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Appraising Residential properties:
Who needs an appraisal?
Why do you need an appraisal?
What should an appraisal cost?
Who pays for an appraisal?
Who does the appraisal belong to?
Why did my appraiser tell me that they could not discuss the appraisal on my house with me?
All really good questions, but what you really want is answers, correct? So lets get to it;
Who needs an appraisal? Anyone involved in a real estate transaction should get or review an appraisal before making any final decisions. 
For example lets say you are interested in selling your home; you can count on a Realtors CMA or BPO, which are limited versions of a property analysis done by those who are usually less qualified to ascertain the value of a property.  However they may be very familiar with the area and have a good understanding of properties in the area. These versions are typically done just looking at a very small piece of the market and rarely will be as complete as I would want when making a big financial decision.  Buyers and Sellers need appraisals for confidence and peace of mind.
Will it be faster and cheaper to let my Real Estate Broker to do one of these methods, yes, however you will want to understand the qualifications they have to be able to accurately perform these estimates. Is a 30 minute class enough education for you and your investment? There is a reason your lender will not accept these methods. Be sure to get all the facts.
I'm not trying to pick on Realtors as I am one of them as well. I am just saying I have spent a great deal of time learning, preparing and performing appraisals for all types of clients, and as a Realtor never more than a few minutes as a side note in a real Estate class class. The right tool for the right job...
If you are a buyer; First let me say this, the person who's name is on the sign in the yard represents the seller. This is not a game, this is your investment. I am a Realtor with more than 20 years experience and I still hire my own representative when I am buying personal property. (sorry this is my little pet peeve).
As it relates to an appraisal, the buyer really wants to know what the appraised value is. The property you are buying is an investment. Now I know its your castle, your safe place, your home place, but it is still an investment. Not only do you want to be certain that you are not paying too much, you want to know that if you take care of it, that your investment will grow and yield you growth or a profit. My Grandfather used to tell me my 5th house should be free!
Please hire your own broker, you would not go into a boxing match without some help in your corner, you wouldn't go to court with out your attorney, this is right up there with those. The only winner when you try to do it yourself is the seller. And get an appraisal, I might even go so far as to say hire your own appraisal. Get the facts for yourself.... Knowledge is power, Don't you agree?
What is the cost of an appraisal? Well that depends on why you are having it appraised and who will be relying on it. Some organizations have set published appraisal fee's however most appraisers bid for their work and therefore have to be competitive to get the work assignments. Although if you are seeking a mortgage your lender will require for you to have an appraisal, and typically from someone on their approved list. However the appraisal when ordered for a lender or mortgage is the property of the lender and not the buyer. Now I know you say but wait a minute, I paid for that its mine! But the deal you made when applying for the loan was that you would allow for it to be appraised and you would pay that cost. It therefore is the property of the lender, however most lenders will allow you to have a copy once the fee has been paid or the loan has closed.
As a buyer the appraisal should not be something that upsets you. The appraisal by design protects the lender from taking too much risk with what will be their collateral, but again you do not want to over pay either...
In conclusion we would like to say that we will always ask a fair and competitive fee for our work and will guarantee the quality of the work. So please feel free to call or come by and speak with us anytime you feel you may need or think you may need an appraisal.
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