Lowball appraisals can kill deals. There are ways to keep your home’s look, feel and condition as updated and cared for as possible. When an appraisal of your property is scheduled, don’t wait until the last minute to get everything in order for the appraiser. Here are some important tips to help you and the appraiser be able to come in with the highest appraisal on the property.

  1.   Spruce up the house. Most appraisers will tell you that you don’t need to deep clean under the couches and that a few dirty dishes wont hurt your home’s value. But cleaning up the place is your responsibility and your duty too. Rats, mice, cockroaches and the broken down car you have been trying to overhaul might. Overgrown lawns and plants, soiled and dirty carpeting, marks on the walls all do affect value and are part of the property’s overall condition rating.
  2.  Curb appeal matters too. The lawns , front and back should be green and mowed. Get rid of the weeds in the planters and trim hedges and overgrown trees and shrubs. Lenders are looking at the conditions of properties more than ever. Dont forget the appraiser is going to photograph your property and also the comps in the neighborhood that he decides to use. You want your property to look it’s very best.
  3.  Make a list of all improvements and updates you have made. Also, make a sketch plan of your house indicating the square footage, for the appraiser. The list of updates should cover the past 15 years. Itemize each update or improvement with the approximate date and approximate cost. Highlight any notable features of the property. Make sure the appraiser is aware of any improvement that has been done like a new roof or insulation, etc. Don’t forget the little items. Sinks, water heaters, tub sealing, etc.
  4. Have some reasonable comps on hand for the appraiser. This is his job, but if you have updated comps it save him time. If a property has recently sold in the neighborhood without the help of a real estate agent, it may not have been on the MLS listings and the appraiser may never know about it, or will get the info too late to use.
  5. Take care of any peeling paint. Loans insured by the government agencies like the Federal Housing Administration, or the VA, will require peeling paint to be removed in houses built before 1978.
  6.  Focus, Focus, Focus. Don’t spend money that wont yield a return on the investment. The best expenditures for most markets are paint, carpet, electric and plumbing fixtures. If you are a homeowner who has always upgraded and fixed items as they broke, you will be fine.
  7. Location still matters. If there has been some good changes in the neighborhood, let the appraiser know it. Maybe a new playground has gone in, or a new Whole Foods Market or?If the area has been declared a historic or landmark district, let the appraiser know it.
  8. Appraisers often value houses in $500 increments, so if there is a repair costing more than $500 that can or should be made, it will count against the property. Fix leaky faucets, any busted screens, cracked windows, missing handrails and any structural damage.
  9.  Remember the concept of “effective age,” the age the appraiser can assign to the home after taking into consideration all updating and the condition. Lets say you have a cracked window, worn carpeting, tiles falling off in the shower stall, vinyl torn in the laundry room and the dog ate the corner of the fireplace hearth. These items could still add up to an overall average condition rating as the home is still habitable. However, your effective age will be higher, resulting in com parables being utilized which will have the same effective age and resulting lower value.
  10. Lock up Fido. Appraisers get annoyed by homeowners following them around during the appraisal process, and more annoyed by a growling dog. Along the same lines, make the appraiser comfortable as possible. If it is hot outside, turn on the A/C. If it is cold outside, turn on the heater.  It is good to turn both on anyway so he knows they both work.

    Let the appraiser do his job. Don’t ask questions or bother the appraiser with jibber jabber. He might miss something that would help make the appraisal better. Save your comments and questions until after the appraiser is finished.

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