Editor's note: This column originally appeared in Inman News in January 2004. New-home buyers know that an appraiser stands between them and a mortgage, but few appreciate the appraiser's central role in the mortgage underwriting process or what, exactly, the appraiser does. He or she assigns a value to your proposed new house, based on what buyers have paid for properties that are similar in age, size and location. This information is critical to the lender because he needs corroboration that the house is worth at least what he is lending to you. In the worst-case scenario–you default and he has to unload your house in a foreclosure sale–the lender wants assurance that he can get his money out. The lender turns to the appraiser for this information because he is an objective...
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