10 Things to Do Before Your Home Appraisal
The purpose of a home appraisal is for lenders to gain an unbiased estimate of the fair market value of a home’s worth. The appraiser will be looking at your home’s exterior (including structure, age, location, construction type and quality, foundation and roof integrity, gutters, siding, and parking) and interior (including square footage of livable space, layout, utilities, appliances, structural integrity, code compliance, and number and size of bedrooms and bathrooms). Because your home appraisal greatly impacts the final sale of your home, it is important to do all you can to ensure as high of an appraised home value as possible. Here are 10 things to do before your home appraisal to facilitate the best outcome.
10 Things to Do Before Your Home Appraisal
- Make sure that all necessary safety equipment is installed and functioning. This includes smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and security systems, among other items.
- Check for damage that could decrease the value of your home—such as a leaky roof, gutter issues, a damaged floor, and HVAC issues. Ask your real estate agent for specific feedback on issues that would be best taken care of before the appraisal.
- Update out-of-style wallpaper, wood paneling, and paint colors; outdated tiles and flooring; window dressings; countertops; cabinets; and hardware such as drawer pulls, doorknobs, and faucets. Homes with neutral but modern-looking interiors are appraised for the highest value.
- Mind the exterior. When possible, touch up the paint on the home’s exterior, door, trims, and other surfaces. Make sure the lawn and landscaping are well tended to. Consider removing any dead trees on your property. Add some inviting color with flowers, and keep those flowerbeds nicely weeded and mulched. When seasonally appropriate, make sure the lawn is mown and the trees and shrubs are tidied up before the appraisal, but don’t water the lawn immediately before the appraiser comes—he or she really doesn’t want to track mud into your house! In the winter, make sure the driveway, all walkways, and outdoor steps are clear of snow and ice. Remove any excessive outdoor furniture, toys, and bikes that are in your yard. The key takeaway: homes with greatest curb appeal are appraised for the highest values.
- Perform a deep clean—inside and out. Wash your walls and surfaces, remove all clutter, shampoo the carpet, and powerwash your home’s exterior and driveway (when seasonally appropriate).
- Let 500 be your magic number. When it comes to home improvements and updates, the general rule of thumb is that if something will cost you less than $500 to fix, take care of it before the home appraisal. This is because your home will take hits for any problems in $500 increments.
- Do your research. While your real estate agent will be of tremendous value in this regard, do your own research on the value of similar homes in your neighborhood and any problems they encountered during their home appraisals that might apply to your home, too. Much of this information is available on public record, but you can speak to your neighbors about it if you’re comfortable doing so.
- Make a list of any home improvements that have been made to the home since you bought it. This list should include additions, HVAC replacements, siding, gutters, roof, and remodeling projects.
- Also, list new community amenities that have been added since you bought your home. This includes new or improved schools, parks, highway access, stores, and so on.
- Make it as easy as possible for the appraiser to appraise your home. Be accommodating in scheduling the appraisal, and make sure all necessary areas of your home (such as attics and basements) are accessible. Lock up any pets during the appraisal. And, of course, be on time to the appraisal.
Many sellers wonder if they should leave the home during the appraisal. While you won’t be faulted for staying in your home during the duration of the appraisal, an appraiser can often work more efficiently (especially in taking photos and measurements) when homeowners are not present. Whether or not you opt to leave your home during the appraisal, make sure your real estate is there to answer questions that an appraiser might have. Your real estate agent will also be able to provide comparable sales data to support the sales price.
As daunting as a home appraisal might seem, do not procrastinate on getting your home appraised. Use any information you receive about home defects to address the problems right away.