the home appraisal process: 6 tips for getting your house ready

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Since a good home appraisal can make the difference of thousands of extra dollars in your pocket, it's important to take all the steps necessary when preparing your place for an appraisal.

first things first: a couple notes on getting your house appraised

As the homeowner, you have the right to accompany the appraiser during the appraisal process, providing them with any documentation or information that you believe to be pertinent to the home's valuation — like improvements and renovations you've made, for instance. The more information you're able to offer up, the more likely it is that the appraiser will be able to assess a fair and reliable valuation of your place.

Assure the appraiser is licensed and familiar with your area. It's important to note that you can't specifically choose an appraiser yourself — but you can call your mortgage lender to request an appraiser that's part of a particular organization you trust, as well as one that's experienced in your geographical location.

Last but certainly not least, you should know that the cost you paid for certain changes (like renovations and upgrades) isn't necessarily the same amount of money the appraiser incorporates into your house's valuation. Cost doesn't always equal value, essentially. Still, any receipts you provide can help the appraiser when comparing your property to others in the neighborhood.

6 essential tips to prep you for a home appraisal

Here, we've compiled some handy tips to help you get the most out of your hard-earned home investment.

1. Start with your home's exterior

Believe it or not, the appraiser is going to take a close look at the paint on your home's exterior. If it's chipping or peeling, they may appraise it at a significantly lower value unless you fix the issue beforehand.

The same thing goes for the condition of your roof. If it's damaged (or just looking pretty sad) after weathering a storm or 2, it's a good idea to have the pros come out and make any necessary repairs or cleanups. Not only does this vastly improve the appearance of your abode, but it's also likely to increase its valuation.

2. Clean up your yard

If you have a grass lawn, be sure to mow it before your appraiser comes to visit — and remove any weeds while you're at it. If you have a garden, make sure it's cleaned-up and presentable, and that any overgrowth blocking windows, vents, or the façade of your home is pruned back. Put away any garden tools or supplies that may be hanging around, like hoses, shovels, trowels, bags of soil, and empty pots.

3. Tackle cleanup tasks inside your house

From mess and clutter, to outdated appliances and much-needed aesthetic upgrades, an appraiser takes the details into consideration when assessing the value of your home. Even an older-model TV can cause an appraiser to deem the entire room outdated. (If that's not an excuse to upgrade, we don't know what is).

And of course, use some elbow grease. Scrub floorboards, clear dust bunnies out of every nook and cranny, clean the mold and mildew from bathroom tiles, dust the ceiling fans if you have them, remove stains from carpeting, and organize closets.

4. Apply a fresh layer of interior paint

Over the years, you've probably made a few nicks and dings that affect the appearance of your home's paintjob. Coating your walls in a fresh layer of paint can make a huge difference in the way your place looks — and the amount of money you get toward your house's valuation.

And if your 5-year-old would settle for nothing less than lime-green walls upon moving in, it's probably best to cover the blindingly bright color with something a bit more neutral that appeals to a greater number of potential homebuyers.

5. Make sure your home safety equipment is in working order

Aesthetics are important, of course, but safety comes first! That's why it's imperative to check safety features like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire sprinkler systems, and burglar alarms, to name a few, to make sure they have full batteries and are functioning properly.

Also make sure all locks on doors, windows, and other entries into your home are secure. Not only can they keep your kids and four-legged friends safely inside, they also help keep the bad guys out. Details like these are regularly checked by home appraisers to ensure they don't need replaced before prospective buyers move in.

6. Live in a great neighborhood? Sell it!

One of the primary things home buyers consider is the neighborhood they'd like to live in. If you reside in an area with great access to parks and public transportation, top-rated schools, and all the culinary delights you could ask for — remind your appraiser that these lovely details add value to your house. Living in a gated community or on a golf course can also help increase the valuation of your place.

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