Home sellers and owners refinancing their mortgages often have to endure a unique ordeal: the home appraisal. If you’re selling, you want the highest appraisal value possible to make sure the sale goes through. If you’re refinancing you’re probably cashing out equity. Either way, each dollar of appraised value is potentially a dollar in your pocket.
It’s never a good idea to try and fool the appraiser – most of them have seen every trick in the book – but there are simple things you can do to squeeze some extra value or equity out of your home.
1. Make the place presentable.
You don’t have to be able to eat off the floors – the house doesn’t even have to be as spotless as it would be for an open house. But impressions matter. Strewn laundry, dirty dishes, full wastebaskets, all can contribute to the wrong kind of impression.
2. Fix or replace broken windows, railings, steps, and other hazards.
Your chances of being able to avoid this, even if the buyer doesn’t care, are slim to none now that the mortgage lender wants an appraisal. (And zero if your buyer is going through the FHA.) So take care of it beforehand. And any appliances that are staying with the house, if you’re selling? Those have to work, too.
3. Have your real estate agent present during the inspection.
You can’t usually fool an appraiser – and your agent can’t either. But your agent is trained better to think on his feet at times like these, and is more likely to address nagging concerns of the appraiser’s than you are. Sellers, your agent works for you – put him to work during the appraisal.
4. Love what you’ve done with the place?
Hardwood floors four years ago? Bathroom remodeled two and a half years ago? Lawn re-sodded last summer? Bring these to the appraiser’s attention. Don’t expect your appraised value to go up by the amount you invested, but don’t be shy about pointing out what you’ve done.
5. Control your pets and kids.
The less stressful the appraiser’s inspection, the better off you’ll both be. An appraiser worried about being attacked or who is constantly distracted isn’t as likely to come through with the highest value.
6. Control the urge to do the appraiser’s job for him.
You will often hear that you should suggest homes sold in the area recently the appraiser can compare yours to. In truth, the appraiser considers that his job, and is more likely to resent it than be grateful. And he may have a point. You – and your agent – are interested in getting the highest value possible. The appraiser knows that, and may actually discount a comparable sale you come up with.
That being said, information and suggestions offered will often be graciously received. Just don’t overdo it. Understand where the appraiser is coming from – he understands where you’re coming from.
A lot of people don’t like a stranger wandering around their home sizing it up. But it’s for your own good. And a friendly, cooperative owner makes a much more favorable impression than a contentious one.
When it’s time to order your appraisal, it’s normal to feel a bit worried or intimidated. However, if you’ve done your homework as to the value of your home, you should rest easy. Follow these simple suggestions, and when the appraisal is in, you will surely be happy!