Sometimes it’s confusing to homebuyers when the topic of an appraisal comes up, particularly with the new federal rule as it relates to the home mortgage: will they receive a fair report, and what rights do they have to challenge their appraisals? Up until January 18th of this year, mortgage lenders were tight-fisted about appraisals and the process used to complete them; plus, they were never required to release any of the data they used to support the report. Now, lenders must not only tell the home buyer that can receive a free copy of the appraisal, but they also can have copies of other reviews, computer evaluations and all other data used to compute the final report. What’s more, the package must be received in a timely manner, and at least 3 days prior to closing; too, the lender has 3 days after he receives your mortgage loan application to apprise you of your “new rights.” By having access to all of the “electronic cross-checks,” including any reviews of your property, givers the buyer the backing needed if they want to challenge the appraisal. The new ruling affects only the first-position, or first-lien mortgage applications. If you are applying for a line of credit, say, or wanting to refinance, lenders are not required to comply with this mandate. Buyers can now challenge low appraisals that might have used comparables in another, unrelated neighborhood, or based their numbers on homes that were selling at depressed levels.