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The Lifespan of an Appraisal

By Thomas Mitchell

Once you have an accepted an offer for your home, one of the crucial checkpoints afterward is when the appraisal is performed. An appraisal is a written estimate of a property's market value based on its current condition and features, in comparison to recent similar properties sold in the area. Appraisals are conducted by licensed property appraisers. It is usually scheduled shortly after an offer has been accepted, so that mortgage lenders can have an accurate value assessment of the subject home for lending purposes. Completing the sale of a home can take some time (usually 4-6 weeks), and you may wonder how long the appraisal is considered valid once compiled.

The length of your appraisal's life is dependent on the lender. After the housing market crash and subsequent fluctuation, the term of validity was shortened to 60-90 days by most lenders. 180 days is the most you will find. With an FHA loan the term of validity is 120 days. Lenders nowadays want the most accurate appraisal they can get based off of recent data on similar properties sold in the area. In a very active market, an appraisal can be rendered invalid in as little as one month. Lenders usually want to see similar sales to yours within the last 6 months to get as clear of a picture as possible on what your home is worth. Properties very similar to yours with little room for adjustment or highly sought after.

You may be able to get an extension on the life of your appraisal if you have a good reason or if the market will allow it. If the market has sped up or slowed down since you got your appraisal you can get your appraisal re-certified by having the appraiser do a re-assessment on the property and adjust it for any recent change in comp values. If there haven't been any recent changes to similar properties when you get your appraisal re-certified than the appraisal value will remain the same. The FHA will grant a 30 day extension on your appraisal, but only if the lender has been approved prior to the appraisal expiring, or if they sign a valid sale contract. The FHA will not however let you re-use an appraisal if the loan has already been closed.

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