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Lenders require appraisals because they need to know that the property you want to buy is worth the asking price. So they will typically require a detailed appraisal called the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (URAR) that takes an in-depth look at the property's value. This six-page report will include basic information about the property like the square footage, the condition of the foundation and other areas, and any special distinguishing features. It will also include information about the surrounding neighborhood, comparisons to similar, nearby homes, and the conditions of the local real estate market, among many other details.
Sometimes only "Drive By Appraisals" or automated valuations are required, and these are less expensive as they are not as thorough.
The appraisal cost will vary based on the overall value of the home. An expensive property will require a higher appraisal fee than a more modest home.
Finally, the cost of your property appraisal will depend on the characteristics of the region. If the property is in a remote location or if your area has few available appraisers, you should expect to pay more for the service.
When there are multiple appraisers in your area, the best way to keep costs down is to shop around and get price quotes from several of them. However, often your mortgage lender will require you to use a certain appraiser and the contracted fee will simply be due when you submit your mortgage application. When this is the case, your lender should give you a good estimate of the costs beforehand. In the end, most people can expect to pay several hundred dollars for appraisal services.
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