When you’re getting ready to purchase your home or refinance your mortgage, getting a home appraisal is a must.
Your home’s location, square footage, and value are what stands between you getting a great deal or losing a lot of money!
When selling your home, appraisals aren’t always mandatory. But are you looking to refinance? You’d think the worst that can happen is being denied the mortgage refinance deal you were looking to obtain. But in reality, getting approved with a low appraisal translates into awful mortgage loan terms, and possibly losing thousands in the long run.
While some home appraisal factors are impossible to change, there are plenty of other aspects you can cross off your checklist to boost your home’s final value.
Once you understand how home appraisals work, you can start taking control to give yourself an advantage.
What is a home appraisal?
A home valuation, or real estate appraisal, is a simple, objective process that helps determine the value of your home.
Many homeowners are looking to refinance. And lenders are always more than happy to help. Refinancing, however, comes with certain costs.
You may need the money, but lenders need some type of reassurance. In order to make sure you’re not over-borrowing, lenders need to know what your property is worth.
Since certain factors, such the size of your home or the neighborhood you live in are impossible to change, you can find plenty of improvements and upgrades you can focus on, and get a better deal!
Home appraisal tips and checklist
- Get to know your neighborhood before the appraisal
To add value to your home, knowing what makes your neighborhood great can make a big difference.
A professional appraiser should research real estate prices, great schools or new parks in your area. But chances are, the appraiser is not from the area. If you really want to make your appraisal count, you could do your own homework and let your professional know all about the juicy details.
- Make sure your home is clean and ready for inspection
Decluttering and cleaning up your home can count a great deal towards a good first impression.
Although boosting the value of your home isn’t a manipulative process, a professional appraiser is human after all! You’d be surprised to know how many people don’t bother with this detail. But cleaning your house and getting rid of clutter will make your home look more welcoming and could help drive the price up.
- Some sprucing up can help you get a better appraisal
Are your curtains and wallpaper as old as your house? It may be time to spruce things up if you need to add more value to your home.
Repainting your walls or replacing leaky faucets can help. Making sure your home looks modern and well-kept can definitely help you score more points with your appraiser.
- Take care of all the necessary repairs
That broken air conditioner or faulty plumbing can easily drive the cost of your home in the wrong direction – down!
Make sure you take care of what needs to be fixed before the appraiser shows up at your door. Mind that, any issues that come up are usually estimated in $500 increments. If fixing a problem costs less, then do it. Otherwise, you risk driving your home’s value down by thousands.
- Showcase anything that might add value to your home
Is there anything that sets apart your home from others?
An appraiser doesn’t know your home the way you do. Since you’re the one living there for years, you should know what makes your home so great! Make sure to let the appraiser in on the “secret”. Anything that makes your home unique could help you increase your home’s valuation.
- Pay attention to your home’s exterior
A home appraisal isn’t all about the inside. Your home’s exterior can have an influence on the process as well.
Since the outside of your house is the first thing your appraiser will notice, make sure to make the exterior count. Trimming the shrubs and mowing your lawn is the least you can do to make a good first impression. If your home appraisal takes place in the winter, clear your driveway if it snows.
- Make sure your pets don’t bother the appraiser
If you’re a pet owner, you’re probably used to your pets being part of the ‘decor’. But you shouldn’t expect the appraiser to feel the same.
While they might be pet owners themselves, it’s just as likely they might be allergic. Avoid letting your pets play inside your house while the appraiser is there to evaluate its price.
- Document all improvements to your home
All improvements or important remodeling jobs should be documented.
Any upgrades, big or small, can have a positive impact on raising the value of your home. Any repairs to your cooling system, every upgrade such a new fireplace should be showcased. You don’t need to parade every single new doorknob you’ve replaced around the house, but letting the appraiser know you took initiative in making improvements should help you get a better appraisal.
- Create a welcoming atmosphere
Open your windows and let the warm sun come in. Set the right temperature if it’s winter, and cold outside.
You might think it’s silly, and these details won’t count. But creating the right atmosphere to welcome your appraiser into your house is just common sense. A clean home that smells fresh and looks nice can definitely set you apart from others who don’t bother even washing the dishes before receiving company.
What not to do when the appraiser comes to visit
Once you go through this home appraisal checklist, you should manage to drive your home’s value up. But there’s one little detail you shouldn’t overlook.
- Don’t nag the appraiser
There’s nothing worse than constant nagging.
When your home is being appraised, certain tips can definitely help. Letting the appraiser know all about what’s great in your neighborhood and showcasing your improvements and unique home features is a given. But avoid constant hovering and let the professionals do their job!
It’s important to be ready to answer the appraiser’s questions, just like it’s important to let them know all important details. Be careful though, not to chat their ears off. An attempt to make your property look good, not giving your appraiser enough space could do more damage than good.
Turning a scary home inspection into a pleasant experience for the appraiser can be easily done if you follow these 10 tips. You’d be surprised to find out how a welcoming environment can make the difference between a good appraisal and bad mortgage refinance deal.
Adriana is a freelance writer, and her favorite hobby is writing about personal finance.
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