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family getting ready for home appraisal

10 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Home for Appraisal

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So you’ve decided to put your home up for sale or refinance your mortgage. You’re ready to move onto better things and save money, and you want to fetch the best possible price for your home. After all, you have been living in it, and have enjoyed the charming features of it first-hand. You know how great it is. But does everyone else?

When you list your home for sale, you’ll first want to have it appraised so you can truly determine its worth. A licensed professional will complete the appraisal by determining the value of your home in an open market. Most refinance products require your home to be appraised, and if you’re selling your home, it’s also a good idea to get one. Obviously, you’d like for your appraisal to be the highest it can be. The more money your home is appraised for, the more money you’ll fetch when you sell it or refinance it.

There’s no need to stress when preparing your home for appraisal. By preparing for the appraisal ahead of time, you’ll have a better chance of getting favorable results. After all, you want the most money for your home, right? Here are ten simple ways to be sure that you get the best appraisal possible so you can enjoy all of the hard work you’ve put into your home.

1. Be sure to have any safety equipment installed and working properly. These include smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and home security alarms, among other things.

2. Walk around your home before the appraisal with a critical eye. Look for any damage that could decrease your home’s value. Are there loose floor boards? Does the roof leak? Do the gutters work properly? These things don’t just help the home look better—they also show that the owner has up kept the house properly.

3. Inform your home appraiser of any home improvements you have done on your home. Be sure to tell your appraiser about any improvements you’ve made in your home. New additions, replaced HVAC units, siding, gutters, a new roof, remodeled kitchens and updated bathrooms will all positively reflect on your appraisal.

4. Do some sprucing up. Repaint the walls and hang new curtains. Install shiny new doorknobs or faucets. Small things don’t add a lot in an appraisal, but they add up—and they also give the entire home the appearance of being modern and updated. Outdated décor can have a negative impact on an appraisal, while a more modern appearance can have a positive impact.

5. Do some research on other homes in the neighborhood. What is the value of homes similar to yours in your neighborhood? What about the sales prices of homes sold in your area in recent months? What problems may have been encountered during their appraisals? Many of these items are public record, but if you’re comfortable, feel free to speak with your neighbors about it. They may be able to help you hit some common problems off at the pass if they’ve recently undergone an appraisal.

6. Clean your heart out. Wash down the walls and shampoo the carpet. Clear out the clutter. Power wash decks, driveways and the exterior of your home. A clean home looks newer and more attractive to appraisers and buyers alike.

7. Pay attention to your yard. Mow your grass and trim your trees and shrubbery. Consider having dead trees removed, if possible, before your appraisal. Add some color with flowers, and in the winter, be sure to clear all ice and snow from walkways and driveways. Remove clutter from both the front and backyards, including stray toys, bicycles, and lawn furniture. Be sure to thoroughly weed flowerbeds and add mulch where applicable. Houses with high curb appeal receive better appraisals, hands down.

8. Update the materials in your home. Update old countertops, paint cupboards or reface them and replace old flooring, if you can. Outdated prints and linoleum flooring look dated. You’d be surprised how inexpensive flooring can be to replace, especially if you do it yourself. Laminate flooring and tile will refresh a room, as will updating countertops, even if you simply add in laminate counters. Keep the looks neutral and adaptable, yet modern. Classic is always a great bet, as it is timeless.

9. Mind the $500 rule. Things that need to be corrected or are out of date—things like damaged tile floors, old wallpaper, a broken door, or an outdated bathroom vanity—usually take hits in $500 increments. As a general rule, it is safe to assume that small issues will take $500 hits in the total home value. If the appraiser finds several of these problem issues, the result can be thousands in lost home value. As a rule of thumb, fix problems immediately that would cost less than $500 to fix. This way you will recover that cost in your appraisal.

10. Look beyond your house to the surrounding area. Are there new schools, parks, highway ramps, stores or other public amenities that have been added since you bought the house? Point these out to your appraiser. They may not be totally familiar with the area, and amenities such as these can add even more value to your home. Be sure to tell the appraiser about them.