Whenever you get a loan a house, you're going to get an appraisal (usually.) The exception is when you do a loan with a very loan loan-to-value ratio, in which case some lenders allow an automated valuation model (AVM).
When you get the appraisal from your lender, file it away and keep it forever, because it has a lot of useful information that you might need later. Here are a few examples:
* the legal description - This is not all that useful, but once in a while you might need it for an insurer or for the tax office or something.
* TMK# - In Hawaii we don't use Assessor's Parcel numbers like the rest of the country, mainly because the government in Hawaii likes to make everything as confusing as possible for people not in Hawaii. The TMK (Tax Map Key) is used to identify your property for tax reasons, for Realtors, for various things.
* the MLS# of the listing - If you ever want to go back and find your old MLS listing, having the number will help. That also has a bunch of good information in it too.
* Tells the market condition at the time - might be interesting if you're trying to determine the market value of your home when you bought it. It might not be what you paid.
* Dimensions and size of the lot - Knowing the dimensions of your lot can be helpful when you're doing landscaping or planning a pool. Most people have no idea what their lot's dimensions are, including me. In Oahu, since lots are not square usually, the dimensions might be more than 2 numbers.
* Zoning information - there are so many different types of zoning in Oahu that will drive you completely crazy trying to remember them. The only thin you should definitely try and remember is the zoning of your home and what it means. If a dwelling is R5, it means you can have one dwelling per 5k sqft.
* FEMA Flood zone code - Since a lot of houses are in real bad flood zones in Hawaii, this is important too. Your home owner's insurance company will want to know what zone you're in before they give you flood insurance. Also if you live in a zone that is real bad, you should be more cautious about planning and preparing for a flood.
* Type of foundation - do you have a slab? is it post and pier? Sometimes this comes in handy.
* Year of your home's construction - Most people only know approximately what year their home was built, but there are certain things that depend on this, like the code at the time the house was built. If your home was built before 1976, you may have lead paint. If your home was built before 1980, you might have the wrong width on your studs.
* Actual square footage of your home - If you want to paint or carpet, you better know this number. The size of your home is going to determine the price of a lot of things, so commit this number to memory, or at least remember where you put your appraisal. The appraiser's measurement of your home is going to be more accurate than just about any other source you might have. Since our tax office in Honolulu moves at the speed of turtles on pavement, they may not have the correct square footage for several years after you do some remodeling or additions.
* Pictures of your home - The appraisal always has some pictures of your home, which can be useful if you want to see what the house looked like in the past.
* Sketch of the layout with dimensions - I like this one a lot. The appraiser will sketch the outside shape of your house and then give you the measurements of each outside wall. It's not a full layout like a floorplan would be, but it does give you an idea of your home's shape and size. Very useful for doing home improvement.
* Plat Map - The plat map shows the properties in your area, including any easements, roads, and other information that only a plat map can show.
So keep your appraisal handy in case you need any information about your home. After all, you paid about $500 for it!