(**) Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning our website, RealEstateCareerHQ.com, will get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, but at no additional cost to you.
All homeowners want their house to sell at a higher price. Although they cannot alter the permanent features about the property (i.e., age, location, square footage, lot size), there are many things a homeowner could do to improve the perspective an appraiser have on their home.
So what are some tips when it comes to Home Appraisal?
You might get this kind of questions from your referral partners such as realtors, mortgage brokers or other professionals in the real estate industry. Although your real estate appraisal work needs to be independent, there are some helpful tips that you could share with them.
If your referral partners could help their clients to get better prepared for an appraisal, not only it would make your job easier, it would also strengthen your long-term relationship with them.
So I discussed with multiple Certified Residential Appraisers across different states and asked them what are the things a homeowner could do to enhance an appraisal outcome. I summarized their responses and came up with this Home Appraisal Checklist.
Let’s grab your coffee and start now!
- 1) Maintain a Good Exterior Outlook
- 2) Secure Handrail and Steps
- 3) Tidy the House
- 4) Repaint the Walls
- 5) Fix any Water Problems
- 6) Bathroom Ventilation
- 7) Floor Appearance
- 8) Lighting
- 9) Examine the Windows
- 10) Electricity and Home Appliances
- 11) Provide Documents of Home Improvement or Fixture
- 12) Restrain your Pet
- 13) Pests and Termites Control
- 14) Don’t Forget the Garage
- 15) Maintain Your Backyard
- 16) Appropriate Temperature
- 17) Provide Relevant Comparables
- The Bottom Line
1) Maintain a Good Exterior Outlook
When an appraiser arrives at a property, their first impression would be the exterior appearance of a house.
Make sure to mow the lawn, remove weeds, dead flowers and place wood mulch around trees.
If your lawn’s condition cannot be improved before the appraiser comes, then consider putting a new layer of grass on top.
2) Secure Handrail and Steps
A loose handrail and steps do not only discount the appraiser’s evaluation, but they also could impose a hazard which could become a liability issue for the homeowners.
Every now and then, I came across stairway to a basement which are lack of proper handrail. So be sure to comply with the housing code in your municipality.
3) Tidy the House
Don’t make the appraiser plays obstacle courses when they are walking around your house.
You should store all your children’s toys neatly into a shelf, put away your clothing into a drawer or hang them properly, and do not just leave the dirty dishes in the kitchen table or sink.
4) Repaint the Walls
Regardless of how well you tried to maintain the walls, if you have been in the house long enough, it is inevitable that paint would be peeling off due to accidental scratches or the humidity level in your house.
A layer of paint could bring a fresh new look to your house. However, try to stay away from colors that are too unique. Instead, go with colors that are more natural.
Your ultimate goal is to demonstrate to the appraiser that your property is marketable and not to present your artistic sense.
Furthermore, fix all the holes and cracks on the walls. If there are nails on the walls that are no longer being used, remove them and paint it over.
5) Fix any Water Problems
Water issue is a big concern for many people as it could lead to a severe, hidden long-run problem. To address this problem, you should do the following:
- Tighten any dripping facet or reinstall a new one if the problem persists
- If rainwater often flow back into the house, you need to:
- extend the draining pipe further away from the house;
- do some landscaping so that the water could flow outward from the property
- seal the cracks where the water is coming in
- Paint over any walls or ceiling with previous water stain
- Replace filter so that the water is drinkable
- Ensure there is no clogged in the kitchen or bathroom sink, and the toilets.
6) Bathroom Ventilation
This is one item many homeowners forget to take notice. However, I had an experience during a home showing where the bathroom ventilation was so loud as if it were going to explode anytime.
Sometimes, the fan within the unit is cluttered with too much dust. A simple wipe with a cloth, or vacuum could do the job.
7) Floor Appearance
There is no doubt that you should clean the floor to give a pleasant feeling to the appraiser.
But there could also be scratches which could make it look unappealing. If you have hardwood floors, you might be able to color the scratches to make it less noticeable.
Alternatively, you could place a carpet over the visible spot.
Furthermore, if the floor has squeaky noise whenever someone steps on it, then you might need a contractor to tighten the problem area.
A property with good lighting not only make it easier for the appraiser to inspect your property, but it would also make it more appealing.
Before the appraiser arrives, open up all the window drapes and turn on lights in every room.
Don’t forget to replace any dead light bolts.
9) Examine the Windows
Clean off all the dust on your windows. You don’t want the appraiser to have a foggy feeling when looking out the window.
Also, no one wants a property that consistently leaks out energy. If there are any spots that leakage area in your windows, be sure to seal it properly.
The exterior window frame tends to be the part that get rotten easily because it is always exposed to sunlight, rain and condensation moisture.
You should scrape off the loose parts, flatten the surface with sandpaper, and apply a layer of paint on it.
10) Electricity and Home Appliances
Make sure all switches are working properly. One appraiser that I talked to said that he would look at whether the switches in the kitchen and bathrooms are GFCI receptacles. This is due to safety issues.
Huge ticket items such as AC system, water heater, and the furnace are often the first thing to be reviewed. After all, it does cost significant to get a new one.
If they are not functioning, you should get a professional to repair it. Most contractors would leave a sticker with their contact info on the units.
But try to do those repairs in advance, as it could take weeks to schedule an maintenance appointment with a qualified electrician.
11) Provide Documents of Home Improvement or Fixture
This is one of the most helpful things to make the appraiser’s job easier. If you have any home improvement or upgrades which could extend its lifespan of usage, then you could let the appraiser know about it. (i.e., roof shingles, energy efficient windows, driveway, furnace, water heater, air condition)
You should document the cost of each and when the improvement was made.
The appraiser might request for receipts or some sort of proving documents, so you better be prepared to show them during the inspection.
12) Restrain your Pet
As much as you may think your pet is cute, not everyone is a pet lover. The last thing you want to end up is making the appraiser uncomfortable.
Sometimes a dog could get really excited or alert when a stranger enters your house. This could be a distraction or even frightened the appraiser. It is important you put it on a leash and settle the dog in a separate room.
As for cat owners, you might want to put them into the pet cage first. Doors could get left open during the inspections, and you don’t want your cat to run out of your house.
13) Pests and Termites Control
Regardless of how beautiful your house, if there is pests or termites problem, it would immediately make it very undesirable for anyone to live within.
Ant and bee nests, mouses, raccoons under the deck of your backyard, they all could be a major deal breaker.
If your home has such a problem, you must hire a professional to handle it before the appraiser.
14) Don’t Forget the Garage
This is one area many homeowners often neglect. If there are too many unwanted items (i.e., flat tires, unused bicycles, old computers), then you should declutter them.
Make sure the garage door is opening and closing properly. If there is any rusted spot, then applying a rust converter, and painting it over could give a fresh new look.
Some garages have an entrance directly attached to the house. The housing code in some regions might require that the entrance door have a spring such that it would close off itself.
So be sure to comply with the rules in your local area.
15) Maintain Your Backyard
Once again, you should mow the lawn and remove weeds. Tidy up the backyard, and store all your gardening equipment back into the shed.
Remove all the peeling paint on the wooden deck and fences, then stain and seal it if necessary.
If you have a swimming pool, you should consider covering it properly.
16) Appropriate Temperature
If you live in an area where there would be extreme hotness or coldness, then you better adjust the room temperature to a reasonable degree ahead of time.
This might not be a big problem if there are still people living in the house. But for a vacant unit, it is quite common that homeowners could forget to adjust it.
It could lead to unnecessary suspicion from the appraiser whether the air condition unit or the central heater is functioning properly.
If your realtor is the one who handles the appraiser’s appointment, then you should remind them about this.
17) Provide Relevant Comparables
Don’t automatically assume every appraiser would know the neighborhood as good as you are.
If you have comparables that could be helpful to the appraiser, you may ask the real estate agent to provide to them. Some realtors may be hesitate in providing any information as they believe that they cannot interact with the appraiser. However, this is purely a misunderstanding.
According to an article from the National Association of Realtors,
“In reality, qualified and competent appraisers welcome any information that helps them do their job. In fact, we at The Appraisal Foundation encourage brokers to actively communicate with appraisers in a professional and productive manner. Real estate professionals should feel empowered to supply relevant materials, including the terms of the sale, applicable comparable sales, and any evidence of notable renovations done to a home that might affect its value”
National Association of Realtors- Dos and Don’ts of Appraiser Communication
But keep in mind that you and your realtor should not influence the decision of the appraiser. You are merely providing relevant information for their reference.
The Bottom Line
Although homeowners do not have control of what is located in their neighborhood, the property age and size, there are many preparations they could do to make their property more pleasant for the real estate appraiser.
Besides an appraisal report would include photos of the subject property, where the underwriter of an lending institution would see, who is the ultimate decision maker of whether a mortgage loan would be approved or not. (Here’s an article which explains “Why do appraisers take photo?“)
I do not recommend doing any major upgrade before an appraisal. For instance, changing the kitchen’s counter-top or redo the flooring of an entire house. After all, everyone’s preference could be different.
Therefore, a huge budget on home improvement could be unnecessary in most instances. Rather, homeowners should work on the cosmetic fixtures because they are highly visible and often can be done with just a small budget.
Do you find this article helpful? If so, feel free to share this with your referral partners!
Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general information only, and not intend to provide any advice. They are subjected to change any notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free. For full and exact details, please contact the relevant professional or the Regulatory Board in your state.