Five Tips to Boost Your Home’s Appraisal

appraisalA home appraisal is certainly high on the list of awkward and potentially frustrating life events.  Some random stranger walks into your home, takes a peek around, and then tells YOU how much YOUR home is worth.  Whether the process is fair or not is certainly open for debate, but one thing is not:  the price the appraiser sets can make or break a real estate deal.  Appraisers are paid by lenders to make sure that they don’t approve loans for more than the properties are worth.  So, whether you are looking to refinance your mortgage, apply for a home equity loan, or sell your home, you need to turn that stranger into your new best friend by following these five tips.

1.     Appearance is everything

The sight of tacky lawn ornaments, dirty dishes, or a stack of books on the kitchen counter is not supposed to impact the appraisal, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Even the most objective appraiser may be influenced by external factors.  So, make sure to mow the lawn, trim the hedges, rake the leaves, wash your dishes, vacuum, clean the bathrooms, call the exterminator…you get the point.

2.     Keep (or make) a list of all upgrades

Take the time to put together a spreadsheet of the dates and costs of any upgrades, updates, additions, or other home improvement projects you have completed over the years.  Do you have any photos that can showcase the updated look?  What about receipts?  Don’t forget to point out structural or electrical improvements that may be hard to see with the naked eye.  Make sure to highlight features that separate your home from a comparable home.  Did you put in a pool or hot tub?  New roof or insulation?

3.     Location, Location, Location…

Ask the lender for an appraiser that lives in your area or has worked in the area before.  If that doesn’t work, do your best to convince the appraiser that you live in Pleasantville.  Mention the new restaurants in town, the dog park, the playground, the organic grocery store.  Is Tom Hanks your neighbor?  Find some selling points about the neighborhood or town that you live in and SELL.

4.    Spend Wisely

If you want to make a few upgrades to increase the price of the appraisal, make sure you spend your money on projects that are known to provide a solid return on investment.  Fresh paint, hardwood flooring and a new front door are all minor upgrades that usually add value to your home.  If you’re looking to upgrade larger spaces, kitchens and bathrooms generally provide the most bang for your buck.

5.     Do your own research

After finishing the inspection, the appraiser will find similar homes in your area (comparables) to help determine market value.  Check the web (zillow, trulia) and find at least 3 homes similar to yours that have favorable sales prices.  Don’t show any research to the appraiser that shows homes with prices (or circumstances) that are unfavorable to you.  Who knows, he/she may be so lazy that they simply use your research instead of doing their own.  Plus, you can use this research to challenge in the unfortunate case of a low appraisal.

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