Whether you are selling a home or refinancing your current mortgage, getting an appraisal is part of the process. In fact, it’s a very important part of the process that if you fail to pay attention to and prepare for could derail your purchase or refinance. Here’s what you need to know, and steps you can take to get the most out of your appraisal.
Keep in mind that your appraiser is human, and cannot help but use his or her impressions of you and your home as part of the appraisal process. If you want a top dollar appraisal, your home must be in tip-top shape. Above all, be courteous, respectful and helpful but not hovering. Make their job easier by accommodating to their schedule, being at home when they arrive, and removing all distractions – like pets – from the home.
As for your home, here’s what you can do to prepare:
A home’s curb appeal can increase or decrease its value so you can score value right away from your appraiser’s first impression of your home. Increase curb appeal with a well-maintained, clean exterior, and neat landscaping. Clean up flower beds and around shrubs, put mulch down, trim bushes and shrubs away from the home. Cut away foliage from the front of the home and the entrance so the home is visible. Repair any cracks in your driveway or sidewalk. Clean lighting and place patio furniture with decorative pillows.
Make sure the inside of your home is neat, clean, and decluttered. If you have lots of ‘stuff’ you may want to box up what you can and put it in storage or stow at a neighbors home. A clean, decluttered interior gives the appraiser the sense of order, organization and that the home is well-cared for.
Speaking of a well-cared for home, you’ll need to make all the repairs you know your home needs and complete any outstanding maintenance items. Oftentimes, it’s these little details that an appraiser will notice that eat away at a higher appraisal.
Make sure to have all home-safety equipment required by law present and in working order. Test and replace batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detectors.
Locate and organize all of your documentation of improvements, major repairs and upgrades you’ve dong on your home. Compile receipts, permits, and if possible before and after photos. It’s also a good idea to have handy your most recent property tax bill, property tax survey and HOA documents.
Put together your own list of comparable home sales by researching the sales prices and personally driving by all the homes that have sold recently in your neighborhood. Document what you know about the homes and why they sold for the price they did. For example, if there’s a home in the area that sold for an uncharacteristically low price because the buyers purchased it as a tear down, point that out in your notes. Present this information to the appraiser when they visit your home so they have it when they are completing your appraisal. Afterward it will likely be too late.
Following these steps and paying attention to the small maintenance and cleanliness details can result in a much younger effective age for your home and increase the appraisers estimate of the home’s remaining economic life or the amount of time the home will retain its market value. Proper preparation for your appraisal can result in real money in your pocket, so it’s worth your time. If you have any questions regarding the appraisal of your home, give one of our mortgage advisors a ring. We’d love to help!