How to Avoid Hurting Your Home Appraisal

How to Avoid Hurting Your Home Appraisal: Cleaning, Updating & Fixing

You’ve probably heard the saying “you have to spend money to make money”. That is especially true when it comes to your home.

If you want to get the most value for your property, you need to keep it in good condition. Here are a few tips on how to avoid hurting your home appraisal:

What is a home appraisal?

Home appraisals are a method by which an appraiser reviews a home and compares them to homes in a specific neighborhood to determine their fair market price.

Refinancing appraisals are another type of appraisal commonly used when an individual uses their current mortgage to buy and repay his/her existing mortgage.

US existing home median sales price
Source: YCHARTS

These two appraisal types differ very little in how they are calculated. One of the biggest differences is that the buyer does not get involved in the appraisals. In the case of the refinancing appraisal however, homeowners have the opportunity to participate, so the benefits can be great.

What is the home appraisal process like?

The home appraisal process can be a little confusing, so we’re here to break it down for you.

When you get a home appraisal, an appraiser will visit your home and compare it to similar homes in your area. They will look at things like the condition of your home, the size of your property, and the features of your neighborhood.

Depending on the type of appraisal that is ordered, an appraiser may be able to conduct a “drive-by” appraisal from outside the home. However, if a full appraisal is ordered, the appraiser will likely be inside the home, usually for about 15-30 minutes.

If your home is in poor condition or doesn’t match what’s common in your area, it may hurt your home appraisal. So be sure to keep your home in good condition and up-to-date with the latest trends.

What hurts a home appraisal?

There are a few things that can hurt a home appraisal. One of the most common is a cluttered yard. If the yard is full of toys, tools, or other items, it will be difficult for potential buyers to get a good idea of what the property could look like. They may also think that you don’t take care of your home.

Another thing that can hurt your appraised value is bad paint job. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in making your home look nicer and more valuable. If the paint is peeling or faded, it will be noticed by potential buyers and may lower the value of your home.

It’s also important to keep the lawn well-maintained. An overgrown yard or one that is full of weeds will make your home look neglected. Potential buyers may think that you don’t take care of your property and this could lower the value of your home.

Another thing that you may not expect to affect your appraisal is neighbors. The Appraisal Institute has warned that bad neighbors can lower home values by as much as 10%.

Finally, it’s important to keep all of the systems in your home up-to-date. This includes plumbing, heating and cooling, and electrical systems. If any of these are outdated or broken, it will be noticed by potential buyers and may lower the value of your home.

By keeping your home in good condition, you can avoid hurting your home appraisal.

Additionally, if you have a newer home you may have less to worry about as newer homes (in the last 10-20 years) have been built with more updated building codes and are unlikely to have issues.

Checklist to clean, update, and fix before your home appraisal

If you’re wanting to get the most out of your home appraisal, it’s important to keep in mind what could potentially hurt that evaluation.

Some things that may be looked at unfavorably by an appraiser include a cluttered yard, bad paint job, overgrown grass, and an overall neglected aesthetic. Broken appliances and outdated systems are also big no-nos – by systems we mean plumbing, heating and cooling, and electrical systems.

If you’re hoping to increase your home’s value, focus on fixing these things up before the appraisal. A little bit of cleaning and updating can go a long way!

Consider doing the following to increase your home appraisal.

Add a fresh coat of paint

If you’re looking to give your home a fresh new look, updating the paint job is a great way to do it. Here are a few tips on how to do it:

Pick a neutral color palette

When choosing colors for your paint job, it’s best to stick to neutrals. This will make your home look more timeless and will appeal to a wider range of buyers.

Prep the surface properly

Before you start painting, it’s important to prep the surface properly. This means cleaning it and removing any old paint or debris.

Use quality paints and brushes

It’s also important to use quality paints and brushes when painting your home. This will ensure that the job is done properly and that the finish is even and well done.

Keep your lawn well-maintained

A well-maintained lawn is an important part of any home. Here are a few tips on how to keep your lawn looking its best and avoid a cluttered yard:

  • Mow the lawn regularly
  • Trim the hedges
  • Water the lawn regularly
  • Keep the grass at the correct height
  • Fertilize the lawn regularly
  • Remove any debris or leaves

Update any home systems

Having up-to-date systems in your home is important if you want to get the most value for your property. Here are a few tips on how to do it:

  • Keep all of the systems in your home up-to-date
  • Upgrade any outdated or broken systems
  • Make sure all of the systems are in good working order

Keep a neat and tidy home appearance

Having a neat and tidy home appearance is important if you want to get the most value for your property. Here are a few tips on how to do it:

  • Keep all of the rooms in your home clean and organized
  • Remove any excess clutter from the rooms
  • Make sure all of the surfaces are clean and free of dirt and dust
  • Polish all of the furniture and fixtures
  • Hang up all of the clothes and put away any toys or other items

Fix any broken appliances or fixtures

If any of the appliances or fixtures in your home are broken, it’s important to fix them as soon as possible. Here are a few tips on how to do it:

  • Fix any broken appliances as soon as possible
  • Upgrade any outdated or broken appliances
  • Make sure all of the appliances are in good working order
  • Keep all of the appliances and fixtures clean and free of dirt and dust

Repair any damage to walls, ceilings, and rooms in your home

Maintaining your home in good condition is also important if you want to get a good home appraisal.

This includes fixing any cracks in the walls, patching up holes in the ceiling, and cleaning up any dust or dirt.

Love this list? Check out our home-seller checklist which will guide you through your home sale from pre-listing to contracts and closing.

How to improve your appraised value

There are a number of things you can do to make your house more valuable to potential buyers. Here are a few of the most important:

  • Keep it clean and clutter-free. A clean and organized home will appear more spacious and appealing.
  • Repair any damage. Make sure all broken appliances and fixtures are fixed, and that all damage is repaired.
  • Update your decor. A fresh coat of paint or some new furniture can go a long way in making your home look more modern and appealing.
  • Stage your home correctly. This means arranging furniture in an attractive way and ensuring that everything is clean and in good condition.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your home appraisal is as high as possible.

What to avoid before getting a home appraisal

Don’t do any major renovations or updates before the appraisal.

Major renovations or updates before the appraisal can hurt a home’s value. In fact, most renovation projects don’t return as much as they cost, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost Versus Value Report.

remodeling cost vs value
Source: remodeling.net

It’s also not advised to use flooring that is going to be ripped up anyway (like in most basements), make any repairs that are either huge and expensive, or repairs where someone will have to do a lot of work for an inexpensive change. You shouldn’t spend time on what you don’t need for your appraisal.

But what you can do is clean. Clean the windows, sweep the porch and sidewalks, trim back any overgrown plants – in short, make your home look as good as possible. You don’t need to go overboard, but a little effort can really pay off. And if there are any known problems with your home – like a leaky roof – take care of them before the appraiser comes.

Making small repairs, like fixing a leaky faucet or replacing a burned-out light bulb, can also be helpful. It shows that you’re taking good care of your home and that you’re proactive about maintenance. Not only will this make your home more appealing to potential buyers down the road, but it could also lead to a higher appraisal.

For more repair do’s and dont’s check out our the 5 things that should be on your “Do-Not-Fix” list when selling a home in 2022.

So before your home goes through an appraisal, take some time to clean and fix what you can. It may not seem like much, but it could make all the difference in what your home is worth.

Common questions about home appraisals

What will fail a home appraisal?

Home appraisals provide you with an estimate of the market value of your property.

An appraisal is not a pass or fail situation, but there are certain things to keep an eye out for. Make sure to stay on top of these to keep your home sale on track, NAR reports that 21% of contracts were delayed because of appraisal issues in October 2021.

As we mentioned above, it’s important not to do any major renovations or updates before the appraisal. One common mistake that hurts an appraisal is the homeowner completely changing what their home looks like and making it impractical for another homeowner to live there without any problems.

It’s okay to upgrade appliances, but avoid replacing broken things where more work will be done than what was done on installing them originally because it will make your home worth less when appraised.

The last thing people want is to go through a home appraisal, spend all this money on what they thought would be an increase and have it knocked down because of some small things that could’ve been fixed.

If you’re unsure about what is considered a major renovation or update for an appraisal, talk to your real estate agent. They’ll be able to give you more specific advice and help you avoid making any costly mistakes.

What will hurt my appraised value?

Location will have the greatest effect and potential decrease of appraisal value. This is because most properties are valued within 20% of a comparable house’s value within its area.

How much does a home appraisal cost?

The appraisal fee ranges from $350 to $450 when performed by a certified residential appraiser.

Does a messy house affect an appraisal?

A cluttered and messy house can definitely affect a home appraisal. The appraiser will be looking at the overall condition of the residence, and a messy house will not look good. Additionally, if there are any known problems with the home, it’s important to take care of them before the appraisal.

What factors affect home appraisals?

There are a number of things that can affect a home’s appraisal, including the condition of the home, recent updates or renovations, and the size of the property. Additionally, location is a major factor in determining a home’s value.

A recent development has seen homes in metro areas increase in value. In Q3 2021, home prices increased by the double-digits in 78% of metro areas , according to data from NAR.

The appraisal I received is under contract value, what happened?

If your appraisal comes in below the contract sum in 2022, it’s probably because the real estate market is changing quickly.

Appraisals come in low only about 8% of the time according to data from Fannie Mae – however recent home sellers might experience an recent increase in appraisal issues due to the extra-hot market and comps lagging behind true market value.

contract sales price above appraised value
Source: CoreLogic

In May 2021, 19% of appraisals came in lower than the contract price, according to CoreLogic (in January 2020, just 7% of appraisals came in low by comparison).

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