First and foremost, thank you Jacob, Jennifer, and Jason for taking the time to reply. This site is a great resource even for consumers such as myself who want to understand the process and keep up on rate movements.
I wanted to follow up here because the closing was today, and the appraisal was one thing in the packet. It was appalling, where to start:
* 1 of the comps was a CONDO with a shared wall (is such a thing really comparable to a single family home on its own lot?)
* 1 of the comps had the price on the appraisal that was $20,000 lower than MLS says
* Miscellanous things: fireplaces wrong, valued our screen porch at $0, said we have "neutral" view when we back up to a conservancy/pond and all other comps back up to other houses, forgot about our microwave, valued our hardwood and tile floors at $0 as compared to vinyl and laminate, etc.
Based on the wrong description of our neighborhood boundaries (coincidentally matching all the "comps") and other tidbits throughout, it's obvious that this appraiser took an appraisal he already did, for a house in that neighborhood -- 2.5 miles away -- and changed some but not all details to match ours.
As I understand things, my only recourse at this point would be to cancel the transaction with the credit union and try to refinance elsewhere. Does anyone know if I will get my "non refundable application fee" back if I do this? It's "only" $500, but it will give me the satisfaction of "reinforcing" to the loan officer that it wouldn't have been such a bad idea to let me see the appraisal before he declared it to be accurate.