1. Begin with your home’s curb appeal
Before your appraiser arrives, some easy ideas to improve your home’s exterior include laying new mulch, planting fresh flowers, mowing your lawn, raking the leaves, trimming overgrown bushes, and clearing sidewalks and driveways to create a safe and clean appearance. From there, you can move on to more extensive curb appeal projects, such as touching up the outside paint to make your home’s exterior features stand out. The goal is to convey to the appraiser that your home is as well maintained on the exterior as it is on the interior.
2. Declutter your home
We understand that you live there, and it doesn’t bother us if it’s cluttered; however, it does show better and the photos turn out better. Some key areas that should be decluttered are the bedroom, kitchen, and living room since these areas are the most used in the home.
The Kitchen: Keep the sink clear of dishes and ensure they’re put away the day of your appraisal. You can also move seldom-used appliances off the countertops to give your kitchen the appearance of a larger space.
The Living Room: Keep surfaces clear of stacks of magazines, books, or newspapers. Paring down extra pillows and blankets can also give your space a minimal and streamlined appearance.
The Bedroom: Make sure clothing is off the floor and properly stored away in closets or drawers. Consider donating any unused or old clothing items to a local thrift store or shelter.
3. Clean your home thoroughly
Don’t go crazy here but make sure the home looks and smells clean. When an appraiser comes to your home, they are not going to do the white glove test, but it can go a long way if the appraiser doesn’t feel like they are going to catch something. So vacuum, mop, dust off the cobwebs, spray some, plug in your glad scent, and clean your toilets, and you should be good.
4. Make minor repairs
Painting a scuffed-up wall or repairing a hole in the sheetrock can go a long way. If your home has too many deferred maintenance items, then it starts to affect your overall condition which will hurt your value.
5. Take care of water stains and organic growth
If you have a roof leak or a water leak causing organic growth or staining, get a professional to take care of it. If found during the time of inspection, the appraiser will have to note it in the appraisal, which could cause the loan to fall through, or, at a minimum, a reduction in value.
6. Certain types of appraisals require escalated inspections, so make sure that all utilities (water, electricity, and HVAC systems) are functioning properly.
7. Have a list of your home improvements ready
The appraiser should notice most of your improvements, however, sometimes things may not be so clear. Be proactive and compile a list of home improvements that have been done, such as adding a new kitchen, HVAC system, or finishing your basement. Then provide this list to the appraiser with any supporting documentation – like receipts or invoices – to show when you’ve made these upgrades. This will help the appraiser see the extra value you have added to the home, and it just may help them justify their final appraised value of the property.
8. Create a welcoming environment
While an appraiser’s job is to be as objective as possible, creating a welcoming environment is important for making a good first impression. Light and bright spaces are more inviting so bring in as much natural light as possible by opening up any blinds or curtains and make sure to keep the lights on throughout your home. Add soft touches to the interior with pillows or blankets to add a look of comfort, and set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Incorporating these simple tips as you prepare for a home appraisal will make the appraiser’s visit more pleasant.
9. Look at real estate comps in your area
If you know about a recent sale in your community or in the immediate area let the appraiser know about it. Chances are he will find it while doing research of the area, but no reason to leave it up to chance. Also, if you know a home is a distressed sale it can’t hurt to let the appraiser know. It may still be a good comparable; it really just depends on the circumstances and how it is marketed.
Preparing for a home appraisal can be stressful, but once you know what to expect you will be fine. Many items can be done ahead of the appraisal to make the process go smoothly, and you’ll want to take the extra time to ensure your home is seen in the best light. Make sure your home’s interior looks as good as the exterior and that all appliances and systems are in good working order. Spend some time decluttering and sprucing up your home with minor repairs, and be sure to have any information you’d like the appraiser to know ready and available for when they arrive.