How To Prepare for a Home Appraisal To Maximize Your Value

How To Prepare for a Home Appraisal To Maximize Your Value

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Allow Access To All Areas Of Your Home

Depending on the type of financing a buyer is using to buy your home can determine what the appraiser has to review.  For example, if a buyer is obtaining an FHA home loan, the appraiser is going to be required to look in any crawl spaces and to take photographs.

While you prepare for an appraisal, it’s a good idea to make sure there is clear access to all areas within your home.  It won’t make an appraiser happy if they have to clear an entire closet full of clothes in order to access an attic crawl space hatch.

If your home has a crawl space in the basement, knee wall storage, a garage loft, or other tough to access areas, make sure you do your best to ensure there is relatively easy access to these areas.

Inspect For Potential Safety Issues Around Your Home

Inspect Your Home For Potential Safety Issues As You Prepare For An Appraisal!

Safety issues in a home are one of the most common issues resulting from a bank appraisal.  One of the primary jobs of an appraiser, in addition to determining a fair market value of the home, is to be on the lookout for safety issues in a home.

As you prepare for an appraisal, you need to inspect your home for potential safety issues that can raise a red flag for an appraiser.  A few of the most common bank appraisal repairs that are cited in appraisal reports include peeling paint, missing handrails, and broken windowpanes.

It’s possible an appraiser can miss potential safety issues in your home, but it’s always suggested to be proactive and repair prior to the appraisal appointment.  If you’re unsure if you have any potential safety issues that an appraiser may identify, ask your real estate agent.  An experienced real estate agent can often walk through a home and point out things that an appraiser may potentially ask to be repaired.

What Happens After the Appraisal?

After the appraisal, the next step is underwriting. The mortgage lender reviews the loan file to ensure that everything is in order, assesses the risk, and either approves or denies the application. Some borrowers might receive conditional approval, meaning that some item needs to be resolved or explained. If the mortgage or refinance is approved, the next step in the process is closing.

Who Pays for the Appraisal?

The borrower must pay for the appraisal regardless of whether the loan closes because the appraiser still did the work. While the fee may seem worthwhile if it enables you to get the refinancing terms that you want, it can seem like a waste of money if a low appraisal means that you can’t refinance.

Since lenders cannot discuss a home’s value or anticipated “target value” with an appraiser at the time of assignment, homeowners are not able to get an appraiser’s ballpark estimate of whether their home is likely to appraise high enough for them to refinance before they pay for the service, as they could before the new regulations. At best, you can search for recent comparable sales on websites such as Zillow and Redfin, but these records may be inaccurate or incomplete.

Another option is to ask a real estate agent to do a comparative market analysis (CMA) and provide you with printouts of recent comparable sales from the multiple listing service (MLS), says Bruce Ailion, an agent with RE/MAX Greater Atlanta. Ask nicely, as the agent will be doing you a favor—unlike with a home sale, they won’t earn any commission from your refinance.

When Does a Home Appraisal Happen?

In most cases, the home appraisal occurs after you’ve accepted an offer and the home inspection has been completed. Many lenders want the appraisal done within a week of the completed inspection. You’ll have to coordinate the appointment with the appraisal company. The timing is important because you’ll need time to properly prepare for the home appraisal.

How Long Does A Home Appraisal Take

The appraisal usually has two parts. First, the ap

The appraisal usually has two parts. First, the appraiser must physically come to the home and briefly tour it. This only takes about 15 to 20 minutes. As a Realtor® familiar with Indiana home appraisals I can share with you the norm is that the buyer is not present when the appraiser walks through the home. With an FHA, VA, or USDA and its added verification of minimum property conditions, the appraiser may be at the property for 30 to 40 minutes.

The second part is the report. I usually do not begin inquiring about the appraisal report until 7 to 9 days after the appraiser has visited the property.

An additional frequently asked question is how long does a home appraisal last? The answer to this depends on the type of loan.

  • Conventional or insured conventional loan: lender dependent, but generally 90 days to 6 months
  • FHA loan: 120 days from the date of appraisal
  • VA loan: 6 months from the date of the appraisal
  • USDA loan: 150 days from the date of the appraisal

What is Home Appraisal?

In home-selling, a home appraisal is an unbiased evaluation or report of your property’s current value in the market. A certified state-licensed professional appraiser is going to evaluate your home and give its total worth. Usually, this is objectively evaluated through different factors including the property’s features, condition, location, current market trends, and specifically in comparison with the other sold properties near your area. It’s also possible that the home-selling transaction can be canceled or delayed when the appraisal value is lower than the expected value.

Although there are aspects you can’t change—i.e. your location and the value of your neighborhood homes—there are a few simple yet impactful steps you can follow.

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10 Tips For Preparing For A Home Appraisal

As a Realtor® I have learned a thing or two about

As a Realtor® I have learned a thing or two about preparing for an appraisal. These home appraisal tips are here to tell you how to prepare your home for an appraisal and effective actions for increasing your home appraisal value. I have also included a downloadable home appraisal checklist to prepare for a home appraisal.

1. Don’t Get Your Own Appraisal

First, getting an appraisal before selling your home is a waste of time and money. The only appraisal that matters is the one ordered by the buyer’s lender. Instead, let’s focus on what to do regarding the appraisal that does matter.

2. Cut The Grass

The outside of your home should be well kept. The outside is the appraiser’s first impression of your home. Additionally, the appraiser is going to walk around the yard to view it and the home’s exterior. Make sure the yard is free of any trip and fall hazards. Clean up any dog mess in the yard, too. You wouldn’t want to ruin the appraiser’s day by having him or her step in a pile of doggy-doo.

3. Clean Your House

Cleaning your home is the best thing to do before

Cleaning your home is the best thing to do before a home appraisal. Treat the home appraisal like it is the most important showing because at this point it is. You want the appraiser to have a pleasant experience while appraising your home. This means your home should be neat and clean with everything in its place. No dirty laundry, dirty dishes, or overflowing garbage cans.

4. Staged To Sell

Using what you have, make the space inviting, warm, and desirable. Just like when you were showing the home you want to have a high aesthetic sentiment in the home. This is the feeling of positive vibes you get from seeing and being in a space. Have the lights on, doors open, and the shades and drapes up and open. Do whatever staging you were doing for showings, too.

5. If It’s Broken, Fix It

It is likely by the time you have an appraisal you have already had an inspection and may have agreed to fix some items. For this section, I am talking about fixing open and obvious items. A door handle, a light switch, or some other common item that any visitor would see. If you’re trying to get the top dollar for your house, make the effort and fix anything openly and obviously not working correctly.

6. Easy Access

All parts of the home should be easy for the appraiser to access. This includes scuttling hatches into attics. Some appraisers are more thorough than others. Some loan types require a more thorough review of the home, too. Again, you want the appraiser to have a pleasant experience in your home. Don’t make the appraiser have to figure out how to access parts of the home.

7. Be A Wallflower

If you decide to be home and present during the appraisal try not to interfere. Guess what…it’s not the appraiser’s first day. He or she knows what to do. The appraiser does not want you to take them on the dime tour, talk their ear off, or anything else. Be courteous and just let the appraiser complete the task at hand.

8. List Meaningful Updates

Home appraisers do care about meaningful updates,

Home appraisers do care about meaningful updates, and these will increase your home’s appraisal value. Communicate these updates by leaving a list of updates where the appraiser will find them. Note to the appraiser that he or she can take it with them. Also, include invoices for the work.

The careful part of this comes here. The appraiser really doesn’t care that you bought a $50 bag of grass seed and put it on the lawn last year. Instead, focus on more meaningful items. A recent kitchen or bathroom remodel, a new roof, new HVAC equipment, a new water heater, a recent interior or exterior paint job that covered 50% or more of the home. These are meaningful updates that can push the value needle upward. Include invoices if you have them. Do not put down budgetary figures from work you did yourself or estimated values.

9. Make The Appraiser Aware Of Multiple Offers

Let the appraiser know if your home received multiple offers at the same time. If you are working with a real estate agent your agent will most likely take care of this for you. If you are selling your home FSBO print out the other offers and leave copies of those for the appraiser.

10. Don’t Run Comps Or Provide Examples Of Comparable Home Sales

I’m going to keep this really short to prove my point.

How about I show up at your job tomorrow and tell you how to do it despite the fact I have never done your job for a day in my life? That doesn’t feel good, does it?

Yep, that’s what I thought. Don’t try to run comps and give those to the appraiser.

The Bottom Line

You should prepare your home for the best possible refinance appraisal. Make sure that your home’s appliances and systems work and that your home’s exterior looks great. Invest in a few small upgrades, do some decluttering and make plans for children and pets before the appraisal.

Finally, research comparable properties and create a list of everything you’ve improved in your home for your appraiser. All these factors working in conjunction can help improve your final appraisal value.

Top 8 Tips Home Appraisal Checklist

How does one best prepare for an appraisal? We put together a checklist of common (and not-so-common) tips to help ensure you get a high valuation from your appraiser.

1) Do Your Own Appraisal

Imagine that you are the appraiser. Walk around your home indoors and out, and really scrutinize, as if you were going to rebuy your house. Take note of any truly obvious damage or deferred maintenance that needs your attention. Leaks, broken systems, and damaged surfaces should all go on your list of things to quickly repair.

Thoroughly inspect safety equipment like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and home security systems: Are they all functioning, or do parts or entire systems need to be replaced? Make a plan to repair these issues, and clean up any cosmetic issues that may have occurred as a result.

2) Investigate Comps

Check out recent home sales in your neighborhood. What has the price range been for homes with features and updates similar to yours? The values of these comparable homes (also known as “comps” in the industry) should be similar to what your home will appraise for. This information can help you know where to focus your time, efforts, and funds. If you happen to know a neighbor (or real estate agent) who recently sold a home in your area, contact them to find out if there were any appraisal issues or insights that they can share.

If you’re working with a real estate agent, you can request that they collect some comps for you and your appraiser to review. Particularly if your home has unique or uncommon features, your agent may need to get creative while staying within the guidelines for selecting comps.

3) Get Superficial

Clean your house from top to bottom and remove any extra clutter. Once you have scrubbed and straightened up everything possible, consider making cosmetic updates that can have a big impact for a low cost. Painting or touching up existing paint, hanging updated window treatments, and replacing worn faucets, doorknobs and cabinet hardware are all easy updates that can have a big impact.

If you have been planning to update your decor after you move, consider bringing in a few of the newer pieces to make the old house look fresh and modern. Downsizing or moving long distance? Ask your real estate agent if they have staging furnishings you can borrow, or recommendations for a service you can use.

4) Make Your Outdoor Areas Truly Great

Now that the inside of your house is looking great, it’s time to pay attention to the outside. Make sure that your landscaping is looking its best: Mow your lawn, trim your trees and bushes, and have any weeds or dead vegetation removed. Add color with inexpensive, seasonal annual flowers in the spring, summer, or fall, and make sure that snow removal is neat and tidy in the winter.

Remove outdoor clutter, like yard-work tools or stray toys, from everywhere on the property, and consider staging any outdoor living spaces with new furniture or accessories. Power wash your home’s exterior, as well as your driveway and any deck or patio surfaces. Most of this can easily be accomplished in just one weekend, and the increased curb appeal will be worth it.

Check out expert tips for outdoor home renovations — you may find just the right improvement to increase your value!

5) Be Sure To Share Your Upgrades

Don’t be afraid to mention to your home appraiser about the improvements you have done on your home. New features that you have added, updated HVAC units, exterior improvements like siding, gutters, or a new roof, and high-value room remodels like kitchens and bathrooms will all impact your appraisal value.

An easy way to make sure that your appraiser doesn’t miss or forget about any of these improvements is to create and share a short, one-page list detailing each. You should have this list ready in advance, and include permit information for any work that required one.

6) Know Your Neighborhood

Make sure that your appraiser is also aware of any recent improvements in your overall neighborhood. Perks like new or highly rated schools, parks, transportation improvements, shopping, or other amenities that benefit residents are worth mentioning. These kinds of changes can add significant value to your home, and if your appraiser is not a local resident, they may not be aware of them. Appraisers are often familiar with the general area, but you probably know your specific neighborhood better than they do.

7) Stay Focused

While you are working your way through the tasks and updates listed above, it’s important to remember not to go overboard and take on too many projects. Invest your time, money, and effort only on issues that clearly need attention. If you are getting an appraisal for a home you’re selling, you most likely already have a buyer who liked your home enough in its current state to make an offer on it. Any major changes made could easily end up as a waste of time and resources.

8) Be Polite

When presenting the information on your home and neighborhood, be friendly with your appraiser, and avoid being bossy or overbearing. Readily share your collected information, but then step back to let them do their job. Once they are done, ask them if they have any questions for you or if there are any issues they feel you need to know about.

Your home’s selling price is affected by much more than just the appraisal! Find out how the time of year can increase your sale price, or how disasters during home inspections can hurt it.

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