Whether you’re refinancing or looking to get a fair market price for your home, you’ll need an appraiser to determine your property’s value. Appraisals are primarily based on recent sales prices of comparable properties, but in thriving markets, those sales prices might not be high enough to support the newest deals. (They can even drive down the price of your home!)
Even though the appraisal process is supposed to be objective, there are actually a number ways you can boost your home’s value. Appraisers look at factors like your home’s square footage, features, and condition, and compare them to other comparable homes in your area.
While you may not be able to change your property’s size, you can follow these easy adjustments that will improve your home’s appraisal value.
Step 1 – Clean Up Clutter From the Outside In
Like with future potential buyers, you want to really show off your property to the appraiser. Think about what they are going to see when they first arrive. An unruly row of hedges or a pile of snow and leaves is not only an eyesore for visitors, but can even be a distraction to your appraiser as they make notes and take measurements.
Clutter of any kind can suggest your home is not properly taken care of or regularly maintained, and may lead your appraiser to question if the home has any decay or infestations. Remove leaves and debris from gutters and sidewalks, mow and water the lawn, prune trees and hedges and clean the windows from the outside. A fresh outer appearance is the first sign that you care about your home.
Step 2 – Polish Your Space
Once the clutter has been removed from outside the home, it’s time to tackle the inside! Clean and declutter everything from top to bottom. This includes wiping down walls, giving those bathrooms an extra scrub and deep cleaning the kitchen tile grout. Take your time and work to make the house really sparkle.
Step 3 – Provide Your Own Neighborhood Comps
Is the appraiser from within a 10-mile radius of your property? Your appraiser should be local and understand how nearby neighborhood real estate prices differ. Even still, they might not know exactly where neighborhood boundaries are or are looking at the wrong comparables (“Comps”). Offer the appraiser a map of your neighborhood boundaries along with a list of what you feel are the best comps in your area. You want to supply as much information as you can about the quality of your neighborhood.
Keep an eye for homes selling on your street or in your area, and find the MLS listing– or even the sales sheet! While the appraiser will look for their own comparables, it doesn’t hurt to provide them with a few of your own. You don’t want your appraisal to be negatively skewed.
Good news: this also works on the flip side! If your home sits in a lower-priced neighborhood but borders a higher-priced pocket, you’ll want your appraiser to be aware of this as well. (Having a $500,000 + home only a block from a street with million dollar homes may work in your favor!)
Step 4 – “Splurge” on the Quick Fixes
Thinking of skipping out on simple home projects before your appraisal? Keep the $500 rule in mind. Appraisers often appraise homes in $500 increments and take this into account when a repair is required. That means any leaky faucets, poor water pressure, cracks and chips can have a significant financial impact on your home’s value, even if it doesn’t actually cost that much to fix.
Step 5 – Brag About Your Home
Some appraisers prefer to not have you there so they can get the job done without feeling pressure, but if you can, you may want to attend the appraisal so you can provide the appraiser with additional information. Just make sure to give them some space and let them properly get the job done.
You know about recent updates, overhauls and any regular maintenance on your home that your appraiser doesn’t. Make sure to mention or provide a list of these. (Bonus points if you can provide detailed spreadsheets or before and after photos!) Is there something about your specific location that gives your home a real boost? Add it to the list. For example, parking and large outdoor space for an urban home is a selling feature you want to highlight. Love your town? Give it a shout out. Remind your appraiser of recent developments or additions.
Remember not to bug the appraiser with questions and comments. Instead, simply be prepared to answer any of their questions and, to wait until they’ve completed their inspection to ask any questions you may have.