How to Prepare for a Home Appraisal When Selling

June 15, 2017 | By Ron Molcho

How to Prepare for a Home Appraisal When Selling

As a home seller, you will most likely encounter a home appraiser at some point. You might even hire one yourself, to help you determine the current market value (and asking price) of your house. Or you might go through the process later on, when the buyer's mortgage lender sends an appraiser to visit. 

In either case, there are certain things you can do to prepare for the home appraisal process. You probably won't be able to add value to the house -- at least not on short notice. But you can give the appraiser a positive first impression, so he doesn't reduce the appraised value. 

How a Home Appraisal Works

If you want to know what your home is worth in the current market, a professional home appraisal is your best option. Sure, you can get a ballpark estimate from one of the many home-value websites online today. But these websites only account for recent sales data in your area. They don't know about, or consider, the improvements and upgrades you might have made to the home. After all, how could a website possibly know about such things?

If you want to get the best possible estimate on your home for pricing purposes, you should pay for an appraisal. Through this process, a licensed home appraiser will visit your house to evaluate it in person. He will do a room-by-room assessment of the home. He will look at the overall condition. He will account for upgrades to the property and the landscaping. Lastly, he will look at recent sales data for comparable homes in your area.

In the end, you'll be presented with an appraiser's report. You can use this document to help determine your asking price (if you're selling), or to determine how much equity you have (in the case of refinancing). Just bear in mind that if you do sell the home, the buyer's lender will have their own appraiser pay a visit as well. Still, it helps to do your own research ahead of time.

As for how to prepare for an appraisal, I can sum that up with one statement. Prepare the home like you would for a buyer's visit, and then don't sweat it. Many of the things on the appraiser's checklist are things you cannot change -- the size of the home, the location, the number of rooms, recent sales data, etc. You have no control over these factors. They are what they are. So you shouldn't worry about that side of things.

Instead, focus your attention on the things you can do to prepare for a home appraisal. In essence, these are the same things you should do when preparing the home to sell:

* Make any necessary repairs around the house.
* Update any outdated fixtures (but don't overspend in this area).
* Freshen up any paint that might be faded, chipped, etc.
* Do whatever you can to improve your curb appeal.

It's important to note that the items listed above won't add a lot of value to your home appraisal. They may help some, and every little bit helps. But more importantly, they will prevent the appraiser from entering your home with a negative mindset. When somebody is coming to put a value on your house, the last thing you want to do is give them a bad first impression. That's where the above list of items comes into play.

It's also important to tell the appraiser about any upgrades you've made to the house. This is critical, because it could increase the base appraised value of the home. This includes new flooring, decks, major landscaping additions, swimming pools, new cabinets or counters, etc.

If you have any questions regarding the sale of your house, call 718-981-3400 or email [email protected] for the best real estate advice in town.