How To Prepare For A Home Appraisal: 7 Tips

5 Min Read
Published Dec. 1, 2023
Written By
Victoria Araj
Man wearing a hard hat and work vest while holding a clipboard inspecting a home's roof.

When looking to sell your home, you’ll certainly want to give yourself the best possible chance of getting an accurate home appraisal. Your home appraisal is important because it helps your home buyer and your home buyer’s mortgage lender know how much your home is worth. This will allow a lender to approve the sale price for a potential buyer and ultimately help get both parties to the closing table.

Let’s explore what appraisers evaluate and how you can improve your chances of getting an accurate home appraisal.

What Do Appraisers Look For And Why Is It Important?

When appraisers consider a home, they determine the value of your property based on several factors. The appraiser will evaluate both the inside and outside of your home to assess the general condition. This type of real estate valuation can be used for a number of purposes that include determining the worth of a home during a sale or refinance.

See What You Qualify For

Appraisal Criteria

Up next are the specific criteria that appraisers will typically use to determine the value of a home:

  • Comparable homes: Referred to as real estate comps, these are houses in your neighborhood with similar features. An appraiser will see how much money similar houses in your area have sold for recently and use this to help determine your house’s worth.
  • The condition of your home: The overall condition of your home is another big factor in setting a value. This can include both internal and external elements, repairs and home improvements.
  • Neighborhood: Appraisers will search Multiple Listing Services (MLSs), municipal records and other available resources to find data on your neighborhood. Home appraisers, who may be experts on specific localities, will also consider local amenities such as parks, shopping centers and access to public transport.
  • Square footage: Appraisers will assess the total square footage as well as aspects of the home such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Features and additions: If your home has desirable features such as an updated HVAC system, new appliances or heat-efficient upgrades, these will positively influence your appraisal value. However, it’s best to avoid additions to your home that are too personalized or that don’t match the overall style of your home.

What To Do Before An Appraisal

Preparing for a home appraisal might be easier than you think. Many home appraisal tips and best practices overlap with the ways to go about prepping for an open house. Here are some steps you won’t want to skip.

Couple going over paperwork together at a coffee table in living room.

1. Review Previous Appraisals

Your previous appraisal report can be a good starting point, especially if you bought your home within the last few years. You can get a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your house as well as its baseline value. Although the final value of your home will likely be different, you may be able to identify areas that have improved if you’ve made certain upgrades.

Woman applying white paint to bathroom door.

2. Complete Minor Repairs

One easy way to boost your home’s value is to complete small home repairs. Inspect both the inside and outside of your home and note any repairs or issues you can address with minimal cost. This could include fixing broken appliances, adding a fresh coat of paint or repairing light fixtures.

Woman planting in decorative garden to improve curb appeal.

3. Invest In Curb Appeal

First impressions are important, of course, and how well a home has been maintained is an item that appraisers consider. Make sure to keep up with basic maintenance such as mowing the lawn, trimming trees and emptying gutters. Consider adding small improvements such as a new house number, mailbox or fresh flowers.

Mother and young daughter mop floor together in a well-organized kitchen.

4. Clean And Declutter

Clean, clutter-free rooms can make a house look bigger while showing off its best features. Remember to clean up messes and store most small objects out of sight. Consider removing personal effects, such as family photos, and keeping sensitive information hidden from plain view.

Handyman fixing a smoke detector in kitchen.

5. Check Safety Equipment

Make sure to check essential safety features, such as carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, by testing them to ensure they’re working properly. Then, replace any batteries as needed. Remove or rearrange anything, such as furniture blocking doorways or stairs, that could present a fire or safety hazard.

This step is especially important if you accept an offer from a buyer using a government-backed FHA loan or VA loan that has stricter appraisal requirements than a conventional loan.

Row of similar-looking houses in a neighborhood.

6. Research Comps

Researching similar homes that recently sold in your neighborhood will give you an idea of your house’s worth. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate, though. That said, if your appraisal comes in low and you need to dispute it, having information about comps on hand could be helpful.

Woman documenting home upgrades and keeping track of them in a chart while looking at tablet.

7. Document Upgrades And Renovations

Take the time to secure documentation of any improvements you’ve made to your home since purchasing it. Many homeowners will include this information in a report that their real estate agent passes on to the appraiser.

The Bottom Line

The home appraisal process and final valuation decision might seem beyond your control as a homeowner. However, you can be proactive in taking some key steps to improve your prospects of a positive appraisal outcome.

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