An appraisal is an independent assessment of the value of a property.
Often, appraisals are used by a lender to verify a borrower isn't paying too much (and thus owning less equity than required for the lender's underwriting guidelines).
In recent years, the appraisal process has changed considerably as a result of the housing crisis of 2008/2009. Today, an appraisal is ordered by the lender or mortgage broker via a central directory of appraisers (often called an Appraisal Management Company or AMC). Choosing a specific appraiser is not possible, but a mortgage broker can reject an appraiser and ask for a new one.
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