Decoding the wide variations in house appraisals

Source: Paul Sullivan, The New York Times

I RECENTLY decided to refinance a condominium my wife and I owned in Florida and quickly got caught up in the frustrating and often baffling world of real estate appraisals. The appraisal for the condo initially came in at exactly the dollar amount we needed to refinance it without putting up any more money — something I found fishy but did not question since it worked to our advantage. But a week later, the appraisal management company that had sent out the appraiser reviewed his valuation and revised it downward, determining that instead of 20 percent equity in the condo, we had only 10 percent.

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