A few months ago, Fannie Mae introduced Property Inspection Waivers or PIWs. Recently, Fannie Mae rebranded them as Appraisal Waivers (AW?). (see www.fanniemae.com/singlefamily/property-inspection-waiver). These ‘waivers’ provide an option to forgo a traditional appraisal when getting a mortgage for certain refinance and purchase transactions in the guise of saving the consumer time and money associated with obtaining a mortgage.
Consumer (and agent), be warned, the bank or lender may use an AVM or other valuation tool to value the asset to be mortgaged. There will be no traditional appraisal. Without a traditional appraisal, prepared by a local area expert, you may not know what the true market value of the asset is, be it an SFR, townhome, condo or small apartment building, and you could be paying more than what it is actually worth. Another aspect of this scenario to consider is that when the consumer agrees to the PIW or AW he/she will be signing away the rights to any future litigation against Fannie Mae or the lender because they will be absolved from “future enforcement of representations and warranties on the value, condition, and marketability of the property” according to Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty. This does not protect the consumer or their agents rather it protects the lender.
The appraisal waiver will satisfy the lenders requirement criteria and may be supplemented with a valuation model of their selection but this will not provide the consumer (purchaser) with the peace of mind of knowing that the property purchased is worth the price paid or financed. I strongly recommend that if the bank does not require an appraisal that the consumer obtain their own appraisal so that they understand the true market value of the asset and that their best interests are protected. I also strongly recommend that the real estate agent specify a contingency based on a private appraisal to be performed. This will protect the consumer’s interest and the agent's position in the transaction and protect them from the confines of Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty.
The introduction of new valuation and loan methods employed by lenders and Fannie Mae presents the need for the consumer to ensure that their best interests are considered.