It’s important to ensure your home’s value comes out as high as possible in an appraisal. After all, most of the offers you’ll receive require the buyer to get financing through a mortgage lender.
Essentially, the higher the appraised value of your home, the more seamless the home selling process will be.
Taking the time to prepare your home for an appraisal is your best chance of increasing its appraised value. Here are nine tips to help.
1. Start with your home’s curb appeal
Your home’s curb appeal is the first impression you make on a potential buyer and the appraiser, so make the most of it.
You can boost your home’s curb appeal with multiple budget-friendly ideas that often take just a few hours to complete.
You can start by laying new mulch, planting flowers, raking leaves, trimming overgrown bushes, and clearing the sidewalks and driveway to make your home appear safe and clean.
After that, you can move on to more extensive curb appeal projects, such as painting your home’s exterior features to make them stand out.
You want to show the appraiser – and prospective buyers – that your home has been well kept both inside and out.
Although appraisers overlook the lived-in appearance of a house, clearing out clutter can make their job easier since they will take measurements and pictures during the appraisal process.
The appraiser’s ability to perform their job will be impaired if household items are left in the way. Clean and light homes appear more spacious, and can give the appraiser an accurate sense of the home’s condition.
There are a few key areas that should be decluttered in the home; the bedroom, kitchen, and living room.
- ⬥ Keep your kitchen sink clear of dishes and put them away on the day of your appraisal. Additionally, removing rarely used appliances from countertops will make the space appear larger.
- ⬥ Keep magazines, books, and newspapers off surfaces in the living room. Reduce the number of pillows and blankets in your space to keep it looking minimal and streamlined.
- ⬥ Make sure all clothing is off the floor and stored in drawers or closets. If you have old or unused clothing, consider donating it to a thrift store or shelter.
3. Thoroughly clean your home
Appraisers must follow strict regulations, although there are many aspects of their jobs that are subjective. Take time to thoroughly clean your home ahead of the appraisal.
When a home is clean and tidy, it speaks volumes about its owner and helps an appraiser see each feature in the best possible light.
Eliminate odors from the fridge, garbage, pets, or dirty laundry, and pay special attention to ‘hidden’ areas, such as baseboards and cupboards, that aren’t part of your usual cleaning routine.
Consider hiring a cleaning service to deal with bigger problems, such as shampooing your carpets to get rid of caked-on stains or debris. In addition, while deep cleaning your home, you might spot – and then fix – issues before the appraisal.
4. Perform minor repairs – the $500 rule
Walk through your home and be sure that everything works properly.
If the home has minor issues, such as leaky faucets or squeaky doors, you can resolve them ahead of the appraisal to prevent the house from being undervalued.
Many appraisers adhere to the $500 rule, which values property in $500 increments. Therefore, even minor fixes can incrementally boost your home’s appraised value.
Here are a few quick and easy repairs you can make:
- ⬥ Stabilizing any handrails on stairs, steps, or raised decks.
- ⬥ Replacing burnt-out bulbs.
- ⬥ Ensure that smoke alarms are working properly and that their batteries have been replaced.
- ⬥ Addressing any stains on the roof or leaks in the plumbing.
5. Examine your garage, roof, foundation, and home systems
As well as curb appeal, the appraiser will check your home’s exterior to ensure that it is structurally sound. The appraisal process will consider signs of water damage, a cracked or leaning chimney, or loose shingles as indicators of underlying damage.
Look for signs of water intrusion or cracks in the foundation, ceiling, or walls. These are signs of foundation damage that must be addressed.
Also, ensure that your roof still has at least three more years of economic life since the quality of your roof will determine the value of your home.
Inspect your garage door opener, all garage outlets, and make sure all utilities, such as water and electricity, and the HVAC system are functioning properly.
6. Do small upgrades
There are simple home improvements you can make to increase your property’s value and increase your chances of a high appraisal. Keep in mind, however, that you should prioritize items that clearly require action rather than stressing over those that are merely desirable.
Replacing worn or dirty door and drawer handles can revitalize your home without investing a lot of money. It also serves as a great way to modernize your space.
A fresh coat of paint can also improve the look of your rooms. Go with tried-and-true neutral colors, such as light grey, cream, or beige, for an upgrade that is both simple and sophisticated.
7. Make a list of your home improvements
Make a list of home improvements you’ve made, such as remodeling your kitchen or installing a new HVAC system. Once you have this list, you can provide the appraiser with any supporting documentation you need in order to prove these upgrades have been made. An appraiser will see how much additional value you have added to the home, and that will help them justify their appraisal.
8. Create an inviting environment
Although an appraiser’s job is to be objective, creating a welcoming environment is crucial for making a good first impression.
Light and bright spaces are more inviting, so open up any blinds or curtains as much as possible and keep the lights on throughout the home.
Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature and add soft touches to the interior with pillows or blankets. As you prepare for a home appraisal, these tips will help you make your appraiser’s visit more enjoyable.
9. Analyze comparable properties in the area
Comparing real estate comps in your neighborhood – also called comparables – will give you valuable insight into the appraisal value you can hope to receive for your home.
It’s best to look at homes that have sold within the last 3 to 6 months and are approximately the same size and have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Comparing your home with others in your area will also give you a general idea of how yours compares, allowing you to view its exterior and interior features, as well as its general condition. Getting to know the comps in your area will also allow you to challenge an appraisal if it is too low.
The appraiser will also examine comps in your area in order to establish a baseline of the value of comparable homes in your area. There are many factors to consider when determining how much your home is worth, such as its size, location, neighborhood, and other factors. An appraiser will make adjustments based on the characteristics of each property compared with the subject property being appraised.
Preparing for an appraisal: Key takeaways
You can prepare for a home appraisal with ease when you know what the appraiser will be looking for.
Several things can be done ahead of time to streamline the appraisal process, and it’s worth taking the time to make sure that your house stands out from the rest.
Ensure your home’s interior is as beautiful as its exterior and that all appliances and systems are functioning properly.
Declutter and make minor repairs to your home, and to create a list of improvements. Ultimately, all of these factors combined work to maximize your home’s value.
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