Determining a price for your home can be stressful, especially if you don’t know how to prepare for an appraisal. If the home’s appraised value is too far from the listing price, it can make or break the deal. In addition, although appraisers are subject to strict regulations, much of their job is subjective, which means it’s crucial for your home to make a good impression on them. Here, Realtor.com offers five tips on how to present your home at its best.
1. Develop a critical eye
Go through your home with a critical eye and make yourself aware of any areas that need maintenance. This allows you to think like an appraiser and identify any factors that might negatively affect your home’s value. Make sure that all of the lights work, doors open and close properly, and there are no leaky sinks or running toilets. As you go through your home, make a list so that you can easily refer to it later.
2. Catch up on your home maintenance
Complete small projects, such as fixing squeaky doors and cleaning the gutters, on your own. For bigger jobs—like plumbing and electrical work—your best bet is to hire a certified professional. Although this might cost a bit more upfront, hiring a professional to do the work frees you of any liability and allows you to show an invoice as proof, if necessary. Remember, these should be smaller home-maintenance tasks, not big renovations. While giving a room a fresh coat of paint or adding some curb appeal is probably fine, it’s not the best idea to finish your basement right before an appraisal as there aren’t any guarantees on how much value projects like these will add to your home.
3. Compile a list of upgrades
A one-page highlight sheet documenting all of the upgrades that have been done to the home can be valuable because it allows an appraiser to see all the added value in your home at a single glance. Your best bet is to sit down—either with your agent or independently—and draw up a list of all the improvements that have been made to your home within the past decade. Be sure to include approximate dates, permits and warranties for these projects. In addition to aesthetic improvements, such as upgraded kitchens and bathrooms, be sure to include functional and structural improvements like a new roof or HVAC system.
4. Clean like there’s no tomorrow
Make sure your house is clean and free of clutter. This is the one and only chance the appraiser will get to view your home. Since his or her opinion of the home can actually make or break the sale, it’s crucial to ensure it’s a good one. Tackle the task in two parts: a deep clean of the home a few days before the appraisal and then a final sprucing up on the big day. When appraisal day arrives, you’ll want to make sure that everything is in its place. Make the bed, pick up any errant toys from kids and pets, and do the dishes. Although these factors technically aren’t included in the appraisal, they might subconsciously influence the appraiser’s opinion of your home, which can affect its determined value.
5. Ask your agent to get involved
The appraised value of your home is largely determined by how it compares with similar properties that have sold in your area within the past six months. Most agents will help appraisers with that research by providing them with comparable listings that justify the sale price. Unfortunately, just like everything else in the appraisal process, comps are subject to guidelines, as well as your appraiser’s individual opinion. Some are able to factor in transactions in progress, while others need to stick with settled properties.