Whether you’re planning to sell or refinance, a home appraisal is a necessary step in determining the value the lender will use in the lending decision. This means your home should be in the best possible condition so it will be appraised at the highest potential value. There’s nothing worse than receiving multiple offers, getting into contract above list price, and then having a low appraisal put the brakes on the sale. Or looking forward to the reduced payments from that refinancing and then end up not getting it.
In general, the Appraiser will be looking at the following items:
- Condition of the exterior of your house
- Exterior amenities such as garage, lanai, pool, storage
- Size and desirability of the lot
- Condition of the interior of your house
- Condition and age of the home’s systems – roof, plumbing, electrical
- Overall size/square footage of your home
- Any upgrades you may have done to your home
- The neighborhood in which your home is located
- Any unusual factors affecting the property, both positively and negatively
While it may be tempting to swing for the fences with big-ticket renovations to ensure the highest appraised value, there are smaller things you can do to efficiently raise the market value of your home or ensure the Appraiser doesn’t deduct value for deficiencies.
Do a Deep Clean & Declutter
If you’re selling your home, you should have already done this to prepare for showings. If you’re refinancing, use it as an excuse to get the family to help with a good clean. Appraisers are human and influenced by first impressions. If a home is clean and tidy, it appears that the owner has cared for and maintained the home. Consider hiring professionals to wax floors, shampoo the carpets, and conduct an intensive cleaning of the entire home.
Start Small with a Little Spackle & Paint
If you’ve lived in your home for any length of time, you’ve probably hung things on the walls, put up shelves, or simply had accidents that resulted in minor damage. If you’ve removed hanging wall art as part of the decluttering process, you may have some noticeable wall shadows. Now is the time to repair those blemishes. Filling holes and crevices with a little spackle and painting over the area will leave your walls looking like new. While this may not boost the value of your home, it will keep the appraiser from deducting for the damage.
As Long as You’re Painting…
You might want to consider freshening up the paint. Sometimes it’s impossible to match a paint color for touchups or it may be time to refresh a room with outdated colors that were great when you moved in 20 years ago. Repainting worn trim and moldings around the home can give it a fresh look. Venture outside and touch up the trim around the windows and doors too. This will boost curb appeal and help you add value to the home. Any area where the paint is peeling, chipping, or simply has lost its luster should be retouched with a fresh coat.
Conduct Other Minor Repairs
At some point, you should tour your home with the mindset of a home buyer. This will help you identify problems that you live with every day, but just don’t notice anymore. Look for things that need to be repaired, such as ripped window screens, a loose handrail, a leaky faucet, a burnt-out light bulb, or shorted electrical outlets and light switches. Repairing these problems ahead of time will ensure you won’t lose money on the appraisal.
Make A List of Improvements
Make a simple list of the interior and exterior improvements you have completed while you owned the home. People often think of only the most recent big projects like remodeling kitchens and bathrooms or adding a photovoltaic system. This list can include minor things like adding a window AC unit, refinishing floors, replacing the refrigerator, or replacing kitchen cabinet hardware. Be sure to include the approximate date of completion and cost of the improvement. This list will also help with your Seller’s disclosure if you haven’t already done it.
Review Your Property Tax Records
Whether your list of improvements includes a project requiring a permit or not, you will want to review your property tax records for any discrepancies regarding permits, number of bedrooms & bathrooms, and square footage. These are the common issues that come up and can often be resolved prior to the appraisal. If the issue can not be resolved, it is best to provide the Appraiser with any explanation or documentation you have regarding the issue.
Make Sure Your Realtor Attends the Appraisal
It is important for your Realtor to meet the Appraiser at the property to provide information about recent relevant sales, your list of improvements, and any other pertinent information such as multiple offers. Your Realtor should also be there to answer any Appraiser questions and take notes on any other information the Appraiser is requesting. Building good rapport with the Appraiser and making his/her job easy may be that little bit extra needed to ensure the home appraises at the value needed.
The suggestions offered here should give you a head start. If you have additional questions on how to add more value to your home, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ll be happy to tour your home with you and provide specific feedback about items that need to be addressed as well as simple improvements that can increase the value of your home.