10 Tips to Prepare for a Home Appraisal

Whether the real estate market is booming or crawling, having a property appraised is a major hurdle for sellers, buyers and lenders. The appraisal is an objective, third-party report that reviews your property, the neighborhood, and comparable sales in the area to determine the value of your property.

Before the appraiser schedules his inspection, I highly recommend that you, the seller, get other inspections done first, so you have an opportunity to fix any little (or not-so-little) issues. You might as well get credit in the form of a rosier appraisal, since you’ll likely need to do the work anyway.

Here are a few tips to help move the process along smoothly.

  1. Compile a list of recent improvements. If possible, include before and after pictures, and copies of paid receipts for the work. If you did major renovations, include a copy of the contractor’s detailed bid and the city or county permits.
  2. Make sure all areas of the property are accessible, including the attic, basement, crawl spaces and all parts of the garage.
  3. Make sure all utilities are on to alleviate any concerns about whether or not appliances are functioning properly.
  4. If the home is part of a homeowner’s association, include a copy of the fees paid, as well as the contact information for the association president.
  5. Make sure the house is clean and any touch-up painting is done. Appraisers are required to photograph each room, and while it may not make a difference to them if the room is messy, others might be less objective.
  6. Make sure the lawn is mowed, the hose is coiled, and the tricycle is not in the middle of the driveway. While an appraiser is, theoretically, not influenced by such things, he is also a human being and every little bit of neat and tidy helps.
  7. If there are any unfinished projects, make sure you complete them before the appraiser’s inspection.
  8. If there is anything on or around the house that appears permanent, but is going with you when you leave, be sure this is noted in the purchase agreement and mention it to the appraiser, too.
  9. If there are any easements, encroachments or unusual covenants associated with the title, provide a copy to the appraiser.
  10. If you know of any recent “For Sale By Owner” sales that will help support the value, ask the new owners if they are willing to share additional information about the sale.

Basically, you want to prepare your house for the appraiser as you would for a potential buyer. Make the house and the surrounding property as presentable as possible. Remove all the junk and a third of the furniture. And unlike when a prospective buyer plans to view the house, your Realtor or the buyer’s should be there when the appraiser comes. Since buyers and appraisers are influenced by the neighborhood in valuing your property, if you have the intestinal fortitude, consider talking to your neighbors about removing the 12 inoperable vehicles in their driveway and on the street in front of their house. You might even offer to mow their lawn, especially if they agree to keep their 120-pound Rottweiler inside on the day of the inspection.

Be aware: since the buyer pays for the appraisal and it is for the lender, you, as the seller, do not have the right to know the final value, unless the buyer gives permission to share the information. The only way you, as the seller, are privy to that information is if the buyer decides not to go through with the purchase of the property as a result of the appraisal.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.