Tuesday’s Tip – 10 Tips To Get Your Home Appraisal Ready!

May 1, 2023

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10 Tips To Get Your Home Appraisal Ready

For more on today’s tip, see my video here on YouTube!

Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tip!  Today’s tip is for anyone who is getting ready to have their home appraised-whether you are having it appraised because your buyer is getting a loan or you are planning to refinance your home. The appraiser is going to come and look at your home and provide a value to the lender so you definitely want to make sure you are prepared to make sure your home gets the highest value it can.

So what exactly will the appraiser be looking at when he comes to your home?  There are 9 things that the appraiser will look at and evaluate:

  1. The exterior condition of your home
  2. The interior condition of your home
  3. The overall square footage of your home
  4. Any recent upgrades that you have done to your home
  5. If the home is modular or stick built
  6. The neighborhood
  7. The desirability of your lot
  8. The school district your home is in
  9. Any unusual factors that can affect your property’s value, either negatively or positively

So, knowing what the appraiser will be looking at, it would be a great idea to pull together information and prepare your home for the appraiser’s visit.  If you have been working with a good Realtor, the Realtor has probably already advised you how to make your home appraiser ready and may have even put together a package for the appraiser when they meet them at your house.  But just in case – here are my top ten tips for getting your home appraiser ready!

Make A List of Recent Upgrades To The House

Some upgrades are easily seen – updated appliances, updated fixtures, new flooring, etc.  But there are a lot of upgrades that aren’t easily seen by the appraiser – new windows, new HVAC, upgraded HVAC, upgraded plumbing, upgraded electrical, new roof, etc!  Make a list for the appraiser with the date the upgrade was done – and attach the documentation as well!

Improve Your Exterior Curb Appeal

The appraiser will make a judgement about how well your home is or isn’t being taken care of the moment they pull up in front of your house!  If the yard is overgrown, the vinyl siding has algae growing on it, there is peeling paint on the siding, etc. the appraiser may begin to think that your house has not been well taken care of.  Make sure to mow the lawn, power wash the exterior, sweep the walkways and driveways, etc!  You want the appraiser to walk into your home with a good feeling about it!

Don’t Have Personalized Decor In Your Home

Although having all the kid’s artwork in the house and having hundreds of your family photos on the walls won’t affect the value, it could have a negative effect in the mind of some appraisers.  You are going to move it anyways, so why not take the personalized decor, or at least limit how much is out for the appraiser to see!

Clean Up Any Mess or Clutter In The Home

Although appraisers are trained to overlook the toys that are strewn around the play room and the laundry piled up in the laundry room and the dogs and cats toys scattered throughout, the jelly stains on the kitchen walls – cleaning the carpet, scrubbing the walls, doing a thorough clean and putting away the clutter will help your home look newer and more attractive to the appraiser!  Do a deep clean of your home – remember, the appraiser is human like you and a spotless, well cared for home will let the appraiser give your home a better condition grade on the appraisal report!  Plus, by doing the deep cleaning now, you can maybe find problems that can be taken care of now, before the appraiser comes!

Pull Together The Comps For Your Home

If you listed your home for sale, and you used a good Realtor who knows the area, they were able to pull the comparable properties when you were coming up with the value for your home!  But if you are having the home appraised for a refinance, then you should be able to find the most recent sales in your neighborhood!  But don’t include just those homes that were sold through the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).  There may be some For Sale By Owner homes that sold in your neighborhood; perhaps there were some that were sold because the homeowner knew someone who wanted to buy their home!  Put together a package of those homes, including anything you know about the home – why the seller sold (was it an estate? was the homeowner in financial trouble? was the home sold to a relative? what upgrades did the home have? what upgrades did they not have? why did the owner sell it at the price they did?).  Any and all information will be most helpful to the appraiser when they are looking at the comps to come up with the value for your home!

Patch Up Any Imperfections In Your Home

The last thing you will want to have happen is having the appraiser find some imperfections in your home!  For instance, if you have an area in the basement that has mold, take care of it before the appraiser comes and see it!  Have a toilet that runs on?  Call out the plumber and have it taken care of!  Have a breaker that keeps tripping off?  Have the electrician come out and fix it!  You don’t want an appraiser to find these imperfections that could have easily been fixed before they came out to your house!  Hiring a contractor or handyman to take care of these things goes a long way to getting a high value for your home!

Make Sure Everything Is Functioning Properly

The appraiser will be verifying that all the major systems are functioning properly.  If you have a buyer getting an FHA loan, the appraiser may do a limited inspection – making sure that the water runs and there are no leaks in the plumbing.  They may also open up a panel box to make sure that the panel box is properly labelled.  They may open up your crawl space and verify that there is a vapor barrier there.  They may go up to the attic and take a look at it to see if there are any water stains indicating a leaking roof.  And they will look at the exterior for things like peeling paint, deteriorating roof shingles, cracks in the foundation.  Take a hard look at your house and if there are any major issues, get them taken care of before the appraiser gets there!

Make Sure Any Upgrades and Improvements Were Properly Done With Proper Permits

There are a lot of houses where additions are put on, unfinished spaces (such as a walk up attic or basement area) are finished into livable space and other improvements are done to the house!  Before any of these major changes were done, hopefully your contractor got the proper permits and the work was done in compliance with the legal requirements of the city or county.  If they were not, make sure you get this corrected before the appraiser comes.  Some appraisers may go to the county and actually check to see if these additions were done in compliance with the building code of the county/city.  If not, it is possible that the appraiser may not value this square footage in the appraisal or it may even become a lender issue!

Check The Tax Records For Square Footage Discrepancies

In this area, it is very possible that the square footage shown in the tax records will be way off from the actual square footage of your home.  If you had an appraisal done previously, that appraiser would have measured the house and that square footage may be different (and more accurate) than that shown in the tax records.  If the appraiser comes to your house, they will actually measure the house.  But there are many lenders who will do what is called a drive by appraisal, which means they won’t actually get out of the car and measure your home!  If your home is bigger than what is shown in the tax records, that could make a huge difference in your value!  Check the tax record to verify that it matches what the correct square footage should be.

Give The Appraiser Space

When the appraiser comes to your home, give them the package you have prepared with all of the information noted above.  Answer any questions the appraiser may have and then let the appraiser have the space to walk through the house and make notes on your home. Be polite.  If you have dogs make sure the dogs are kept out of the appraisers way!  If you have small children, keep the children entertained so that they are not in the appraiser’s way!  This will go a long way to not only making sure the appraiser can appraise your home but that they can do it in comfort!

These simple tips will go a long way to making sure your home appraises for the highest value it can.  There really is no need to stress about the appraisal and doing all of these things before the appraisal is even set helps to take some of the stress out!  Preparing the package you can give to the appraiser will also help take the stress away.  Remember, there is what we call the $500 rule – things that need to be corrected or are outdated will usually take a hit to the value in $500 increments.  If there are a lot of things that the appraiser notes in terms or repairs or are outdated, this can result in a loss of value in the thousands of dollars!  

If you have questions about the appraisal, or you are thinking of buying or selling a home in the Richmond area, feel free to let me know – I am happy to help!  No obligation, no pressure!