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Can FHA Loans Waive Appraisal?

For many homebuyers, obtaining an FHA loan is an attractive option due to their low down payment requirements and flexibility. However, FHA loans come with strict guidelines, including the requirement of an appraisal to determine the property’s value. 

While appraisals give the lender confidence they are not lending more than the home is worth, they also add time and costs to the mortgage process. This leads many borrowers to ask: can FHA loan waive appraisal?

Yes, FHA loans can waive appraisal under certain conditions. This is possible through the FHA’s Automated Underwriting System (AUS), which may offer an appraisal waiver if it determines the borrower is likely to repay the loan. However, waivers are more common for refinances than purchases and are not guaranteed. They also come with potential risks such as overpaying or missing property issues.

A person off-screen filling out an FHA loan form

In this article, we’ll explore when FHA appraisal waivers are possible, their requirements, benefits, and potential downsides. We’ll also provide tips on how to request a waiver and what to do if your home value comes in lower than expected. 

With the right information, you can determine if pursuing an FHA appraisal waiver makes sense for your home purchase.

Why Are Appraisals Required for FHA Loans?

FHA loans are government-backed mortgages aimed at making homeownership more accessible. Because the government insures these loans, they want to minimize risk. 

An independent appraisal provides a professional opinion on a home’s market value, which allows the lender to confirm the property is adequate collateralfor the loan. This helps prevent the government from losing money if the borrower defaults.

Beyond verifying collateral, FHA appraisals also ensure the property meets the agency’s minimum property standards. This includes requirements on:

  • Habitability 
  • Structural integrity
  • Mechanical systems

By mandating appraisals, the FHA reduces lending risk for itself and for borrowers alike.

Can You Get an FHA Loan Without an Appraisal?

The FHA does allow for appraisal waivers under certain circumstances. This is known as an “appraisal waiver” or “evaluation waiver.”

Appraisal waivers are available for some FHA loan applicants thanks to the FHA’s Automated Underwriting System (AUS). This system analyzes risk factors based on the borrower’s finances and eligibility. 

If the AUS determines you are very likely to repay the loan, it may offer an appraisal waiver. This allows you to skip the appraisal process altogether.

Appraisal waivers are more common for FHA refinances rather than purchases. The FHA is also more likely to waive appraisals for low-risk properties in stable real estate markets.

Rural areas with few comparable home sales are less likely to qualify for appraisal waivers. The lender needs an appraisal to estimate value when there is limited data.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to the AUS and lender. There is no guarantee of receiving an FHA appraisal waiver. Read this article to learn more about the possibilities of a lender appraisal waiver with other mortgage lenders.

What Are the Conditions for Waiving an FHA Loan Appraisal?

To qualify for an FHA appraisal waiver, you must meet the AUS requirements AND the following conditions:

  • Clean FHA case number – No prior FHA loans linked to your case number can have gone to claim.
  • Loan-to-value ratio of 90% or less – Your loan cannot exceed 90% of the home’s estimated value. 
  • Purchase price below FHA mortgage limits – Varies by county, typically $420,680 for single family homes.
  • Property in eligible geographic location – Cannot be in a declined market or rural area with sparse comps.
  • You meet all other FHA underwriting requirements – Good credit, income, and down payment funds.

The lender will verify you meet the above criteria before approving an appraisal waiver. 

What Are the Risks of Waiving an FHA Loan Appraisal?

While FHA appraisal waivers allow for a quicker, cheaper loan, they also come with some potential downsides:

  • Overpaying – Without an appraisal, you don’t have an objective opinion confirming the home’s value. This puts you at risk of overpaying.
  • Not meeting Property Standards – An appraisal would inspect for compliance with FHA minimum property requirements. Safety/soundness issues may be missed without one.
  • Inaccurate Estimates – The AUS system estimates value based on public data and algorithms. It doesn’t account for all variables or actually visit the property.
  • Limited Negotiation Leverage – Appraisals below purchase price allow you to re-negotiate. Waiving it could mean paying more than you need to.

While appraisal waivers serve as a nice perk for qualifying borrowers, they do involve some risk you’ll want to weigh.

How to Request a Waiver for an FHA Loan Appraisal

If you’re interested in pursuing a waiver, here are some tips:

  • Discuss with your lender – Let them know up front you’d like to try for a waiver to streamline the process. They will let you know if it’s possible.
  • Review your AUS findings – The underwriting system will indicate if you are eligible for an appraisal waiver. It’s not guaranteed, but a good sign.
  • Provide all requested docs – Supply prompt and complete information to your lender. This demonstrates you are low risk.
  • Ask about alternatives – If declined for a waiver, ask about alternative valuation options that don’t require a full appraisal.
  • Get inspector/appraisal ahead of time – These can satisfy the lender’s need to validate the property condition and estimate market value.

With preparation and open communication, you may be able to get approved for an appraisal waiver.

What Happens If Your Home Doesn’t Meet the FHA’s Minimum Property Standards?

If you successfully obtain an FHA appraisal waiver, there is still a chance your home will not meet the minimum property standards upon inspection. 

Without an appraisal, these issues can go undetected until you are under contract. If an FHA inspector finds deficiencies once you are in-process, there are a few potential outcomes:

  • Appraisal Required – The lender may call for a retroactive appraisal to establish property value and identify necessary repairs.
  • Terminate the Transaction – If issues cannot be resolved within your rate lock period, you may need to cancel with associated penalties.
  • Price Renegotiation – Large repair costs often require lowering the purchase price so the home still appraises for the needed loan amount.
  • Escrow Holdbacks – The lender may have repair items completed after closing using escrowed funds.
  • Repair Requirements – Even minor issues will need to be repaired before closing on an FHA loan.

Carefully consider these risks before opting for an appraisal waiver – an inspection is wise even if waiving the formal appraisal.

How Can You Prepare for an FHA Appraisal?

If you are unable to get an FHA appraisal waived, preparation is key for a smooth process:

  • Clean and Declutter – Make sure the home is clean and free of excess belongings that cramp spaces.
  • Make Minor Repairs – Fix any small flaws like cracked walls or leaky faucets. Get all systems and appliances in working order. 
  • Check Room Sizes – Review the appraiser’s requirements and ensure all spaces meet size guidelines.
  • Gather Records – Have permits, inspection reports, and receipts for renovations ready to share with the appraiser if needed.
  • Keep Pets Contained – Dogs should be secured off-site to avoid incidents. Notify appraiser of any cats on site.
  • Be Flexible on Timing – Appraisers work on tight schedules – expect a small window and be ready on short notice.

Proper pre-planning creates the best case for maximizing your home’s value.

What Should You Do If Your Home’s Value Comes in Lower Than Expected?

A low appraisal value presents challenges for securing an FHA loan. But you have options if this happens:

  • Review the Report – Look for errors or inappropriate comps that may have skewed the value. Offer additional data.
  • Appeal the Appraisal – Your lender can dispute the valuation and request a second opinion if warranted. 
  • Renegotiate the Sale Price – Ask the seller to lower the price to match the appraisal. 
  • Bring More to Closing – Make up the difference in cash if you have additional funds available.
  • Terminate the Deal – If needed, be ready to walk away and start the home search over. Get any earnest money back.
  • Act quickly once receiving the appraisal to exercise these options before losing your rate lock period.


FHA appraisal waivers allow eligible borrowers to avoid the cost and hassle of an appraiser visit. However, waivers come with risks of overpaying or not identifying property issues. Weigh the benefits against your specific deal to see if pursuing a waiver makes sense.

With proper preparation, you can set yourself up for appraisal success and navigate any valuation challenges. Work closely with your lender to understand all your options for maximizing the value of an FHA loan.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What happens if an appraisal comes in low with FHA?

If an appraisal comes in low on an FHA loan, the borrower and lender may need to renegotiate the terms of the loan or the borrower may need to provide additional funds to bring the loan up to the appraised value. If the borrower cannot provide additional funds, the loan may not be approved and the borrower may need to look for another loan option. In some cases, the FHA may agree to accept a lower appraised value, but this is not guaranteed.

Can a loan be approved without an appraisal?

Yes, a loan can be approved without an appraisal. This is known as a no-appraisal mortgage, and it is typically offered to borrowers who are refinancing their existing mortgage. No-appraisal mortgages can be beneficial as they save time and money for the borrower, as they do not require a professional appraisal.

Can a lender refuse to transfer an FHA appraisal?

Yes, a lender can refuse to transfer an FHA appraisal. This is because the appraisal is specific to the original lender and borrower and is not transferable to another lender or borrower. The FHA appraisal is a tool used to assess the value of a home and the lender’s decision to approve or deny a loan is based on the appraisal results.

What could cause an FHA appraisal to fail?

An FHA appraisal can fail if the appraiser finds issues with the condition of the home, such as safety hazards, structural problems, or other issues that may affect the home’s value. Additionally, if the appraised value of the home is lower than the purchase price, the appraisal may fail. Lastly, the appraisal may fail if the appraiser finds that the home does not meet all of the FHA’s minimum property standards.