It may seem that homebuyers and sellers don't agree on much, but they share one important concern: that the transaction is successful. This camaraderie is never more evident than during the appraisal process. It's only natural, since the results of the appraisal can send the deal spiraling out of control.
Appraisers take into account many factors when determining the worth of a home. While some of these, such as location, can't be helped, there are things a homeowner can do to ensure that the home is appraised for maximum value.
1. Information is King
Appraisers don't spend a lot of time in the home. In fact, Brian Coester, chief executive of appraisal firm CoesterVMS, tells CNBC that the interior inspection typically takes 30 minutes or less.
"After inspecting thousands of homes, it does become quite easy to quickly assess the amenities in a home," reiterates Ryan Lundquist on Sacramento Appraisal Blog.
First impression is everything...start with providing the appraiser with a packet of information as he or she speeds out the door after the inspection. The packet should include both basics about the home and anything that will help back up the buyer's offer. Things to consider including:
- Fact sheet about the home, including address
- Year the home was built
- Square footage
- Number of bedrooms and bathroos
- Listing of any recent sales in the area, particularly for-sale-by-owner homes or any homes that sold below market (for example, homes sold to a relative or by owners who were rushed to leave town due to a relocation)
- List of any improvements you've made the the home (listed by date and including the name of the contractors who performed the work)
2. If It's Broken, Fix It
The appraiser will assign the home with what is known in the business as an "effective age."
It's largely based on the condition of the home and how well it has been maintained. This age may be older or younger than its actual age. "Say you have a cracked window, thread-bare carpet, some tiles falling off the shower surround, vinyl torn in the laundry room, and the dog ate the corner of the fireplace hearth, these items could still add up to an overall average condition rating as the home is still habitable, however your effective age will be higher resulting in comparables being utilized which will have the same effective age and resulting lower value," Doreen Zimmerman, an appraiser in Paradise, California, tells the Wall Street Journal.
Fix anything that will age the home in the eyes of the appraiser.
3. Give the Home a Quick Cleaning
Most appraisers will tell you that it doesn't matter if your home is clean or dirty - it has no bearing on its value. We, on the other hand, know how illusions can sell, and if a clean house gives the illusion that the home has been well-maintained, what harm can it do to clean it before the appraiser's arrival? It's not likely you would bring in a dirty car to a car dealer when doing a trade-in...the same applies to your home, and the stakes are even higher!
"Things like overgrown landscaping, soiled carpeting, marks on walls - those do affect value and are part of the property's overall condition rating," Dean Zibas, of Zibas Appraisal in San Clemente, California, tells the Wall Street Journal.
While some things impact a home's value more than others, the bottom line is that the process can vary by appraiser. Anything you can do in the three areas listed above has the potential to streamline the appraisal process and increase the value of your home. Plus, going through these steps prior to listing your home will only help increase the number of potential buyers. And ultimately, selling your home for the best price and with the least hassle is what you're looking to do!