MAKE SURE APPRAISER KNOWS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Supply the appraisal as much information as you can about your neighborhood. Have there been a lot of homes upgraded in your neighborhood or does your neighborhood spend every weekend making their properties look pristine? Perhaps your neighborhood has regular landscapers who provide the weekly maintenance needs of the properties near you. Each of these quality items will be reflected in the comparable sale home selection and can increase or decrease your homes appraised value.
PROVIDE YOUR OWN COMPARABLES
Do you know that websites such as Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Realtor.com, MLS.com, and many Real Estate company websites let you search for your own comparable home sales? If you provide your appraiser with three or four solid and well-priced comparable properties, you will save them some work, and insure that they are getting price information from homes that really are similar to yours.
You certainly do not need to do this but providing your own comparable homes will ensure you and your appraiser are on the same page and in the same ballpark with your home’s value.
KNOW WHAT ADDS THE MOST VALUE
If you have done minor renovations, there are a few things you must understand. First and foremost is that a kitchen or bathroom renovation provides the greatest return on your investment. That is not to say that spending $15,000 on your kitchen will increase the value of your home by that much! In fact it rarely does. However, adding another bathroom can totally change the comparable properties and result in a much higher value for your appraisal. Interestingly, wood floors, clean landscaping, and an enclosed garage can also drive up appraisal values.
DOCUMENT YOUR FIX-UPS
If you've put money into the house, prove it with before and after photos. It is especially important to point out structural changes, improvements to heating/cooling systems, and electrical improvements, as they are harder to spot during the inspection. As long as you have receipts and proof of inspection for these improvements they can boost your appraisal.
UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS RENOVATIONS
Many homeowners rave about a refinished basement, but that doesn't mean appraisers look at it the same way. The reason for this is because improvements or additions below grade do not add to the overall square footage of your house! In simple terms they don't add anywhere near as much value as improvements made above grade. Homeowners need to understand that similar bedrooms typically count for more if they are upstairs instead of downstairs.
CLEAN UP AND DECLUTTER
Like with all things, the first impression lasts the longest and has the most impact. The appraiser, like the potential home buyer, formulates their first impression when they first look at the front of your home. If your yard is well maintained, the trees are trimmed, and there are a few flowers in clean beds covered with mulch it goes a long way to a positive first impression. The same advice applies inside your home as well. Getting rid of all the clutter in your home makes it look larger than a home full of “stuff”. It should also go without saying that if your home appears clean and well maintained, than the appraiser will also think you take care of needed maintenance issues with the same diligence. These all indirectly translate into a higher appraisal value.
GIVE THE APPRAISER SOME SPACE AND TIME TO DO THEIR JOB
Just as you despise a car salesman following you around the dealership like a puppy dog, your appraiser needs you to stay clear of their personal space. When listing agents or homeowners follow the appraiser around so close they can’t even turn around quickly without bumping into them, it’s a major red flag indicating there is a problem with the home that they hope will be missed during the inspection. The appraiser will need to take pictures of your home and measure the rooms to determine the homes square footage. They will also take notes and document what they find. All of this takes time and space so be patient. A complete and accurate home inspection will ensure you get a fair and accurate appraisal reflecting the real value of your home.