4 ways to overcome appraisal roadblocks

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Appraisals have stymied many borrowers' attempts to purchase or refinance in recent years. A major problem due to the decline in home prices since the market peaked in 2006 is that properties haven't appraised high enough for the lender to grant the mortgage amount the borrower requested. Refinancers who bought during the peak years have had difficulty refinancing if their mortgage amount exceeded the appraised value of the property. The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) was designed to help people in this situation.Recent changes in the program will allow borrowers who qualify to refinance regardless of the loan-to-value ratio for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This makes the appraisal process less onerous. Not all lenders participate in HARP; it's not a mandatory program. Those that do should make the changes available to refinancers by December 2011. Borrowers applying for mortgages have run into other difficulties with appraisals, such ...