5 Things You Should Always Do Before a Home Appraisal

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A professional, third-party opinion of a property’s value is required by any lending institution prior to giving a mortgage the stamp of approval. It could also be necessary in the event of a refinance or for a home equity line of credit (HELOC). To receive a clear picture of a property's value, the bank hires an appraiser to examine your home.
Unless it’s to establish your property taxes, it’s always in your best interest to have the highest home appraisal value possible. What can you do to prepare for an appraisal? Here are five tips.

1. Fix the little things

One broken doorknob or a single cracked tile won’t affect your appraised value much, if any. But if your home has innumerable little defects and broken things, it gives the appearance that you haven’t taken good care of it.
Whether that’s true or not, the goal for a home appraisal is to eliminate the negatives. Complete as many little jobs that are outstanding as you can, from patching and painting the scuffed wall in your dining room to installing the last bit of trim in your basement. Fix any faucet drips and, generally, make it look like your home is in the best shape that you can.

2. Research comps

One of the most important parts of the appraisal process is determining the right comparable properties, or "comps." Your appraiser will find three to five recently sold listings that are as close to your home in distance, size, and quality to establish the market value. You may not have any control over which homes have been sold lately, but you can a selection of comps that pull your home’s value up.
Search for homes that have a slightly higher value and finish quality than yours, but reasonably close. Leave these out for the appraiser when they visit to draw their attention. It demonstrates that you’ve done your homework and can help them trend in a certain direction when choosing their own comps.

3. Collect relevant information for the appraiser

When the appraiser visits, there are details that aren’t typically visible to them. For example, they may not know that you upgraded your wiring from aluminum to copper in the past three years along with your panel. Your hot water tank and furnace could be new this year, or your basement renovation may be of a higher quality than the average home.
Compile a portfolio of details that can prove your position to the home appraiser. Just by seeing extra detail, including progress pictures and receipts for materials, it paints you as a detailed, caring homeowner.

4. Invest time in the curb appeal

As with anything, first impressions are everything. If you’re having your home appraised in the spring, summer, or fall, have your lawn well manicured and your hedges trimmed. It pays to plant inexpensive flowers and shrubs to improve the curb appeal as much as you can.
If you have the time, paint any peeling trim or siding that might be showing more age than it should. Present a picture of a well-cared for home on the outside.

5. Make the interior presentable

Just like the exterior, make a lasting impression with your home’s interior. Tidy up all the rooms and make the spaces look as large as possible. Now’s your opportunity to temporarily cover up any flaws that can’t be fixed in time, too.
As an extra little kicker, add an aroma to give your appraiser a positive vibe. Fresh-baked cookies create a warm, pleasant aura that can unknowingly influence an appraiser. A dab of vanilla in the kitchen or bathrooms can also do the trick.

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