How Homeowners Can Make the Most of a Home Appraisal

A home appraisal is an important step in refinancing or selling a house. Understanding the process can help the seller or the refinancing homeowner earn the best marks possible on an appraisal report.
An appraiser will count the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, measure the square footage, and use neighborhood sales as a gauge to help smelt on a dollar value for your home. These are variables you can’t change, at least not in the short term. What you can change will take some time, but it is completely doable.

Hire the Right Appraiser
Sometimes the lender providing the refinanced loan selects the appraiser for you, but if you are in the position to hire your own appraiser, seek a licensed professional who has experience in your local area.

First Impressions Count
A clean home may not add dollars to its value, but a dirty home can definitely subtracts from it. Prepare your home and property inside and out to look its best. The appraiser will take photos of each room and look inside every closet. Make sure to:
:: Tidy up the landscaping and haul off outdoor trash
:: Clean and declutter indoors, especially on open surfaces
:: Lock up pets and deodorize the house

Keep a List of Upgrades
Did you add more insulation to your home? Mention it. Before the visit, prepare a list of small or extensive indoor and outdoor projects that you have completed while owning the home (up to fifteen years) for the appraiser to reference later. Provide copies of receipts and records for expensive materials and contracted work. Even if you did the work yourself, a home improvement projects, such as a new bath vanity and faucet, will be worth more than the cost of materials, so include the small improvements too.

Be Smart about Updates
Say you have a little money to spend — where will it go the furthest? Obvious fixes like dripping faucets are easy to remedy, but if time is the issue, prioritize improvements by focusing on condition, like painting dingy walls, or updating cheap lighting. When you’re spending money before an appraisal with hopes or improving the value, consult an expert first — an experienced real estate agent can spot the most glaring issues within minutes, and they’re savvy about making home-improvement dollars stretch.

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