We prepare ourselves for a lot of things. A job interview. A wedding. A night out with our spouse. The birth of a baby. A huge test. But how many homeowners actually take time to prepare for an appraiser coming? You might be surprised to know that I’ve seen more than my fair share of dirty dishes, week-old food on the counter, and of course – underwear. And that’s just the beginning! Now, while it’s not imperative you have your home white glove-ready, there are a few things you can do to prepare for an appraisal. Some have to do with your home, and others have to do with information & records. Read on, and be prepared! It actually does make a difference!
- Break out that ‘honey-do’ list. The general appearance of your home- including curb appeal – can affect an appraiser’s value opinion, so it’s a good idea to think about completing some of these small home improvement projects before the appraiser comes:
Outside: Trim bushes, clear debris, touch up peeling paint, improve the landscaping (even a little helps a lot), mow the yard, replace any damaged gutters, roof shingles or siding.
Inside: Replace worn-out flooring, fix any non-working kitchen appliances, door knobs, light fixtures, windows, and plumbing fixtures.
- Research sales in your neighborhood. Perhaps you know about a home down the street that just sold. It’s ok to tell the appraiser about it! I always say that we’re not infallible – we might miss a sale here & there – so that’s where the homeowner comes in handy. You are in your neighborhood every day, whereas we are not. Let us know what’s selling. Just be aware that most lenders want sales within the past twelve months, so if you neighbor sold his home three years ago, it’s most likely not going to help.
- Encourage your lender to make sure the appraiser is highly qualified and competent. Most lenders use a third party, or an in-house appraisal department to order their appraisals. When discussing your home loan, make sure and stress to your lender the importance of using an appraiser that is certified, designated, and one that has geographic competency. While the lender cannot pick their appraiser, they can relay their general desires to the third party or appraisal department.
- Get a survey. If you live in the county, or if you have an irregular-shaped lot, provide a survey showing the lot/acreage boundaries.
- Get a copy of your deed. All appraisals must include a legal description (found on your deed), and also must report any transfers within the past three years. Having a copy of your deed for the appraiser is priceless.
- Make a list of improvements. Whether you’ve been in your home 50 years or five months, let the appraiser know what’s been done, and when (ballpark estimates are ok). Not everything adds value to a home, but in my opinion, the more information I have — the better. So go ahead and make a list the night before (you’ll be surprised what all you’ve done once you start thinking about it!), and feel free to list those small improvements, even if you think they won’t matter.
- List the cost of each improvement (estimates are ok, again). Remember, though, cost rarely equals value, so whatever was spent on those windows or brand new kitchen appliances, may not translate to a dollar for dollar value increase. Regardless, it’s all good information for the appraiser to consider when comparing your home to other homes.
- Pick up your underwear. In addition to the exterior of the property, appraisers must photograph every room of the house, plus take photos of any physical deterioration, and examples of any recent updates such as restoration, remodeling or renovation. No, the house doesn’t have to be ready for a photo shoot in Southern Living, but do us all a favor and pick up your unmentionables, and maybe throw the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. An appraiser can’t deduct value for a dirty home, but if I can’t walk around the house without stepping on clothes or toys or trash, it’s going to be hard to keep that out of my mind when completing the report.
- Don’t forget the appraiser is coming! Too many times, I arrive at a home where the homeowner has forgotten about our appointment, and is either not prepared at all, or not even at home.
- Feel free tag along. Follow the appraiser around the house, if you’d like, and provide the appraiser with any information or paperwork you consider important to the valuation of your home.
Whether you do one step, or all ten, you’ll be a prepared homeowner, ready for the appraiser. If you have any other ideas, or specific questions about what will make your home appraiser-ready, feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!