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Prepared by a qualified professional (an appraiser), it is an estimation of a property's fair market value.  Because tax records are often incorrect, and computers are unable to distinguish the condition and quality of a home, a professional appraiser is contracted to physically inspect the property.  In home purchase/refinance, this is done before loan approval to ensure that the mortgage loan amount is not more than the value of the property.   In other instances such as divorce settlement or estate settlement, it is done so that interested parties are able to properly value assets for distribution.

By Diane Tuman

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