How to Prepare for a Home Appraisal

I recently got a question from a reader who wanted to know how to prepare for a home appraisal visit. She was planning to sell her home, and she wanted to pay a professional appraiser to come and evaluate the property. Specifically, she asked if there was anything she could do to prepare for the visit that might increase the appraisal value. So I'll address that topic in this blog post.

How a Home Appraisal Works

If you want to know what your home is worth in the current market, a professional home appraisal is your best option. Sure, you can get a ballpark estimate from one of the many home value websites online today. But these websites only account for recent sales data in your area -- they don't factor in the improvements and upgrades you may have made to the home. After all, how could a website possibly know about such things?

If you want to get the best possible estimate on your home for pricing purposes, you should pay for an appraisal. Through this process, a licensed home appraiser will visit you to evaluate your home in person. He will do a room-by-room assessment of the property. He will look at the condition of the home. He will account for upgrades to the property and the landscaping. Lastly, he will look at recent sales data for comparable homes in your area.

In the end, you'll be presented with an appraiser's report. You can use this document to help determine your asking price (if you're selling) or to determine how much equity you have (if you're refinancing). Just bear in mind that if you do sell the home, the buyer's lender will have their own appraiser pay a visit as well. Still, it helps to do your own research ahead of time.

How to Prepare for It

As for how to prepare for an appraisal, I can sum that up with one statement. Prepare the home like you would for a buyer's visit, and then don't sweat it. Many of the things on the appraiser's checklist are things you cannot change -- size of the home, location, number of rooms, recent sales data, etc. You have no control over these factors. They are what they are. So you shouldn't worry about that side of things.

So let's focus on the things you can do to prepare for a home appraisal visit. In essence, these are the same things you should do when preparing the home to sell:

  • Make any necessary repairs around the house.
  • Update any outdated fixtures (but don't overspend in this area).
  • Freshen up any paint that might be faded, chipped, etc.
  • Do whatever you can to improve your curb appeal.

It's important to note that the things listed above won't add a lot of value to your home appraisal. They may help some, and every little bit helps. But more importantly, they will prevent the appraiser from entering your home with a negative mindset. When somebody is coming to put a value on your house, the last thing you want to do is give them a bad first impression. That's where the above list of items comes into play.

It's also important to tell the appraiser about any upgrades you've made to the house. This is critical, because it could increase the base appraised value of the home. This includes new flooring, decks, major landscaping additions, swimming pools, new cabinets or counters, etc.