A Seller’s Guide: Preparing for Real Estate Appraisal

You Can't Control the Outcome of the Appraisal of your Property for Sale, but there are Steps You Can Take to Contribute Positively to the Process.

First of all, take a deep breath with your palms open toward the sky; this open-handed feeling is exactly the level of grip you will have on the result of your appraisal, and it’s best to accept this lack of control up front. Unless there is a problem, you will likely never see the results of the appraisal on your property – and rest assured, the majority of all appraisals come in without a hitch. No news, as it turns out, is good news in this case. Your goal is to pass muster, and the specific results are relevant to the Buyer and his or her Lender, but not vital to you as the Seller unless there is an issue. 

The Real Estate Appraisal is Scheduled on Your Property. What Should You Do Now?

Tidy up a bit. Not like your mother-in-law is on the way,  but as though your new neighbors are popping by for coffee and you’d like to leave them with a reasonable first impression. Declutter areas the appraiser will need to access – anything you can do to make his or her job easier is a smart move.

Be available and be helpful where you can. You may be at work while the appraiser comes by for their assessment, but if you are home, be ready to answer questions. Just be sure you don’t follow along on the appraiser's heels. Be prepared to discuss remodels, upgrades and anything special about your home that might impact its value (like an awe-inspiring wine cellar, for example).

Trim the grass, hedges and flower beds. Freshen up mulch and make sure to weed any rock beds. Don’t go crazy – but put your yard in pleasant order before appraisal day.

Take care of minor repairs. Similar to planning ahead for your Inspection, if you’ve been postponing minor repair projects around the house, stop procrastinating and git-r-done. Unfinished business around the house can affect the final appraisal value.

What is the Appraiser Up to Anyway?

Consider your home from the outside in. The appraiser will be evaluating: 

Exterior:

The exterior includes all exterior walls, the roof, and the foundation of your home. 

Size:

Lot Size and square footage both come into play when considering the size of your home. 

Interiors:

Surface finishes like walls, countertops, flooring; systems like electrical and plumbing; windows are all aspects that appraisers take into consideration when appraising your home.

Improvements:

Did you replace the furnace? Update a kitchen or bathroom? Are the appliances new? If you have updated, upgraded or replaced anything in your home, you’ll want to share that information with the appraiser. Making a concise list to leave on the kitchen counter for the appraiser is a best practice.

Niceties:

A fireplace, spacious deck, pool, in-ground sprinkler system, energy efficient windows – features like this can offer a boost to your home’s value.

Comparable Homes:

The appraiser will look at the sold price of homes similar to yours in your area.

Prepare to the best of your ability, but ultimately - don’t sweat the appraisal. And don’t lose sleep over the details of your preparation beforehand, either. Follow this list of recommendations, pay attention to details the appraiser is likely to notice, and then hope for the best. You’ve planned, prepared and considered many angles, and chances are excellent you’re appraisal will come in right on the mark.