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

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.

Chances are, you take great pride in your home and its upkeep — after all, it is one of your largest investments. So you may think there's not much maintenance to do before getting your house appraised, but you might be surprised by how closely you need to pay attention to details as small as your weather stripping, for example.

Luckily, we've compiled 6 appraisal tips to help you get the most out of your hard-earned home investment.

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, and provide them with any documentation or information that you believe to be pertinent to the home's valuation — like improvements and renovations you've made to your place, including the associated costs and/or receipts.

The more information you're able to provide, the more likely it is that the appraiser will be able to assess a fair and reliable valuation of your place. It's important that you ensure the appraiser is competent and familiar with the area in which you live, so they can better compare other properties in your neighborhood to your own.

It's also imperative 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 that 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 to your home, like renovations and upgrades, isn't necessarily the amount of money that the appraiser will incorporate into your house's valuation. Cost doesn't equal value, essentially. Still, the costs you provide can help the appraiser when comparing your property to others in the neighborhood.

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 before the appraisal.

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 an intact and attractive roof is likely to increase your home's 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.

Also, be sure to clean up any garden tools or supplies that may be hanging around in your yard, like hoses, shovels, trowels, bags of soil, empty pots — you get the idea. Not only does this ensure a safer environment for everyone in your household, but your home appraiser will smile upon your attention to detail.

3. tackle cleanup tasks inside your house

From mess and clutter, to outdated appliances, to aesthetic upgrades that need to be made to your home — these are things that appraisers take into consideration when determining the value of your house. Even an older-model TV can cause an appraiser to deem the entire room outdated — and although a brand-new TV is certainly not a requirement, it can spruce up your place and significantly improve your home's valuation in some cases.

And of course, use some elbow grease to get to scrubbing inside your place. And we're not talking your typical Saturday-morning tidy-up. We're talking on-your-knees work — scrubbing floorboards, clearing dust bunnies out of each and every nook and cranny, cleaning the mold and mildew from bathroom tiles, dusting the ceiling fans, removing stains from carpeting, organizing closets … the list could go on and on.

4. a fresh layer of interior paint never hurt anybody

Over the years, you've probably made a few nicks and dings that affect the appearance of your home's paintjob. Luckily, 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 demanded lime-green walls the moment you moved 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 important 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 little ones and four-legged friends safely inside, but it also helps keep the bad guys out. Details like these are regularly checked by home appraisers to ensure they don't need replacement before prospective buyers move in.

6. live in a great neighborhood? sell it!

One of the primary things prospective 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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