Prepare Your Home For an Appraisal
If you are in the market to sell your current home, or if you would like to take advantage of the market and get a better rate on your mortgage with a refinance, the property will first need appraising. Most people have questions about the process and what the appraiser will review when he/she arrives at the home. Most people feel a bit anxious about the appraisal since we all want our belongings to have more value than when we first purchased them.
Listed below are 9 steps you can take to prepare your home for an appraisal.
Get Everything Cleaned
This likely sounds obvious, so that is why we covered it first. First of all, a home that is clean on the outside, as well as the inside, gives off a good impression. It shows you have pride in homeownership and may deter the appraiser from being too picky on a small item.
Since one of the items on an appraisal is the overall condition of the home, it makes sense to get everything neat and organized before the appraiser comes to the home. Take time to clean the floors, windows, and baseboards of each room. Organize items as best as you can in the cabinets, pantry, and closets. Try to remove as much clutter as you can from the countertops in kitchens and bathrooms and overall in each room. An organized and neat home gives off a better feel to the appraiser and can help with the overall valuation.
Also, going through every inch of the home will give you the opportunity to find any possible problems. Perhaps there is a small leak under one of the faucets that you had not noticed or maybe there is a faulty electrical outlet. Spend the time to look through the entire home and make sure everything is in order before an appraiser comes to visit.
Be Accommodating to the Appraiser
Appraisers are professionals that have a job to do. They have schedules for their work and deadlines to meet. Making their job easier could make the appraisal lean more in your favor.
Answer the appraiser’s call, or at least return the message as quickly as you can. Try to meet the appraiser at the home based on the appraiser’s first suggested date if at all possible. Make sure the appraiser has an easy way to access all parts of the home such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces.
This does not mean that an appraiser will overlook or neglect any obvious repair that needs to be made. But it could help the appraiser give your home’s price a slight increase since the whole process was easy for them.
Ask Your Real Estate Agent to Be at the Appraisal
If you are hoping to sell your home soon, ask your real estate agent if they can be present for the appraiser’s visit. Since the agent is representing you for the sale of the home, their input can be valuable to the appraiser.
The agent can bring multiple comparable sales to the appraiser. Ideally, these comparable transactions will all be similar to your home in size, layout, and major features. This can be evidence to the appraiser of the home’s current value.
Also, the agent can point out any improvements made to your home within the last 2 or 3 years that may not be present in the comparable transactions. This can also boost the value of your property.
This extra information can help the appraiser make a true appraisal of your home’s proper worth.
Judge Your Home in $500 Increments
Appraisers deal in general terms. They may look through the home and see a few repairs that need to be made and consider it to be $500 worth of repairs. They may also look at neglected maintenance issues and deduct $500 for each needed repair. This can quickly add up to major deductions on your home.
For example, suppose the appraiser sees a few door hinges that are old and need replacing, or the door itself needs to be replaced. That immediately translates into a $500 reduction. Next, the appraiser may see that the air conditioner coils need cleaning or that the septic system needs to be pumped out. There goes another $500 deduction.
This goes back to the earlier comment about inspecting your home while you are cleaning. Taking care of all the minor repairs now can really save you money in the long run.
Clean Up the Outside
Making the yard look presentable is one of the cheapest ways to improve the home’s appearance and to increase the overall appeal of the home. Having a tidy yard clear of debris and clutter makes the place look inviting.
Take time to mow the grass, trim back the bushes, and get rid of any stray branches in the yard. This will also be a good time to clean out the gutters and wash all the exterior windows & doors. Giving the home a tidy, clean appearance on the outside sets the stage for how the appraiser will view the home.
While cleaning, look for any necessary repairs. Broken window panes, rotten trim, damaged shutters, and chipped paint should all be fixed before the appraisal.
Make Notes about the Home’s Neighborhood and Surrounding Community
Many things factor into the value of a home. An appraiser is relying on data that is easily available through real estate transactions, but not all the data is found in the sales of recent homes.
Simple things like the crime rate, school zones, and proximity to hospitals will be readily available. Certain neighborhoods are known to be places where homes hold their value over the years and the appraiser will take this into consideration.
But most places around the country are usually in some type of improvement decline. Certain areas of town are growing while other areas are experiencing a decline.
Simple things like new shopping areas, better road access to the neighborhood, a recent award won by the local school and a top-performing walk-in medical clinic will not show up in real estate reports. Take note of what is going on in your area so that you can highlight to the appraiser the benefit of choosing your home over someone else’s property.
Make General Improvements to the Landscape
Improving the curb appeal is always a good idea and can usually be done much cheaper than most other types of improvements. After getting the yard cleaned up, consider adding a few flowers to the front lawn or to the front porch if the yard is small. Add some fresh mulch around shrubs and flowers to give them a clean look. If you don’t have an edger, rent one and use it to set a nice edge around the driveway and walkway. You can also get some inexpensive solar lights to place along the walkways. These add a nice touch and provide attractive illumination that will set your home apart from the neighbors.
With a full weekend and a lot of work, the overall attractiveness of the home can be greatly improved and pull in more potential buyers.
Provide a Detailed List of Improvements
Owning a home is a constant flow of maintenance, repairs, and improvements. While the appraiser may get a good impression of the home, the appraiser will not be able to tell how recent any improvement was made nor the price of the work.
Keep receipts and contracts organized so that you may show everything to the appraiser in an orderly fashion. The following is a list of common items that an appraiser will use to judge the value of the home
- Changes to flooring such as adding new tile or hardwood
- Replaced roof
- New heating/air conditioning system
- Any significant plumbing repairs such as a new septic tank or sewer pump
- Any addition to the home such as adding a new room or adding a deck on the back yard
- Improvements on the land such as adding a pool or building a storage shed
- Major revisions such as a kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel or bedroom remodel
In general, anything that improves the functionality of the home or makes it more modern will improve the value of your property. By providing accurate records to the appraiser for any of these major improvements, the actual appraisal can reflect the work that has been completed over the last 2 or 3 years.
Get the Appraisal Sooner Rather than Later
In order to list your home for sale and get your agent to actively market the place, you will need to know the home’s true value. You will also want to know about any potential issues that need to be fixed now so that you can get to work on it.
Getting the appraisal scheduled and out of the way lets you focus on keeping the home clean and tidy for potential buyers rather than holding your breath and wondering what else you need to do to sell the home.
In contrast, waiting to get an appraisal after you have an offer could present issues. What if the home is valued less than you hoped? What if the home’s value meets your expectations, but there is a repair that needs to be made before closing on the sale? All of these kinds of issues can be avoided by scheduling the appraisal as soon as you can.
Closing Thoughts on Steps To Prepare Your Home For an Appraisal
It is much easier for the home seller to prepare for the appraisal when they know what to expect. The appraiser will be looking at the following items when they put together their report on your home.
- The exterior condition of your home and property
- The interior condition of your home, including the attic, basement, or crawl space
- The total square footage of the home
- The type of construction, such as stick-built or a modular design
- The local school district for your home
- The specific neighborhood for your home
- Value of the lot where your home is located
- Value of any recent improvements made to the home
- Distinguishing features that can either add to or take away from the value of your home.
This information, along with the comparable sales mentioned earlier, will form the bulk of the appraiser’s report on the home.
What if You are Not Prepared for the Appraisal?
Being unprepared for the appraisal can have a disastrous impact on your home’s overall value. The appraiser is the only person that will look at the home and determine how much it can be sold for. If you have not inspected the home and taken the time to address any issues, the appraiser could get a very negative impression of the home and determine the value much lower than you expected.
For example, suppose there are a few pieces of rotting trim around the eve of the house along with a broken window pane that you haven’t noticed. When the appraiser comes, they will see these issues and make notes about their impact on the home’s price. This could lead to a downward spiral for your home’s potential value.
If the appraiser considers this to be negligence, they might nick-pick other small issues, such as the cleanliness of the home or another maintenance item. This could lead to an overall negative condition report, which would drastically reduce the price of the home. And this is just one example.
Summing Up 9 Steps To Prepare Your Home For An Appraisal
This is why it is important for people to be serious about the appraisal and especially serious about getting the home cleaned and prepared.
Additional Appraisal Resources:
Who Hires The Appraiser by Michelle Gibson
Top Reasons Appraisals Come In Low by Bill Gassett
Reasons Your Home Did Not Appraise by Sharon Paxson
The Appraisal Process In Detail by Paul Sian
About the author: This article on “9 Steps To Prepare Your Home For An Appraisal” was written by Luke Skar of MadisonMortgageGuys.com. As the Social Media Strategist, his role is to provide original content for all of their social media profiles as well as generating new leads from his website.
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