An appraisal is just part of selling or refinancing your house. Yes, the appraiser will walk through your home and property, passing judgment, and this may sound stressful. But this person provides valuable information, the fair market value of your house, so that you can set a listing price that works for you and for the market you’re in.
Some of your home’s value depends on the local market and the sale prices of homes in your area. Some of it depends on your appraiser’s educated opinion, and the good news is that you can take steps to make a good impression on appraisal day.
- First, tidy up. There should be no visible laundry, dirty dishes, piles of toys on the floor, or overflowing wastebaskets.
- Avoid commotion and noise during the appraisal. It’s a day for small kids and pets to visit friends.
- The appraiser looks at the whole property, so make sure you have five-star curb appeal. Mow, rake, weed, mulch, and repair anything, like a gate or trellis, that leans sideways but shouldn’t.
- Freshen your exterior where it needs some TLC. Power wash walls, touch up paint and/or trim color, and patch any roof damage.
- Fix plumbing that leaks or makes strange noises.
- Touch up interior paint, especially in those wear-and-tear zones. If you’ve been meaning to paint a room or two, now is the time: go with a warm, neutral color.
- Make obvious repairs that you know about and just put off, like broken steps, cracked panes, or loose cabinet hinges.
- Declutter and clean. Clear surfaces, floors, and storage spaces of any messy stuff. And then give the whole house a good, thorough cleaning. The appraiser isn’t officially considering clutter and dust, but every way you can make the house look well maintained is a plus.
- Add to the good impression by being courteous, pleasant, and accommodating. Treat the appraiser the way you’d treat a potential buyer, and offer a positive experience of your home.
- Have the documents the appraiser might need ready: a hard copy of the complete offer, floor plans, surveys, deeds, a list of all upgrades with their dates and costs, the property’s sale history, and comparable local market prices, including explanations for bad ones that shouldn’t affect your appraisal.
Top real estate agents are a good source of advice and tips on anything else to do before the appraisal. Investing some time and resources in these steps will make the appraisal a better experience, and it may well lead to an increased fair market value and a sale price you love.