3. Get ready for the appraisers’ visit
Appraisers are trained to see beyond clutter and dirty dishes in the sink. So don’t stress if your house isn’t immaculate. That said, a little sweat equity and a couple of weekends’ worth of work can help to improve your home’s appraised value.
If time allows, consider tackling the following items before the appraiser’s visit:
Make minor repairs
There’s a section on the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report, the standardized form that helps appraisers evaluate a property based on its characteristics, to note where a home has “needed repairs… renovations, or remodeling.” Even if you plan to do nothing about cosmetic eyesores, address any broken items or fixtures, such as a leaking toilet, cracked floors, or missing door handles, as well as any issues that could pose a danger — if possible.
“Take care of things like broken windows, chipped paint, safety hazards like loose stair railings and any FHA-stipulated items,” recommends Schuell. He says safety hazards that haven’t been repaired can raise red flags for an appraiser who might walk out and ask you to reschedule when the problems have been fixed.
Review HomeLight’s list of required appraisal repairs for additional guidance.
Improve curb appeal
A recent survey of top HomeLight agents found that buyers will pay 7% more for a house with great curb appeal. In fact, agents estimate that clients can yield an ROI of 238% for investing an average of $3,467 on curb appeal projects, including:
- Attend to basic yard care (cut grass, weed control, fertilization)
- Spread three cubic yards of bark mulch (including delivery)
- Tidy the landscaping (shrubs, walkway, and flower beds)
You can’t necessarily put a price on curb appeal through quantitative appraisal methods, but appraisers do take it into account qualitatively when reconciling that final value.
Got time? Invest in high-ROI projects
If you’re getting an appraisal with the goal of selling your home down the line, you may want to think about upgrades that will add substantial appraised value to your property. An example Grichine suggests to sellers in warmer climates is air conditioning.
“In an area like Palm Springs, lack of air conditioning will hurt marketability,” he shares.
And if your home hasn’t had a makeover since the Clinton administration, consider a new look: countertops, flooring, and cabinets are all things you can spruce up for a high ROI. Review HomeLight’s guide to 25 high-ROI home upgrades for more ideas.
4. Gather relevant documents
You’ve refreshed your home, made essential repairs, and scheduled an appointment with your appraiser. Now it’s time to gather key documents that will help the appraiser come up with an accurate assessment of your property’s value. Be sure to have documentation of all home improvements made to the property over the past 10-15 years on hand, including remodels, upgrades, and new additions.
If you’re ambitious enough to do your own house comps research, feel free to share your findings with the appraiser. Just make sure the comps you select are similar in size, location, and characteristics to your own home.
5. Make final preparations for the onsite visit
It’s a few days before the appraiser’s visit (or the day of, if you’re a last-minute kind-of-person). Be sure to handle the following tasks before they show up:
Deep clean and declutter
As we stressed earlier, appraisers aren’t going to mark you down for a messy space. But it’s still wise to spend a few hours deep-cleaning and decluttering the house, particularly the visible portions like floors and countertops. Vacuum, give kitchens and bathrooms a once over, and wipe surfaces of any dust and grime. This step is especially important if you haven’t regularly lived in the property over the past few months.
Provide easy access to all areas of the home
It’s not uncommon for residents to block entry to a basement or attic, especially if children or pets are present, but every room of the house should be easily accessible. Make sure the appraiser can move around, take measurements and photos, and check off all of the details with ease.
Secure or remove pets
Keep pets out of the way — put cats in a carrier and either crate dogs or take them out for a walk. Always let the appraiser know that they’ll be entering a house with a pet, says Grichine, adding that he likes dogs, but appreciates a warning.
Feel free to stay
Homeowners are welcome to be home for the appraisal and make sure the appraiser has access to what they need. It can be helpful to have someone there to answer questions or fill in information gaps, though you don’t need to follow the appraiser around the house.
Chatting up a storm could also cause the appraisal process to take longer than it needs to, and you don’t want to overwhelm the appraiser with a hard sell of what you believe your home to be worth.
If you’re represented by a real estate agent, it’s custom for the agent to attend the appraisal and optional for the seller to do so. An agent will have more experience in these scenarios and can assist. If no one can attend the onsite visit, then be sure to leave your list of upgrades and any other relevant materials in a visible place.
6. Pay the appraisal fee
The price of a full appraisal varies according to location, but you can generally expect to pay between $313-$422. For example, according to data from the World Population Review, appraisals generally cost more in the Pacific Northwest (or really, anywhere out West) compared to the South. Some of the most expensive markets to get an appraisal include:
- New Mexico ($420)
- Oregon ($410)
- Washington ($410)
- Louisiana ($405)
- Idaho ($395)
Typically, a home appraisal fee covers:
- The appraiser’s expertise
- The onsite home inspection, which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours
- The appraiser’s analysis of recent comparable sales (or application of other appraisal methods, such as the cost approach or income method)
- The appraisal report, summarizing how the appraiser arrived at an independent opinion of value
- Any management fees that might be associated with procuring the appraisal
7. Review the appraisal report
If a client is working with an agent, the appraisal and report will usually go directly to them rather than the homeowner, says Grichine, adding that customers rarely look at his actual report.
If you are the one to receive the report, the appraised value of your home will likely be listed in a section labeled “Reconciliation,” on the appraisal report. Look for the bolded text that reads:
“Based on a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior areas of the subject property, defined scope of the work, statement of assumptions and limiting conditions, and appraiser’s certification, my (our) opinion of the market value, as defined, of the real property that is the subject of this report is $_______, as of ________, which is the date of inspection and the effective date of this appraisal.”
It’s there (circled in red below) that you’ll find what the appraiser has determined your home to be worth.
Your appraisal is complete – what’s next?
You’ve reviewed your appraisal report, and you’re a happy camper. Or maybe you’re not. Read on to learn what happens after appraisal completion.
You are satisfied with the appraisal
In this situation, you’re pleased with the dollar value the appraiser came up with for your home. This doesn’t always mean that the number meets or exceeds your expectations — in some instances, the client wants the dollar figure to be low, says Grichine. For example, if the assessment was done primarily to determine taxes on the property, the client will want a lower figure, he says.