A home appraisal is an unbiased evaluation of your home’s value. You might think your house is priceless, but an appraiser can look at the state of your home and objectively tell you what it is worth.
There are several reasons why a homeowner would need an appraisal. They might want to refinance their mortgage or want an appraisal before they decide to sell their home. If you recently inherited a property, you might get an appraisal to understand the value of your asset to decide what to do with it.
Appraisals can get expensive. You can expect to pay between $300 to $500 for a standard appraisal on your home.
Fortunately, there are ways to seek out free and affordable appraisals on your home. Learn how to get a home appraisal for free so you can move forward with a clear view of your home’s value.
What is a Home Appraisal?
A home appraisal requires a third-party individual to look at your home and determine a price for what it is worth on the current market.
Most home appraisals start with research before the inspector even visits your home. They will look at the historic value of your house and current market factors that could impact its price.
The appraiser will also look at comparative houses (based on the square footage and number of beds/baths) that were sold recently in your area.
However, the appraiser needs to visit your house to get a definitive value for the property. Unexpected factors like curb appeal, new appliances, cleanliness, an updated HVAC system and water heater, and even a new roof can impact the value of your home.
If you continuously invested in your house over the years and kept up with repairs and upgrades, the appraiser might leave the property with a higher home value estimate than when they arrived.
After your home visit, you will receive an up-to-date appraisal of your property values that you can send to mortgage companies or use to set an appropriate listing for your home sale.
Ways to Obtain a Free or Low-Cost Home Appraisal
If you are on the fence about getting your home appraised, know that it is possible to get a cheap home appraisal without much work.
In some cases, your real estate agent or mortgage lender might help with the cost, especially if an appraisal is required.
Here are a few ways how you can get a house appraised for free – or for a significantly reduced price.
Online Home Value Estimators
There are formal and informal home appraisal options to look into.
Some people just want a basic understanding of their home values before moving forward with financial decisions.
One of the best ways to get a basic free home appraisal is to use an online home value estimator. These online tools look at comparable homes in your area and various property details to provide a ballpark estimate.
Here are a few places to start:
Most lenders won’t accept free online estimates as formal appraisals. However, this is a good starting point in the appraisal process.
Seek Appraisal Services During Promotions
Appraisers run private businesses and rely on consumer demand to stay busy. There might be some seasons when it is hard to find an available real estate appraiser and other times when appraisal companies run discounts and promotions to lure customers. Finding these deals is a great way to get a cheap appraisal.
Start by running a Google search for “cheap home appraisal near me” or similar terms related to discounted home appraisals.
Look at the pricing of different companies and call to confirm the final costs. A little bit of effort could help you save $50 to $100 on your appraisal costs.
Inquire with Real Estate Agents
If this is your first time seeking a home value estimate, you might not know who to work for and what costs to expect. Reach out to a trusted real estate agent to see if they can recommend any appraisers in your area.
If you plan to sell your house, you will need to reach out to local real estate agents anyway. Talking about appraisals and home values could be a good step in the interview process to find the right one.
Ask your real estate agent if they can offer a free land appraisal as part of their service package or if they have a partnership with any appraisers in the area.
Use Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)
A comparative market analysis is an informal appraisal that your local real estate agent will conduct in order to understand your property value.
The Realtor will look at the local market to estimate what your house should sell for and then consider the state of your home to understand its current value.
Asking your Realtor to run a CMA is a good option if you want to sell your home and don’t need to get a formal appraisal – plus this process is free for you. You can also run a basic CMA by looking at neighborhood comps.
Compare your total square footage with other home sellers in your area and what they are listing their properties for.
Consider other factors that affect the overall value (like amenities and upgrades). This will give you a general idea of local home values before you even talk to an agent.
Negotiate with Lenders
If you are required to get a home appraisal to refinance your mortgage, you might be able to work with lenders to cover the cost.
However, this depends on the market. If the lender has piles of applications to sort through, they might not be willing to dedicate extra resources to winning your business.
However, if demand for home loans drops, your lender might be willing to cover the cost of the home appraisal in order to help the refinancing process.
Talk to different mortgage lenders before refinancing or taking out a home equity loan to make sure you get the best interest rates, monthly payments, and perks (like a free home appraisal) possible.
Tips for a Successful Appraisal Process
Learning how to get a free home appraisal is only the first step in this princess. You also want to increase the chances that the licensed appraiser will offer a high home value for your property.
While there are some things you can’t change (like the current state of the real estate market) you can increase the chances of a good showing through the following steps:
- Improve your curb appeal: it’s worth the effort to mow the lawn, trim back trees, and pressure wash your driveway to create a good first impression ahead of a home appraisal.
- Clean the house: cleanliness might not directly affect your home value, but a clean home can make your space seem bigger and newer.
- Make repairs and upgrades: new appliances, basic repairs, floor upgrades and other small improvements can add up in an appraisal. Plus, these upgrades are often affordable for homeowners.
You can decide how much effort you want to put into your property ahead of a home appraisal.
Make sure you also communicate with the appraisers. If you have a brand new water heater, make sure they know about it, otherwise, they might not factor that asset into the value of the home. The appraiser needs the most up-to-date information possible to draft an accurate home estimate.
Potential Drawbacks and Considerations
While free home appraisals are valuable if they come through your Realtor or mortgage lender, there are some drawbacks to choosing this option.
First, an online tool might not provide the most accurate estimate of your home values. These tools look at nearby home values and public records to draft estimates.
They rely on user-submitted data which could be inaccurate or subjective. Take this information as a rough estimate, not a firm appraisal.
Next, be careful if someone offers a free home appraisal without your solicitation. This person or company should be able to share their licensing information and have online reviews for you to check.
Keep an eye out for scammers who want to charge fees after the appraisal or who just want to get inside your home.
If you need a clear and reliable home value report, it might be in your best interest to hire an appraiser who is trusted in your area. This could be the safest option to discover your property’s worth.
Hire a Real Estate Agent for an Accurate Home Value Estimate
Whether you are selling your home this month or simply refinancing, it is possible to find affordable home appraisal options. The first step is to find trusted real estate professionals in your area who can help you can an informed estimate on your property.
Once you have a clear picture of your home value, you can make strategic decisions that improve your finances.
Find top real estate agents in your area through FastExpert. You can look through profiles and choose the best Realtor for your specific needs. You can even check out their recent sales and find agents who have sold comparable properties in today’s market.
Try our services today and see how we can improve the home sale process.