One common question about FHA home loan rules involves how long an appraisal is considered valid before it can no longer be used. FHA loan rules for this topic are found in HUD 4000.1 and address both the age of the appraisal as well as the age of other documentation not considered “evergreen” or without an expiration date (such as divorce decrees, military discharge paperwork, etc).
According to HUD 4000.1, in general terms the documents to be used for “…the origination and underwriting of a Mortgage may not be more than 120 Days old at the Disbursement Date. Documents whose validity for underwriting purposes is not affected by the passage of time, such as divorce decrees or tax returns, may be more than 120 Days old at the Disbursement Date.”
How does a lender calculate exactly how old a given document is? “Day one” of the document’s age is calculated as being “the Day after the effective or issue date of the document, whichever is later”.
How does this rule affect FHA appraisals?
Page 103 of HUD 4000.1 states, “The 120 Day validity period for an appraisal (see Ordering Appraisals) may be extended for 30 Days at the option of the Mortgagee if (1) the Mortgagee approved the Borrower or HUD issued the Firm Commitment before the expiration of the original appraisal; or (2) the Borrower signed a valid sales contract prior to the expiration date of the appraisal”.
FHA loan rules also instruct the lender that a new appraisal must be ordered for each new FHA case number. “The Mortgagee must order a new appraisal for each Mortgage or refinance case number assignment and may not reuse an appraisal that was performed under another case number, even if the prior appraisal is not yet more than 120 Days old.”
In situations where a borrower decides not to move forward with the loan with a particular lender but wants to purchase the home with another financial institution, FHA loan rules are clear on what must be done if an appraisal has been performed:
“In cases where a Borrower has switched Mortgagees, the first Mortgagee must, at the Borrowers request, transfer the appraisal to the second Mortgagee within five business days. The Appraiser is not required to provide the appraisal to the new Mortgagee. The client name on the appraisal does not need to reflect the new Mortgagee. If the original Mortgagee has not been reimbursed for the cost of the appraisal, the Mortgagee is not required to transfer the appraisal until it is reimbursed.” Note that this occurs only at the borrower’s request-such a transfer will not happen automatically.
And what about cases where an appraisal update is required? “An appraisal update must be performed before the initial appraisal, with no extension, has expired. Where the initial appraisal is subsequently updated, the updated appraisal is valid for a period of 240 Days after the effective date of the initial appraisal report that is being updated.”
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