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Right now is the most popular time for people to buy a home, and if you’re looking to sell or refinance your home, one of the things you’ll have to deal with is the appraisal. If your appraisal doesn’t go well, it’ll considerably drop the perceived (because perception is reality) value of your home. So, it’s really important to do some research and know what to prepare for when you’re getting an appraisal.

The basic thing to keep in mind, an MSN.com article explains, is that “Some of the advice [for appraisals] — like home valuations themselves these days — might seem contradictory. But what all the appraisers agree on is the importance of keeping the look, feel and condition of the property as updated and cared-for as possible.”

To best prep for your appraisal, you should become familiar with the appraisal process so you know what to expect so you can prepare your home accordingly.

The Appraisal

While your mortgage lender can’t conduct the appraisal, they’re the one to order it through an appraisal management company, which will then select the individual appraiser to visit your home. The appraisal will last approximately 20-45 minutes as the appraiser examines the quality, condition, size, etc., of your home.

The three parts of the appraisal

With every appraisal, you have the inspection, the comparables and the final appraisal report. The inspection is the part where the appraiser visits your home. The comparables (comps) are similar homes in your area that have recently been sold. The appraiser researches comparable homes to help figure out the market value of your home.


And, you guessed it, the final appraisal report is what the appraiser issues after he/she has inspected your home and researched the comps.

Your Home

The general appearance of your home will affect the appraiser’s evaluation of your home. Before an appraisal, spruce up your home, inside and out, so your house looks clean, neat, well-kept and appealing to others.

Start with the outside

Mow and trim the lawn, put away or organize any tools/gardening equipment and clear away any debris like leaves or sticks. Get rid of any noticeable weeds or dead plants, too. Also look at the condition of the house itself. Do you have peeling paint, cracked/missing bricks or mortar, damaged gutters or siding? Peeling paint is one of the big things appraisers look at, and some types of mortgages appraisals – like FHA – have very specific requirements about paint condition. It’s absolutely worth your time and money to repaint any worn or damaged areas inside or outside your home before an appraisal.

Now tackle the inside of your home

After you’ve got everything shipshape outside, walk through your front door and try to look at everything through the eyes of a critical stranger. Mess and clutter will project a negative image of your home and can decrease its appraised value.

Some experts say just an old TV can make an entire room look outdated. This isn’t a necessary change, but if you were thinking about upgrading your TV soon anyway, think about doing it before your appraisal to spruce up your home’s appeal.

Keep your appraiser’s comfort in mind

You don’t want to patronize your appraiser, but think about little things you can do to make the visit a pleasant one. For example, lock up your dog if you have one. The appraiser doesn’t want an excited, or angered, pet jumping up on him/her while working. If it’s cold outside, make sure you have your house set at a comfortably-warm temperature and vice versa if it’s hot outside. You want the appraiser’s visit to be as pleasant as possible.

Also keep in mind the $500 rule

Appraisers often measure home value in $500 increments. If your home needs some relativity-minor repairs, they’ll hurt your appraisal. Absolutely fix or replace all non-functioning door latches/handles, torn screens, worn out carpet and basic plumbing and light fixtures.

Effective age

Having lights, doors or windows that don’t work can affect your home’s effective age. If elements of your home are worn or in disrepair, its effective age will be higher so it will be compared to homes that are older than it actually is.

Keep track of all repairs or updates to your home

This is something you should do whether you’re thinking about appraisals or not – so that you can point them out, along with any other special features of your home, to the appraiser.

Sell the neighborhood

You’ll also want to keep track of and show the appraiser any changes or amenities in your neighborhood. If there are any parks, playgrounds, historic landmarks, unique shops, restaurants or anything else that makes your area stand out as a great place to live.

The bottom line for home appraisals is to make your house as appealing as possible but don’t stress about it too much. Appraisers are trained to be careful and fair in their inspections.

Have any questions or suggestions? Please share them with us!

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This Post Has 24 Comments

    1. Hi Prity:

      I’m going to remove your phone number for your privacy. I can’t quite tell based on the comment what you’re looking for. If you’d like to look into your home loan options, the best way to get in contact with one of our Home Loan Experts is to fill out this form or call (888) 980-6716. If you’re looking to refinance, we can certainly help you look into your options.

      Kevin Graham

  1. I want to re-fi a HELOC (principal repayment starts in 2018) into a Home Equity Loan and add $12,000 to it. I know I have termites in the fascia boards, and rot on some of them as well (30 years old), and the roof is 30 years old as well.
    The goal is to use the $12,000 added to the home equity loan to get the roof/fascia boards done, and get it tented if needed beyond that.
    Will the appraiser knock me down because of these things, if that’s the goal of the re-fi to then have them done?

    1. Hi Gregory:

      I don’t really know the answer to that question, but one of our Home Loan Experts could point you in the right direction. We could also look at your options for a cash-out refi. You can get in contact with us by filling out this form or calling (888) 980-6716. I hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

  2. I’m refinancing my home and my loan lady said we would be paying $504 dollars for the appraisal but will have it returned to us. I thought the average appraisal was about $300? Why is mine so much more?
    Also we have some cracking on the interior walls of our home and cracked tile on the floor and countertop, which is caused by our house settling from this horrible california drought. I wanted to know, do I have to fix these things before our appraisal? We also have dry rot everywhere( it seems like), so I’m going to have to pay someone to fix all that as well right? Please help! Any advice is appreciated! Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah:

      It sounds like the appraisal is being covered by the deposit. There might be other things being covered by that fee in addition to the appraisal like title costs, credit report fees, etc. there are also instances where appraisal costs are higher depending on your area and the number of available appraisers as well as the size of the job. I’m going to pass this along to someone that knows more about appraisals to see if we can help you with your other questions.

      Kevin Graham

  3. Well, tomorrow is the day the appraiser will be here. We are simply refinancing so we can make all the necessary improvements that most are talking about. My issue is, I am never home. We have four young children playing sports and we USE our house. I am in the middle of rewiring the basement so there are unfinished walls and open switches. It’s not an active construction site but a process of about two months with about two weeks left to finish. I assume this all spells death for me in the appraisal?

    1. Hi Darren:

      I see that you’re working with us. I’m going to have someone reach out to you about this to see if they can offer any guidance specific to your situation.

      Kevin Graham

  4. What would you recommend for a home owner getting an FHA appraisal in a rural area, that has a wide variety of property types and price ranges? We don’t live in a traditional neighborhood and you can have a really nice house next to a not so nice house. We purchased our home twenty years ago as a fixer upper. And over those years we have done a multitude of things that have totally transformed our house from what it used to be. We paid $106k twenty years ago and have an accepted selling price of $174,9. We have gutted and remodeled the main bathroom and master bedroom, replaced all light fixtures, updated all wiring and circuit breaker box, installed all new flooring (including heated ceramic tile floor in kitchen/breakfast nook). The kitchen has been completely updated with granite tile, pull-out organizers in lowered cabinets, cabinet refacing, sink, faucet and stainless appliances. We have replaced roof (tear-off) on house and replaced furnace but they are near their life expectancy (will have furnace inspected and may have to replace for sale). Just replaced roof on detached garage this summer. Our home is on a one acre wooded hill with an asphalt drive, and we have done extensive landscaping all around the house. All appliances, including washer/dryer/water softener are included in the selling price.

    1. Hi Muriel:

      Appraisals are a bit different in rural areas because you have less population density and fewer comparables. The area is spread out a bit in order to help find a comparable, but it may take a little bit longer because there are less available appraisers. That said, if I understand you correctly, you’re the one selling the house. Because the appraisal process is more about the buyer and the buyer’s lender being able to justify the loan amount based on property value, it would typically be up to that lender to set something up with an appraisal management company that would send out an independent appraiser not affiliated with either party. You probably wouldn’t have to do anything except be patient through the process because it can take longer. I wish I could offer you better advice with more concrete actions, but that’s the truth.

      Kevin Graham

  5. hello we lived in Georgia and been living in this house for 5-6 years and we paying rent 800 an months the women went up $100 in rent and the last appraisal before we moved in was 89,000 …. so we just have an appraisal last week and he was very very easy it took him 15 minutes outside and 15 minutes inside he took pictures with everything in the pictures look nice … we rebuild our front porch, got new toilet, new floor tiles, fixed the wires, roof fixed, pressure wash the house, fixed the leak etc we got the report back that it was worth $109,000 and the woman who owned this house just want $ 55,000 we are sooo happy we getting this house because if we did not we have to moved out because $900 an months of rent is to much for an house that the owner did not update the house before we moved in and everything was falling apart or rotten …. this was our first appraisal we was very nervous we have everything clean ….

  6. Quick question, my husband and I have lived in our home as a lease with buy option, in a month or two we’ll be having our appraisal done. We’ve painted the exterior to spruce it up, a nice teal trim against a white base. My husband got a wild hair and decided to paint the enclosed back porch wall a very bright orange. We live in Florida, so hey go dolphins, but I’m concerned that the paint color choice will affect the appraisal value. Am I being ridiculous?

    1. Hi Cassandra:

      It’s generally good to go with neutral colors, but that’s more because that’s what people like to see when you sell. You could probably paint for the appraisal easily if you’re concerned. However, as a football fan, I can appreciate your husband’s fandom. That’s one heck of a defensive line.

      Kevin Graham

  7. I purchased my home in 1990. for 55000 . In 2006 when I was given my first appraisal it was appraised at 88.000.Since then Ive added new siding on both of my back porches [I have a two family back porches up and down. New windows. Pictures windows with grids 6′ by 4. Added Brazilian walnut floors. on the porch upstairs Hard wood floors in both apartments. A new ROOF! Second floor balcony on the front with French doors. Added a mahogany awning.
    beautiful Zoysia grass lawns. I can go on. But the point is . Because it was a two family. He had to go out side of my neighbor hood for the Comps. Instead of going South where the homes where there our 36500 homes and flats where the interns and student live . he went north. in a distress area. where he said most two families were rehabs..He appraised my home at 42000 I owe 45.000. my interest rate is 6.1/2 % I COULDNT BELIEVE IT ! IM Devastated! too say the least!! I live in a Black Community with home hard wood floors ..marble fireplaces butler pantries French doors in living rooms stain glass window which I have also.. But we cant get our homes refinance because of the comps. Everyone in our neighbors has been here for over 40 years. They haven’t moved. My father paid 25.000 dollar for their home in the sixties.. So did a lot of my neighbors. I’m AFRICAN AMERICAN AND I D O N T H I N K IT F A I R!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Hi Gwen:

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve had this experience. You do have the opportunity to appeal the appraisal. It helps if you can present evidence that errors were made or that the appraiser didn’t compare to appropriate comps. It might be worth a try. You also may still have some options to refinance depending on what loan programs you qualify for. We can certainly help you take a second look at your options if you want to go ahead and fill out this form.

      Kevin Graham

  8. We are in the process of having our deck rebuilt with new composite decking. Unfortunately, we live in Michigan and it snowed. I was told because our deck is not finished, they will not refinance our home. Is this true? We have all the materials purchased and our contractor was working on it until the snow fell. It is an improvement to the home, but is it true that we can’t get refinanced since it is a work in progress even though it is outside of the home?

    1. Hi Julie:

      Being based in Detroit, we’re definitely familiar with the fact that Michigan’s weather can change on a dime. We sympathize. It’s generally a good idea to have all upgrades and additions that could affect your home value complete before having an appraisal done. As to whether or not the work in progress deck would actually prevent appraisal, I’m going to forward your question to one of our Home Loan Experts. They’ll be able to give you a better answer than I can. I can tell you for sure that having the deck complete would give you a better chance of boosting your property value.

      Kevin Graham

  9. how can you be sure the appraiser knows your neighborhood? I am in a historical district and the last time i had an appraisal done they took values from a depressed area within a mile of the historical district. also does the view from the home add any monitary value to the appraisal? thank you

    1. Hi Lynn-

      Appraisals can sometimes be complicated because appraisers are trying to find comparable properties within the area and in certain cases that’s more difficult than others. That said, I’m going to set you up with a Home Loan Expert who can reach out to find out more about your situation and answer your questions more thoroughly.

      Kevin Graham

  10. Also remember the little things…..baking cookies just prior to the appraisers arrival, fresh flowers, freshly vacuumed or washed floors all add to the internal appeal of your home. Smells are just as important as appearance. Offering a cup of coffee or glass of water also helps by adding to how welcoming your home feels.

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