Homebuyers and sellers share one important concern; that the transaction is successful. This camaraderie is never more evident than during the appraisal process— the results of which can send the deal spiraling out of control.
Appraisers take into account many factors when determining the worth of a home. While some of these, such as location, can't be helped, there are many things a homeowner CAN DO to ensure that the home is appraised for maximum value.
1. Information is King
Appraisers don't spend a lot of time in the home. In fact, the interior inspection typically takes 30 minutes or less. That isn't much time to make a good first impression, so make sure you prepare in advance of the appraiser's visit. The first thing you should create is a packet of information that you can hand the appraiser after they are finished. This packet should contain not only the basics about your home, but anything that will help back up the buyer's offer.
Include a fact sheet in this packet about the home with the address, the year the home was built, the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the size of the lot. Also include a listing of recent sales in the area, especially if you know of any for-sale-by-owner homes that have sold or homes that sold for less than they should have for any reason. The appraiser has access to recent home sales, but there's always a chance they may miss something.
Additionally, create a list of any improvements you've made to the home. List them by date and include contact information for the contractor who did the work.
2. If It's Broken, Fix It
The appraiser will assign the home with what is known in the business as an "effective age."
This is largely based on the condition of the home and how well it has been maintained. This age may be older or younger than its actual age. If you have cracked windows, stains on the carpet, torn floor vinyl in a bathroom; these things will add up and hurt your homes ‘effective age.’ Fix anything that will age the home in the eyes of the appraiser.
3. Give the Home a Quick Cleaning
Most appraisers will tell you that it doesn't matter if your home is clean or dirty—it has no bearing on its value. However, on the other hand, a clean house gives the impression that the home has been well-maintained. What harm can it do to clean it before the appraiser's arrival? I don't know about you, but before I trade in a car at the dealership, I always give it a good cleaning.
While some things impact a home's value more than others, the bottom line is that the process can vary by appraiser. Anything you can do in the three areas listed above has the potential to streamline the appraisal process and increase the value of your home. Going through these steps prior to listing your home will only help increase the number of potential buyers. And ultimately, selling your home is what it's all about.