What Hurts a Home Appraisal?

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In almost every case, you’ll need a home appraisal before a lender will issue you a new mortgage. You might also need an appraisal if you’ve completed renovations and need to increase the value on your insurance significantly. And if you’re refinancing or renewing your mortgage or using it as collateral on a home equity line of credit (HELOC), a third-party appraisal is often ordered.
Are you worried about the results of your home appraisal? The way it’s done is by inspecting your home and comparing it to others nearby and of the same size and style. But what could cause the value to come in lower than expected?

Six factors that hurt a home appraisal

Appraisers are specialists in their field and all appraisers must be certified or licensed in their state. However, there’s still a human element that factors in. An appraiser’s perspective on certain circumstances can hurt your home’s valuation. Here are six examples.

A downturn in the market

The housing market fluctuates according to the local and national economy. Factors like pandemics, war, high interest rates, and other uncertainties can push the housing market into a recession or depression.
When that happens, an appraiser will take the market conditions into consideration. Your home could be worth tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) less when the market is depressed.

A uniquely customized home

If you’ve designed your home to work specifically to your needs or wants, it can make your stay more comfortable and convenient. But when you try to sell, quirky designs can often lead to disinterest from house buyers. Uniquely customized homes can sit on the market for months longer than a traditionally designed layout.

An inexperienced appraiser

As with any profession, appraisers don’t want to make a mistake. Playing it safe is the name of the game. If there’s something they’re unsure of or they can’t find a comparable property for their valuation, it’s likely they’ll err on the side of caution with a lower value. Unfortunately, it’s at your home value’s expense.
If you have any influence in which appraiser is used, look for someone who has several years of experience appraising home values specifically, not just properties in general.

Heavy traffic nearby

People tend to pay higher prices for homes on quiet streets. For that reason, a home appraiser will assign a lower value for a home that’s on a medium- or high-traffic route. But it’s more than just vehicle traffic. If you have railway tracks nearby with trains that will wake the dead in the middle of the night, or if you have commercial airliners buzzing the trees in your yard, you can safely assume it’s going to hurt your property valuation.

Local crime rate

For areas with high crime rates, especially violent crime, it goes to reason that it’s a less desirable place to live. Home values are depressed in general because of the more common occurrences of crime. If your home is in a neighborhood that’s become notorious for nefarious behavior, there’s a good chance it will be valued lower than if you live in a gated, secure neighborhood with little to no crime.

Substandard repairs or upgrades

The DIY projects might save you money and who cares if your cuts aren’t perfectly straight? If you’ve opted to perform less-than-professional-grade repairs or renos in your home, a home appraiser will notice, and it will detract from your home’s appraised value.
The same principle applies for neglected repairs. Whether you’ve put off replacing the shingles or there’s a corroded tap that’s been dripping for weeks, minor issues that demonstrate poor maintenance or workmanship will hurt a home appraisal.
If you’re looking to sell your home, get the highest appraised value by eliminating the negative aspects you can control. You can’t change the traffic flow or the crime rate, but you can fix the leaky faucet or repair the vinyl laundry room floor for cheap.

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