Spacious Minimal Interior Surrounded By Floor To Ceiling Windows

The Appraisal Waiver: What Home Buyers Should Know

February 28, 2024 6-minute read

Author: Victoria Araj


The home appraisal is an important step during the home buying process. It’s a way to make sure that you’re not paying more for a home than what it’s worth.

The downside to an appraisal is that in-person options aren’t cheap, and home buyers are the ones who pay for them. An in-person appraisal can also slow down a home sale, especially if an appraiser determines that a home is worth less than what buyers have agreed to pay for it.

Because of this, some buyers might ask for an appraisal waiver, allowing them to purchase a home without an inspection by an appraiser. This option could save you money, but is it a smart move? It depends on how worried you are that you’ll overpay for your new home.

What Is An Appraisal Waiver?

An appraisal waiver shortens the appraisal process. Buyers who qualify for a waiver can skip the in-person appraiser visit. Instead, lenders will use data provided by an automated underwriting system to determine the value of the home being sold. This information will include prices from nearby home sales, also called real estate comps, and any past sales data from the home the buyer is purchasing.

A waiver can save home buyers both the cost of paying for an appraisal and the time involved in scheduling an in-person assessment.

The challenge is that not all buyers and homes will qualify for an appraisal waiver. And lenders are under no obligation to grant their buyers one. One of the reasons why an appraisal waiver can be denied is if the lender has any reason to believe that an in-person appraisal is needed. That gives lenders wide discretion in determining who qualifies for an appraisal waiver and who doesn’t.


Type of Loan

Home Description

Property Use

Your Credit Profile

When do you plan to purchase your home?

Do you have a second mortgage?

Are you a first time homebuyer?

Your email address () will be your Username.
Contains 1 Uppercase Letter
Contains 1 Lowercase Letter
Contains 1 Number
At Least 8 Characters Long
Go Back

If a sign-in page does not automatically pop up in a new tab, click here

Why Would A Lender Waive An Appraisal?

Lenders rely on in-person appraisals to protect themselves. They want to make sure they aren’t lending more money than what a home is worth. If they do lend too much money, they could face a bigger financial loss should buyers default on their loans.

If buyers stop making their mortgage payments, lenders can take ownership of their homes through the foreclosure process. They can then sell the homes to recoup their losses.

This is more difficult if lenders give the borrower more money than what a home is worth. Say they lent buyers $200,000 to purchase a home worth just $180,000. If those buyers stop making mortgage payments when they still owe $190,000 on the home, and the home is still worth $180,000, the lender will struggle to sell the home for more than what the borrowers owe. The lender would then most likely take a loss of about $10,000 on the sale.

Knowing this, why would a lender ever agree to an appraisal waiver? Well, there are two main reasons they would.

An Appraisal Is Not Needed

Sometimes lenders determine that an in-person appraisal is not needed. This might happen when a home was recently appraised. Say buyers purchased a home last year but need to sell it today. Lenders might waive a new in-person appraisal because the home’s market value was calculated so recently.

The same can be said for refinancing a home. If little time has passed since the original appraisal, a lender may be willing to waive the in-person appraisal when refinancing.

To Increase Efficiency

Waiving an in-person appraisal can make the underwriting process more efficient for both the borrowers and the lender. During the underwriting process, lenders verify that borrowers can afford their new monthly mortgage payments, check their credit reports, evaluate their credit scores and make sure that they’re not overpaying for their new home.

This process can take several days, and sometimes up to several weeks. Eliminating an in-person appraisal when it’s not needed can speed up this process and get a loan to the closing stage in less time.

Take the first step toward the right mortgage.

Apply online for expert recommendations with real interest rates and payments.

How To Get An Appraisal Waiver

Not all home buyers or properties qualify for an appraisal waiver. In general, though, buyers need to take out a home loan with lenders that use the automated underwriting systems run by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae (known as Desktop Originator) or Freddie Mac (known as Loan Prospector). The good news is that most lenders use these systems.

Appraisal Waiver Requirements

To learn about appraisal waiver requirements, ask your individual lender. To qualify, you will need a strong credit score. You will also need to be purchasing or refinancing a one-unit property, such as a single-family home or condominium.

Fannie Mae requires that the buyers of most homes come up with a down payment of 20% of the home's final purchase price to qualify for an appraisal waiver. However, there is an exception. Buyers who are purchasing homes in what the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) identifies as a high-needs rural area can qualify for an appraisal waiver even if they come up with a down payment as low as 3% of the home's purchase price. In this case, a mandatory home property inspection, which has a similar average cost as appraisals, would be required.

To learn more about this requirement and which parts of the country are considered high-needs rural areas, visit the FHFA’s interactive map.

What Are The Benefits Of Waiving An Appraisal?

An appraisal waiver does come with some benefits for buyers.

  • You can save money. An appraisal waiver will save buyers money. The costs of these home appraisal in-person visits vary, but they typically can run anywhere from $600 – $2,000.
  • You could have a quicker closing. An appraisal waiver can also reduce the amount of time it takes to close on a home. With an appraisal waiver, your closing won’t be held up while you wait for an appraiser to schedule a visit to the home you are buying.
  • You can save time. An appraisal waiver can save you time from having to schedule an in-person assessment and wait around for the home appraisal to be completed.

What To Consider Before Using An Appraisal Waiver

Appraisal waivers, though, also come with one big risk to buyers. Without an in-person home appraisal, buyers might overpay on a home.

It Could End Up Not Identifying Problems With The Home

An in-person appraiser can spot problems with a home that an automated appraisal might not uncover. Because of this, an in-person appraisal might value a home more accurately. This is key information for buyers.

An appraiser might determine that a home is worth $220,000 because of wear and tear, damaged appliances and a sagging foundation. An automated appraisal might not account for these problems and might value the same home at a higher $240,000. This could be a problem for buyers who skip the in-person appraisal and instead settle for the cheaper option of an appraisal waiver.

It Could Impact Selling In The Future

First, paying more for a home than what it is worth is always a bad deal. Second, when these buyers sell this home, they might struggle to make a solid profit. That’s because other buyers will have the home appraised after they make an offer.

If the appraisers valuing the home determine that it’s worth less than the listed sales price, many buyers will walk away. Others will request that the sellers lower their asking price to the appraised value. Sellers who owe too much on their mortgages might then take a loss on the sale.

It Could Impact Refinancing

Paying more than what a home is worth can also cause problems if you want to refinance your mortgage. Lenders typically require that owners have at least 20% equity – the difference between what they owe on their mortgages and what their homes are worth – in their homes before they’ll approve them for a refinance.

Lenders will often send appraisers out to determine the current market value of a home before they approve a refinance. This is unless they offer no-appraisal refinances to homeowners with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or U.S. Department Agriculture (USDA) loans. Buyers who paid more for their homes than what they are worth are less likely to have enough equity to qualify for a refinance, at least if they haven’t made enough monthly mortgage payments to significantly pay down their loan balances.

Skipping the in-person appraisal might save buyers some money upfront during the home purchase, but it could cost them big in the future.

The Bottom Line

might be tempting to skip the in-person appraisal when you’re buying a home, especially when you’re in dollar-saving mode. However, an appraisal is designed to protect buyers from overpaying for a home. Because of this, it rarely makes sense for buyers to skip that in-person appraisal.

If you’re ready to become a homeowner, get started on the mortgage process today.

Take the first step toward the right mortgage.

Apply online for expert recommendations with real interest rates and payments.

Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.