A home appraisal report can be ordered by anyone; however, depending on the “intended use” the report may need to be ordered by specific persons to be utilized. A good example of this is mortgage lending: if your loan is to be sold on the secondary market to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or is an FHA loan then new federal guidelines require that the appraisal be ordered BY the lender and FROM an appraisal management company (a 3rd party company that acts as a firewall between the appraiser and the bank).
So do all mortgage appraisals need to be ordered by the lender? No. If your loan is being originated by a private lender that intends on holding the note or selling to a non-governmental organization, then you may still be able to order your own appraisal. Common examples would be smaller local banks and credit unions.
So what about non-lending related appraisals, who orders those? Well, that really depends on who is requesting and will be using the appraisal report. Something to keep in mind is that whomever orders the appraisal becomes the appraiser’s client, regardless of who pays or contacts the appraiser first. Furthermore, the appraiser is only allowed to discuss the appraisal assignment with his/her client – unless documented consent has been given to the appraiser to discuss with other parties.
So what does all this mean? In short, if you are getting an appraisal to be used for a purpose beyond just determining market value, you should ask the party that will be using the appraisal what exactly their rules are for ordering the appraisal. If at all possible, you want to be the one to order it because you will be listed as the client and have control over the report and any dissemination of data from the report.