How to Get a Cheap Appraisal

How to Get a Cheap Appraisal. Buying a home is often a costly, aggravating experience. You need a real estate agent and the sellers often have another real estate agent. At some point, you'll need to find an appraiser, a home inspector and mortgage and title company representatives. Everyone along the way takes a piece of the pie as your closing costs rise. One way to help alleviate some of the cost is to find a cheap appraisal. Take the following steps to keep your appraisal cost down.

Real Estate Buyers

Request the opportunity to provide your own appraiser when talking to lenders. While some banks require their own appraisers look at the property, others are more flexible. It never hurts to ask.

Call around to appraisers and ask for quotes. Quality appraisers will have a fee schedule they will openly disclose.

Ask friends, family and coworkers for references. You might receive a discount if you name-drop a little. An experienced real estate agent will likely know of a few appraisers as well.

Reach out to the Chamber of Commerce or a service club, like the Rotary. Appraisers that value word of mouth are likely to be members of one or both.

Ask your lender to let you to perform your own appraisal. There are a plethora of Web sites that offer do-it-yourself appraisals for $100 to $200, half the cost of traditional appraisals.

Avoid expensive walk-through appraisals if your bank permits a drive-by. If you have a market comparison and the bank is convinced it's a solid investment, a drive-by may be all you need.

Real Estate Sellers

Do it yourself. This is the least expensive option for appraisals and they are often free. Do a Web search for "online home appraisal" and start visiting links.

Stick with an appraiser, online or in person, that offers a market comparison of no less than three comparable properties in the area. Evaluated properties should have been sold within the last three years for accurate figures.

Solicit opinions from friends, family members and anyone who knows someone that just bought property. They might know of a great deal that you don't want to miss out on.

Call your local Chamber of Commerce and appraisal licensing boards and ask for references.

Let your fingers do the walking when all else fails. The phone book is going to be full of flashy ads and promises-seek out appraisers that list license numbers, qualifications and experience valuing your type of property.


  • Stay away from shysters that offer a lower appraisal for a fee. While a lower appraisal will artificially deflate the price of a property, it will backfire because as soon as you own it, you own a lower-valued piece of property. More importantly, it's against the law. Know what you'll get, when you'll get it and what it will cost. Specifically, how many comparisons will be done, how long you'll have to wait for the final report and the maximum charge for your square footage. Get it in writing, if you can. Steer clear of unlicensed or uninsured appraisers. Should you hire an unlicensed or uninsured professional and a dispute arises about the valued price of the property, you could find yourself in court. Understand exactly what you will be getting and a precise over/under price before an appraiser starts the job. Timelines can be important, so make sure you know when to expect the final report.