Our home appraisal checklist: getting your house in order
Home appraisals and inspections can be a particularly worrisome part of the home-selling process. It can help to have an appraisal preparation checklist to feel organized and ensure everything gets done. After all, someone you don’t know is showing up to assess your entire house and property, and what he or she decides upon examining the space could impact the amount of money the buyer can borrow to purchase the home -- which can impact whether you can sell it to that person. You should do all you can to cut back on the stress.
How can you prepare for the home appraisal to put your house and property in the best light and to make sure it’s within range of your home valuation? Put these seven simple steps on your handy home appraisal checklist and follow them rigorously to help ensure you sell your home as fast as possible.
Home appraisal checklist
- Put together a brag sheet
- Boost your curb appeal
- Don’t waste time upgrading movable objects
- Declutter your space
- Don’t be afraid to get help
- Make the appraiser’s visit enjoyable
- Ask to see the appraisal
Put together a brag sheet
List all of the improvements you’ve made since buying the home. Major installations and upgrades can be as large as adding a room or a new roof, but make sure to include smaller ones as well, such as improved plumbing and a new sliding glass door. Don’t forget to include the date of the changes and the cost of each one. Also, if you plan to make more improvements before the sale, note the estimated date and cost of those too.
Beyond the improvements you’ve made, it can’t hurt to supply other relevant paperwork -- such as the home’s most recent tax receipt -- to ensure the appraiser is working with the most up-to-date information.
Boost your curb appeal
The appraiser will first see the outside of your house, which includes not only your roof, gutters and siding but your lawn, driveway and other amenities. Plant flowers, add bushes or address other landscaping upgrades to improve your curb appeal. Haven’t fixed the broken garage window since the baseball tossed from the front lawn shattered it? Change it before the appraiser arrives. Though the value of curb appeal is hard to assess, just like a good first impression, studies show that an attractive exterior will influence people’s interpretation of your property. And that could easily boost its value.
Don’t waste time upgrading movable objects
Amid decisions on improvements, assess which ones are worth doing. For example, buying a new microwave or installing new drapes won’t help improve your home’s value because they’re considered personal property -- items you will likely take with you during a move. Think of it this way: If it’s not nailed down, it’s considered to be your property.
Declutter your space
Though in theory, a messy home overrun with stray toys and strewn clothes will not affect an appraisal, your home will show better with fewer items. Clean up everything you can as you stage your home, and those items you will not be taking with you to your new home, either throw out or give to charity.
Don’t be afraid to get help
There are two professionals with trained eyes who can help you prepare for an appraisal:
- Real Estate Agent: A real estate agent can assess how your home stacks up to the competition in your marketplace. Further, he or she can explain what you need to address to highlight the positives and diminish the negatives. Pick someone who has a long track record in your community.
- Home Inspector: A home inspector will look for items that might have been repaired over the years but unfortunately did not meet local codes. A home inspector can eliminate big surprises.
Make the appraiser’s visit enjoyable
Appraisers are human too. Make sure the temperature in the house is comfortable. Offer him or her a beverage. Though the appraiser is a neutral third party, he or she will welcome kindnesses during the home appraisal.
Ask to see the appraisal
Mistakes can be made on an appraisal, even on something as simple as square footage. If your home is compared against one in foreclosure, that will unnecessarily hurt its value. These are mistakes you can catch before the appraisal gets too far down the line, so make sure to ask the lender or the buyer to look at the appraisal once it has been completed.
Of course, there are factors out of your control that can hurt a home appraisal. Comparable sales in your neighborhood may be impacted by divorce, sellers moving to a new town for a job and other factors can cause homeowners to take a lower-than-expected bid. But the good news is there are plenty of items the seller can control, including getting an accurate appraisal in under 48 hours.
*Single-Family Homes in Residential Zones only: No accessory units or out buildings with considerable value; Some Rural, Coastal, and properties with excessive acreage may not qualify for Appraisal Express; Project must be previously approved for FHA; The market will dictate property complexity and comparable availability. Co-Ops and Multi-Family homes are not available at this time. Restrictions apply.
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