9 Ways to Prepare for a Home Appraisal

Cardinal Financial May 9, 2017 | 6 min read
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With a little effort, prepping for your home appraisal could really pay off.

As peak home buying and selling season takes off, homeowners across the country are preparing to put their homes up for sale. Sound like you? If so, you’ll want to get the best price possible for your home. That’s where a home appraisal can help.

What’s an appraisal?

An appraisal is an estimate of your home’s fair market value. It’s one part of a larger process that determines your home’s valuation. Depending on the loan program, an appraisal is required by a mortgage lender before they approve the loan to ensure that the loan amount is not more than the value of the property.

The appraisal is performed by an appraiser—typically a state-licensed professional and unbiased third party who is trained to give an expert opinion about property value. They take the home’s location, amenities, physical conditions, and more, into consideration when evaluating. The appraiser walks through the home and surveys the property, looking for issues that may affect the value.

Home Appraisal vs. Home Inspection

During this part of the property valuation, the appraiser also researches the recently sold comparable homes (or comps) in the area to help determine the value. The resulting appraisal report should help the home buyers who are interested in your home make an educated decision as to whether they should buy. If you want this to go in your favor, there are a few ways you can prepare for the visit from the appraiser.

Before the appraisal

1. Spruce it up

Before the appraisal, you might want to spruce up your home a little bit. Knock out the easy stuff first like touching up scuff marks and chipping paint. Then do bigger tasks like hanging new curtains and installing new faucets, doorknobs, and cabinet handles. Little updates like these can add a lot of visual appeal which will work in your favor during the appraisal. Outdated décor can negatively impact your home appraisal. But give your home a fresh, modern appearance and you’ll have a better chance at a higher appraisal.

2. Squeaky clean

Let’s face it, your home is due for a good deep cleaning—a visit from the appraiser is just a good excuse to get it done! It’ll take some elbow grease, but it’s worth it. Create a clean environment that will get you a higher appraisal and attract buyers. Wash the walls, dust the fan blades, shampoo the carpet, and shake out the rugs. Declutter the closets, the basement, and other clutter-prone spaces. Power wash your deck, driveway, and the home’s exterior walls. Need more tips for what to clean? We’ve got the perfect spring cleaning checklist for you.

3. Safety first

Your home’s safety is important to the appraiser (and the home buyer for that matter), so check and/or replace all your safety equipment. Test your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and security system (if you have one). If you don’t own a fire extinguisher, consider buying one and placing it under the kitchen sink. Replace anything that isn’t working properly before the appraiser comes. If your home’s safety standards are up to date, there’s a good chance you’ll increase your appraisal value.

If your home’s safety standards are up to date, there’s a good chance you’ll increase your appraisal value.

4. Groom the yard

Curb appeal matters in a home appraisal! Mow the lawn a day or two before the appraisal visit. Trim any unruly trees or shrubs. Make sure all pathways leading to and around your house are clear of obstacles. Put away any stray toys, bikes, or tools, and straighten the patio furniture. Plant some fresh flowers and pull the weeds from any flower beds. And a little fresh mulch in the flower beds and around the trees adds a nice touch too!
5 Fresh Spring Home Improvement Projects

5. Update fixtures and materials

There are countless DIY home improvement tutorials out there to help you get creative with your home interior updates. Give your home the modern treatment and update your countertops, remove old wallpaper, paint the kitchen cupboards, and replace old flooring. That old 70s wallpaper and linoleum flooring? They can really bring down the value of your home, even if they’re in good condition. Opt for modern textures and materials like subway tile, butcher block countertops, and shiplap. The more appealing your home is to today’s buyer, the more favorably it’ll be appraised.

6. Look past the perimeter

What’s beyond your property line? Think about what has happened to your neighborhood since the time you bought it. Have any new parks, schools, stores, or other public amenities been built? New roads or footpaths? How about community gardens, farmers markets, or co-ops? If your appraiser isn’t familiar with the area, tell them about these features because they can add more value to your home.

7. Do your research

Did you know the value of other homes in the area can impact the value of your own? Do some research and find out the value of the other homes in your neighborhood. Look for things like the sales prices of homes recently sold in your area and any problems during their appraisals. These are questions you may want to ask your neighbors (if you feel comfortable doing so) or you can find this information online. All this does is help you prepare for what your appraisal report might turn up.

The day of the appraisal

8. Be critical

When it comes to your appraisal, it’s OK to be critical. On the day of the appraisal, walk around your home and look closely. Did you miss anything? Is anything out of place? Chances are, there’s nothing glaring that could hurt your appraisal. You’ve put in a lot of work! Just take one last look around the house and make sure it’s ready for a closeup.

9. It’s OK to brag a little

When the appraiser comes, get ready to brag. Tell them about the improvements you’ve made. These things might not be so obvious to someone who’s visiting your home for the first time. So make sure they know all the work you’ve put into it. This can really work in your favor!

Are you getting ready for a home appraisal? If you’ve got any other tips, we’d love to hear them on social media!

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