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Preparing for property appraisals

image for property appraisal

Whether you need a property appraisal done as part of your home sale or as part of a refinancing process, making sure that your home shows its best for appraisals is important because you want to ensure that what you or someone else is paying for your home is fully recognized. This is one of the more unpredictable parts of the process and can cause anxiety and sometimes even frustration. This article provides some pointers on how to prepare for your appraisal to help increase the odds that your homes value will be appreciated and acknowledged.

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, garages and any other spaces inside

  • The total square footage of the home

  • The type of construction, such as concrete block or wood frame

  • 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, will form the bulk of the appraiser’s report on the home. Here are some things you may consider doing proactively to prepare for the appraisal.

Clean Up

This may sound a bit common sense but it is also very important. A home that is clean on the outside, as well as the inside, gives off a good impression. It may also show that you have cared for your home and mitigate any extra "scrutiny." I say the same thing when preparing for buyers... A home that looks neglected may cause people to question and scrutinize the condition of the mechanical elements of your home.

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 in each room. Organize and remove as much clutter in each room. An organized and neat home gives off a better feel to the appraiser and can help with the overall valuation.

Don't Forget About Curb Appeal

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.

Address Obvious Repairs

Going through the home meticulously will also give you the opportunity to find any possible problems for your own good. 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.

While cleaning outside, look for any necessary repairs. Broken window panes, rotten trim, damaged shutters, and chipped paint should all be fixed before the appraisal.Elements of your home that are in poor condition or need repair will all be distractions of your homes value and will earn deductions against the appraised value. 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.

Put Together 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. Keep in mind these improvements depreciate over time. Just because you put new appliances in 7 years ago, they may not be seen as an improvement any more.

  • 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

  • Upgraded windows and hurricane protection

  • Any addition to the home such as adding a new room

  • Improvements on the land such as adding a pool

  • Major revisions such as a kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel or bedroom remodel

In general, anything that improves the functionality of the home (and is current) 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 - 5 years.

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.

When I meet appraisers for my sellers I always bring suggested comparable sales to the appraiser and a summary of features, improvements and other valuable information. 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. This extra information can help the appraiser make a true appraisal of your home’s proper worth.

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.

It is important to be proactive with your appraisal. If you haven't and an appraisal comes back unfavorable, you may not have the option for a do over.


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