10 Tips to Prepare for a Home Appraisal
What is a home appraisal?
A home appraisal is an unbiased report on the value of your home, performed by a trained and licensed individual. Appraisals are an essential part of the home financing process, ensuring the homebuyer, seller, and mortgage lender each have an impartial, consistent, and accurate assessment of the value of the property under consideration.
In light of that, here’s some appraisal tips.
1. Clean Up Your Yard for Curb Appeal
Walk out front and look at your home with fresh eyes. Are there weeds in the yard or driveway? Are there children’s toys or other clutter on the lawn? These are all minor issues you can take care of rather quickly.
Tidying up can help improve the value of your home and can help make it appear larger.
Create a home appraisal checklist in the weeks leading up to your appointment. Then do a few projects or repeat some tasks each week.
Leading up to your home appraisal, consider watering your outdoor plants a bit more. Don’t have time for that? Then maybe adding a few new plants in pots or the ground can bring some new life to your home’s exterior.
Be sure to check for any chipping paint that you could touch up if you have the supplies. Cleaning your windows’ exterior can make a difference, as well as sweeping or hosing down any sidewalks or driveways is a great added touch.
Keep some of these minor touch-ups in mind for the interior of your home too. And remember: a decluttered and clean home will feel more expensive.
2. Make the Appraiser’s Visit a Pleasant One
Make sure the appraiser feels comfortable. Is it a hot or cold day? Make sure to set your air conditioning or heater to a comfortable temperature. Even turning on some fans can make a difference.
While candles are nice, be wary since everyone prefers different scents and some have allergies. Perhaps light a candle or two and make sure to blow it out an hour or two before your appraiser arrives so the scent is more subtle.
If you have pets, make sure to leash them or see if a friend can watch them for a few hours.
Don’t go over the top, but doing the simple things, like the above, will make them feel more comfortable.
The home appraisal process doesn’t have a hard rule on how much a home’s price increases or decreases in value.
However, appraisers often measure home value in $500 increments. If your home needs some relativity-minor repairs, they’ll hurt your appraisal. Fix or replace all non-functioning door latches or handles, torn window screens, and even worn-out carpet. Also, make sure basic plumbing and light fixtures function correctly.
While appraisers don’t fully inspect plumping, they’ll note if there are issues found during their visit.
Think of it this way: If you spend around $500 or less to do some of these simple fixes, it increases the value of your home because a well-maintained home holds more worth. Possibly even more than the amount you spent.
4. Double Check the Basics
Having lights, doors, or windows not working can affect your home’s effective age. Basically, if elements in your home are in disrepair, their perceived age will be higher. Then it’s put into a category with older homes and loses value.
It’s much better to have your home grouped with newer homes as the value will increase.
Think of these small repairs as the tipping point. If the appraiser sees lights or doors not functioning properly, they may wonder if the homeowner has kept up with larger home repairs.
5. Keep a List of Repairs and Upgrades
Organizing a list of repairs and upgrades is something you should do whether you’re thinking about an appraisal or not – you can point them out, along with any other special features of your home, to the appraiser.
Enclosed garages, fireplaces, pools, and things of the like increase the value of a home.
Plus, by showing the appraiser your list of repairs, it makes it easy for them to see the time and care you’ve put into your home.
Check this list for common repairs such as:
Functioning Door Bell
Replace Bathroom Caulk
Dripping Pipe or Faucet
6. Safety Equipment is Installed and Working
Make sure to check your safety devices. Like the batteries in your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, or home security alarm.
Remember to check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher, too.
7. Change What Will Add the Most Value
The kitchen and bathroom hold the biggest opportunity for return on investment.
In a study sponsored by the National Association of Realtors, G. Stacy Sirmans reviewed 150 variables that affect home value. The Professor of real estate at Florida State University discovered that the kitchen and bathroom held the most weight toward a higher home value.
Some other elements that greatly increased the home’s worth are wood floors, landscaping, and an enclosed garage.
8. Basement vs. Attic – Which has a bigger return?
Wondering how to increase home value? Maybe you’re considering remodeling a basement or attic?
One important thing to remember is that anything below the grade, basically the ground or foundation, aren’t factored into square footage. Therefore, an updated basement won’t be factored into an appraisal the same as a repurposed attic.
A study found a basement had a 66% return on a remodel, whereas an attic has 73%.
However, potential buyers may like the idea of a fun game room, man cave, or guest room in a basement. It just won’t help much for your home appraisal.
During the home appraisal, don’t follow the appraiser around too much. Some appraisers have said it can make them think there is something wrong with the home. Be available to answer questions but allow them to do their job.
If you can’t watch them the whole time, what do appraisers look for?
Appraisers are looking for the overall structure of the home to gauge the quality of the build. The size of the property will be factored into the total value. Also, the upkeep of the interior and exterior features help tell the story of the home.
10. Remember Your Neighborhood
It’s important that your surrounding area is factored into your appraisal.
What improvements have happened since you moved in? Was a new school, restaurant, or community park built? Note if your roads have been recently re-paved.
What is within 10 miles of your home? A luxury shopping center, university, or sports stadium can all affect the perceived value of your home.