High-Value Tips For Your Home Appraisal

Homeownership By Noah - July 6, 2020

If your friends or family have sold or refinanced their home, you’ve probably heard of appraisal anxiety. Even though appraisers have standardized operations, it’s hard not to feel judged.

We get it, and we know that the best way to make your home appraisal manageable is to be prepared. Below are some tips to help you prepare your home for a better appraisal.

First Impressions Matter  

Curb appeal is everything – it’s best to have a clean and neat exterior to start things off on the right foot.

  • The exterior of your home is the first thing the appraiser will see. The front, side, and back sections of your yard will all factor into the value of your house. So grab your gardening gloves, pull out your lawnmower, and get to work. Clean up loose debris, dead leaves, or tall grass.
  • If yard work seems a little too daunting with your mounting to-do list, a cleaning service, lawn service or gardener could do the trick. 
  • If your home was built with high-quality materials like stone or fiber cement siding, be sure to mention that to the appraiser, along with any nice views from inside the home. 

What’s On The Inside Counts 

Presenting a clean house can only help your appraisal. Appraisers are human after all, and having a clean house will make the process much more pleasant for them.  

  • A home without a warm interior is just a hollow shell, not a place that can be lived in and enjoyed. Show your home at its best by doing some deep cleaning—getting all the nooks and crannies—before the appraisal. Make sure the furniture is arranged properly and laundry is stashed away. This may be tough for parents, but putting away toys and displaying your home at its best will result in an overall better experience for the appraiser.
  • Explore the possibility of adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls and replacing any old faucets and door handles.
  • Highlight positive features of the interior, like stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, or granite countertops.  
  • Above all, remember the $500 rule. Appraisers will knock $500 off of a home’s value for every minor issue. If a carpet is stained, get a steam cleaner to quickly clean it or buy a cheap throw rug to cover over it. 

It’s All About the Fundamentals 

Your home could look perfect, but if it doesn't have the basics nailed down, the home’s appraisal value may end up disappointing you.  

  • Make sure none of your light bulbs are burnt out and all your windows can open and close easily. 
  • Double-check to see if your smoke and fire alarms are functional and that your water heater is “double strapped.” If this isn’t the case, you may have to spend a good chunk of pocket change for a second appraisal visit. 

A Home isn’t a Home Without a Neighborhood 

An appraiser will likely have to travel to conduct their work, and likely won’t know your neighborhood as well as you. Make sure to highlight the important features and interesting information about the community you live in. 

  • Highlight the positive aspects of your area—maybe it’s the best school district in a 20-mile radius or has a strong safety score.
  •  It’s also important to bring up neighborhood amenities like parks, public transit, shopping, and dining.   

Renovations. Renovations. Renovations. 

Talk about the changes you’ve made to your home, and demonstrate how the financial investment you’ve made can have a positive impact on the assessment.

  • Keep a list of home improvements to show off to the appraiser. It shows you’ve put in effort into making your home a better place to live. 
  • Don’t worry if you haven’t added a bedroom or demolished an old office—home improvements can be as simple as changing the wallpaper or adding small upgrades.  

Keep A List. Check It Twice. 

Just as you keep an ongoing list of renovations in the house, it’s also a good idea to write down a  list of homes in the area, and how your house compares. 

  • Comparable sales or “comps” are similar homes in your neighborhood or area that have recently been sold. Be sure to show your appraiser a list of comps so they have more knowledge about the going rate for homes in your neighborhood. 
  • Make sure you also chat about how your home differs from these, and the unique features it has or recent upgrades you’ve made.
  • If you’re unsure of how to build a comps list, check out websites like Zillow, Redfin, or HouseCanary.  

Though there are many little details to consider during the home appraisal process, these are small updates that can add a decent amount of value to your home without breaking your budget. Remember that an appraiser is a guest in your home, and you should treat them as such—with a warm welcome and a tidy home. If you follow these tips, you’ll have nothing to worry about during your upcoming appraisal.