3 Tips for a Higher Home Appraisal

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3 Tips for a Higher Home Appraisal

It may seem that home buyers and sellers don't agree on much, but they share one important concern: that the transaction is successful. This comradery 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, his/her entire interior inspection is usually completed within 30 minutes or less.  While some Realtors feel it isn't necessary, I attend appraisal on each of my transactions, regardless of whether I represent the buyer or the seller.  I believe It's my responsibility to ensure the appraiser has all relevant data he/she needs to justify the purchase price of the home.  The information packet I prepare for the appraiser includes:

•  Specs on the home.
•  A thorough list of upgrades.
•  Clarification on any data discrepancies that exist on the county records.
•  External factors that influence the value of the home, like school ratings or community amenities.
•  A list of comparable properties that support the purchase price of the home.
•  Proactive explanations and data to explain why certain properties may NOT be a good comparison or support the purchase price of the home.

In my experience, appraisers appreciate the extra information and will take it into consideration as long as the Realtor doesn't overstep her boundaries.  

 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? I don't know about you, but before I trade in a car at the dealership, I give it a good cleaning.

"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 is what it's all about.

Do you have questions maximizing the appraisal value of your home?  Let's talk it through. Whether you're in Almaden, Cambrian, Willow Glen or beyond, I'm never more than a click or call away!

Lucinda Layton, Realtor®