Home Appraisal Tips – Preparing for the Appraiser’s Visit
Home Appraisal Tips

An appraisal helps set a property’s market value. The appraisal will also include the value of the land that the property sits on. These home appraisal tips can help you prepare for the appraiser’s visit. Note that a home appraisal is different from an inspection.

In the weeks leading up to your appraisal appointment, create a to-do checklist, completing a few projects or tasks each week. Walk around your home, inside and out, taking notes with a critical eye. Completing repairs of any previously deferred maintenance may make the appraisal process go quicker. Identify areas of your home where paint has chipped or is peeling and look for areas of the roof that may be in disrepair.

COVID-19 TIP: While many lenders have temporarily changed their policies to encourage exterior-only, drive-by, or desktop appraisals, there are appraisers still doing on-site valuations. As part of your checklist, make sure to include social distancing and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep you and the appraiser safe.

Leading up to your home appraisal, walk around your property with fresh eyes. Are your windows’ exterior clean? Are there weeds in the yard, children’s toys, or other clutter on the lawn, and is it neatly manicured? Don’t forget to keep your decks and outdoor areas organized as well. Tidying up can help improve the appeal of your home and can be taken care of rather quickly. Also, consider adding a few new plants in pots or in the ground that can bring some new life to your home’s exterior. A clean home not only looks newer but will help attract potential buyers

COVID-19 TIP: To limit areas an appraiser might need to touch, remember to prop open any outside doors before the appraiser’s visit such as garages, storage units, etc.

A low-cost, high-benefit improvement that can influence overall appeal is a fresh coat of paint. Repainting the walls can give a home the appearance of being modern and updated. Before you start painting, look around for those pesky holes and cracks in your walls. Patching compound and a spackle tool will fix most problems. Think about other areas that could use a make-over, perhaps a dingy fireplace, faded cupboards, or weathered window trim. Maybe a coat of white paint will give them a new look. Just remember to tape walls and throw down drop cloths to protect your windows, fixtures, and floors.

COVID-19 TIP: Be sure to paint with enough time in advance of your appraisal appointment for it to dry and fumes wear off. Paint fumes can potentially cause someone to cough or sneeze.

Visual clutter can be distracting. Organizing and tidying up the interior of your home can help the overall appeal. The appraiser is there to get a clear and accurate look at your property, so make it easier for them to only focus on what they need to see. Also, pay attention to outdated décor that can make a home appear less modern, which can have a negative impact.

COVID-19 TIP: Limit the number of things an appraiser needs to touch to properly evaluate your property. Be sure to remove clutter from walkways and have interior doors open before the appointment time.

A well-maintained home will typically have more appeal to new buyers. Small repairs that are unattended to can add up and reduce the overall appeal of your home. Relativity minor repairs in need can leave the buyer with the impression that the overall condition of the home is inferior to the other competitive properties. Simple fixes can include replacing non-functioning door latches or handles, torn window screens, basic plumbing, and light fixtures. When listing your home, fixing these small items can add appeal and help enhance the overall impression of your property.

Communicate to your appraiser of any home upgrades and improvements such as new additions, replaced HVAC units, new roof, remodeled kitchen, or updated bathrooms. These may positively affect the value of your home. Remember to highlight items that may not be readily observable, such as new plumbing or electrical work. If square footage has been added, obtain copies of permits, and provide to the lender before the appraisal order as this can save confusion and frustration during the appraisal and underwriting process.

COVID-19 TIP: Email the appraiser a list of upgrades and home improvements before the visit. This avoids handing the appraiser any paperwork and maintains social distancing.

Ensure your home has working smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and a strapped water heater (in regions that require these items). Remember to check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher(s). Lenders typically require this as part of their underwriting guidelines, so this will help prevent delays in closing your loan. It will also save you the cost of having another inspection done.

COVID-19 TIP: If you have furniture or large appliances directly under smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, temporarily move them so the appraiser can avoid touching them when assessing if they are properly installed.

Look at recent sales of neighboring homes similar to yours online. Ask your neighbors what issues they might have experienced during their loan process. They may provide you insight on common problems when selling that you can easily avoid. Additionally, take note of your surrounding area, including shopping, school districts, access to transportation, restaurants, and parks that can all influence the overall appeal and may increase the value of your home. Point these out to your appraiser.

COVID-19 TIP: Remember to practice social distancing and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when talking to neighbors, as well as emailing the appraiser a list of area amenities before the visit. This avoids handing the appraiser any paperwork and maintains social distancing.

Pay attention to the comfortability of your home on the day of your appraisal. Is it a hot or cold day? Be sure to set your AC or heating to a comfortable temperature. If you have pets, ensure they are leashed or being kept to where they won’t interfere with the appraiser’s ability to properly evaluate your property. The appraiser will need access to the entire home to take photos and possibly measurements, so no room should be locked or off-limits. Most importantly, don’t hover. Be available for questions, but give them space.

COVID-19 TIP: In addition to social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), it is helpful to turn on lights, pull back shower curtains, and open interior doors, crawl hatches, attic doors, etc. to limit areas the appraiser needs to touch.

By preparing for the appraisal ahead of time, you’re more likely to get an accurate valuation that reflects your home’s value. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Create a checklist of projects and minor repairs in and around your home, giving yourself ample time to address before the day of your appraisal.
  • Simple fixes can increase the value of your property, a well-maintained home adds to the overall appeal and that may translate to more worth.
  • The appraiser will need to access the entire home and is required to take photographs of the interior and exterior. These photos will be viewed by your lender’s underwriter who will approve your loan. It’s in your best interest to have these photos reflect a clean, well-maintained property.

COVID-19 TIP: Keep in mind, like other facets of real estate during a pandemic, appraisals may take a bit longer. The best thing you can do during the appraisal process is to have clear communication and swift responses with the appraiser to keep things moving forward.