the loan closes, or beforehand, if the closing falls through. Talk with your lender about your options if need your appraised value.