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What is an appraisal waiver? (2023)

If your lender agrees, you can move forward without an official appraisal

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When you’ve found the home you love, you don’t want anything to slow you down, including the hurdle of an appraisal. The traditional process of getting a home appraised can be time-consuming and costly and even jeopardize your chances of securing the loan. In some cases, you can skip the home appraisal altogether through an appraisal waiver.

“An appraisal waiver is a feature that can speed up the homebuying process,” said Alex Shekhtman, CEO of LBC Mortgage, which lends in five states. “Instead of waiting for a formal evaluation of the house's value, you can choose to skip this step and move forward based on the listed price.”

Key insights

  • Appraisal waivers can save buyers hundreds of dollars.
  • In competitive real estate markets, appraisal waivers can give buyers a competitive edge. 
  • Without an independent appraisal, buyers may rely solely on the seller's asking price, potentially overpaying for a property.

How does an appraisal waiver work?

An appraisal waiver is an agreement between the buyer and the lender that allows you to forgo the traditional appraisal process. Instead of a professional appraiser visiting the property and determining its value, an appraisal waiver relies on automated methods to estimate the home's value. These methods often involve algorithms and databases of recent sales transactions and property characteristics.

If you are interested in an appraisal waiver, ask your lender about options.

The use of an appraisal waiver is typically determined by the lender and depends on various factors such as the loan type, the amount of down payment and the buyer’s creditworthiness. Lenders are more likely to do appraisal waivers on refinances versus new purchases, especially if you bought your home recently. According to Working RE Magazine, nearly 70% of loan and term refinances in 2020 had appraisal waivers.

Not all loan types allow appraisal waivers. For example, FHA loans and jumbo loans will still need a full in-person appraisal. In 2023, VA loans were granted the right for appraisal waivers or desktop waivers for certain properties to expedite the VA loan process.

» MORE: Low home appraisal: why it happens and how it can affect your refinance

Pros and cons of an appraisal waiver

Reviewer A. from Tennessee, who was able to get their home refinanced within three weeks, told ConsumerAffairs, “The appraisal waiver was one of the best things that I think we had during this refinance.”

While many buyers appreciate that appraisal waivers can speed up the process, they can come with risks.


  • Faster loan process: “Opting for an appraisal waiver can significantly expedite your home purchase,” said Shekhtman.
  • Saves money: Appraisals generally cost from $200 to $600, and the borrower usually pays. With an appraisal waiver, you'll avoid this fee.
  • Less stress: If a lender is willing to bypass the appraisal, it’s one less thing to worry about.


  • Overpaying risk: “Without an appraisal, you might rely solely on the seller's price,” said Shekhtman. “This increases the chances of overpaying if the price doesn't match the actual market value.”
  • Ineligibility for some loans: Some loan types, such as FHA and USDA loans, typically require a full appraisal, meaning appraisal waivers are not an option.
  • Not available to all borrowers: Not all borrowers qualify for an appraisal waiver. For instance, borrowers with a high loan-to-value ratio or less than stellar credit might not be eligible.

» MORE: What is an appraisal contingency?

How to get an appraisal waiver

Getting an appraisal waiver largely depends on your lender and the type of loan you're applying for. Here are the steps typically involved:

  • Find a lender that offers appraisal waivers: Not all lenders offer this option, so you'll need to find one that does. Lenders that work with Fannie Mae's or Freddie Mac's automated underwriting systems are more likely to offer appraisal waivers.
  • Apply for a mortgage: The appraisal waiver process typically begins when you apply for a mortgage. If you're eligible (you have a low loan-to-value ratio, a strong credit history and are buying a property in a market with a lot of available data), your lender may offer you an appraisal waiver after assessing your loan application.
  • Accept the waiver: If you're offered an appraisal waiver, you can choose to accept it and proceed without an appraisal. If you decide to use a traditional appraisal, you will need to pay for it upfront.

» MORE: How to prepare for a home appraisal for refinancing

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    Is an appraisal waiver the same as a home inspection?

    No, an appraisal and a home inspection are two different things. An appraisal determines the value of the property, while a home inspection looks for potential structural or mechanical issues with the home. You should not waive a home inspection.

    Can I still get an appraisal if I've been offered a waiver?

    Yes, even if you're offered an appraisal waiver, you can choose to proceed with an appraisal for your own peace of mind.

    What hurts a home appraisal?

    If a home is in poor condition or has unusual features that are not common in the area (for example, an in-ground pool in an area without pools), it can be hard for the appraiser to accurately assign a value to the home. Additionally, if there are not many comparable homes in your neighborhood that have sold, this can also hurt your appraisal.

    When does the buyer get an appraisal report?

    The buyer usually receives a copy of the appraisal report shortly after the lender receives it, about a week or two after the appraisal is completed. An appraisal report describes the home's condition, gives a detailed market analysis and states the appraised value.

    Bottom line

    Appraisal waivers can save you time and money, but it's important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding if it's right for you. An appraisal can provide valuable information about the home you want to buy, so you'll want to be sure you’re comfortable waiving it. If you have any questions, be sure to speak with your lender. It can help you determine if an appraisal waiver is right for you.

    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
    1. Working RE Magazine, “Massive Expansion of Appraisal Waivers.” Accessed Aug. 22, 2023.
    2. National Mortgage Professional, “Biden Signs New Law To Speed Or Waive Appraisals For VA Loans.” Accessed Aug. 22, 2023.
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