Home Appraisal Tips for Refinancing

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When you refinance your mortgage, a very important stage in this process is getting a great home appraisal. This can make the difference between getting a good deal or losing even more money. While your home’s location is something that can add up value (or not) to the final price, there are many things you can do to drive the price up.

Here are few home appraisal tips

Do your homework

Don’t let the appraiser do all the ‘digging‘ (especially if he’s not from the area). Even if you get to work with a very well prepared professional, knowing the price for similar houses in your area and what’s cool and new in the neighborhood, can set you up for a better appraisal. It all matters: housing prices, a new restaurant, a great high-school etc. Make sure to mention these and also have a list with all your home’s work and improvements.

Check and clean the outside of the house

Sure, if your home is not brick and mortar, you can’t re-build it to get a higher value, but you can still try to repair any cracks, maybe even take care of the windowsย  that need fixing. Structure and functionality are the things an appraiser will look at, so do solve any such issues with your home, as much as possible.

Make sure the landscape looks good

Don’t go overboard with installing zen fountains or god knows what trinkets and don’t over-spend on this. Still, a clean yard, some nice flowers, the door freshly painted and a nicely mowed lawn can make a huge difference. Since your home’s exterior is the first thing the appraiser will see, make sure it looks clean and well cared for. Sure, most professionals might not bother with this, but there are still appraisers that look at such details. If it doesn’t cost you a lot (and it shouldn’t), cleaning up the landscape can only improve your chances.

Don’t let pets run wild

Most of us are pet owners, but, even if the appraiser is one of ‘us’, he still shouldn’t have to deal with your pets, their hairs all over the place and the smell they leave in the house. It’s true you don’t have to impress the appraiser as you’d do with a potential buyer, but even small details count.

Clean up the house

It’s shocking to see how many people don’t bother vacuum or wash the dishes on a regular basis. OK, we are all tired and over-worked, but, when your home is up for inspection, the least you can do is make sure it’s spotless. In theory the appraiser shouldn’t take this into account (since the measure up the property, assess the amenities etc.), but dirt can make the furniture and carpets look older than they are.

A thorough cleaning can make everything look new and modern (even if it’s not), which can drive up the price more. Or, it can just set the appraiser in a better mood and we all know they’re not robots.

Fix what needs fixing (or remove)

Imagine you go into a kitchen and the faucet is not running. Or, worse, you get into a bathroom and are shocked to see how everything is falling apart. So, one of the most important home appraisal tips would be to make sure all the ‘equipment‘ is in working condition.

Declutter

Most of us have ‘hoarded’ furniture, trinkets, clothing, gadgets, books – you name it, we surely have it stashed somewhere in the house. Try to remove all the items that make your rooms look crammed (and smaller). A room that has only the furniture and few decorations will look spacious, modern and clean, thus giving a better impression. Experienced appraisers can see through the mess and clutter, but you wouldn’t want to risk anything.

Showcase what’s great in your home

All houses, even the ones that don’t really look impressive, have ‘something’ that sets them apart and makes them nice (the reason you live there, right?). Make sure you show off those qualities, they can improve the way your house is appraised.

Give your appraiser space

There’s nothing more annoying for someone who needs to assess your home value, than have you follow them around every second. Make sure you are there for any questions and information, though, but do let the professional do the job.

Create a nice atmosphere

OK, it’s not like you’re dating your appraiser, but the home should be welcoming: the right temperature (not too hot during summer or cold during winter), a nice smell, clean look. You’ll say (and rightfully so), that these shouldn’t matter. We’re dealing with humans though, and few details can matter. I remember back when we visited our friends in NYC, they did get an appraiser there. While he cared for the house’s ‘specs’, we did prepare in advance: cleaning, decluttering etc. He got a good appraisal and was very happy with it.

What would you also consider to be some good home appraisal tips? Would you consider some of these as not important? What worked for you?

21 COMMENTS

  1. I never refinanced homes, so didn’t have to bother with appraisals, but I did purchase a house and most of these tips are also important if you try to sell your house. I took into account a lot of things and details before signing the papers for our dream home.

  2. I like what you mentioned about cleaning up the outside of the house and making sure that the landscape looks good. This is super effective because it really doesn’t cost you anything and when the yard looks good it will get appraised better. I know that when I look to buy a house I will pay a lot of attention to how much work I will have to put into the yard. If the yard is in good shape it just sends a better feeling and it gives me a greater vision of what the house can look like.

    • Well this is something that I am betting goes under-considered by a lot of people out there, but it really does make a difference. It also matters the yards of others around you, believe it or not. I still have a vivid memory of my father building up the nerve to join some other neighbors in confronting a fellow neighbor about their yard, which nicely put he had let get away from him a bit. It really dampens the look of the whole neighborhood, and when it comes to appraisals every little bit counts. Interesting stuff, and thanks for sharing.

  3. Ramona, so will changing the landscape of your home bring the value of the home and its property up? If so, then I’m thinking about doing some landscaping changes to my yard. Mainly because the yard itself is full of tumbleweeds and some bad plants.

    • I strongly believe these small details make a big difference! An appraiser might be an expert and can overlook certain unpleasant details, but the truth is, a human being is coming into your home and will literally “judge” it. Better be safe than sorry ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thinking like that is good thing to keep in mind. I remember selling our first house and I was amazed at what people saw and some of the questions that they asked. I remember studying the house almost and leaning a lot about the wiring and things like that, and getting all mad because everyone kept asking questions that I did not expect. Our agent was pretty prepared though, so she saved us a few headaches along the way.

  4. I bought my home as a fixer upper. My hope was to fix it up and sell it for several times the original value. Could I do some refinancing of the home loan after submitting these upgrade costs to the insurance company?

    • Hello, Bryan and welcome to PFtoday.

      Unfortunately I cannot advise you in this matter, the best solution is to actually go and talk to the insurance company and find out what their requirements/offers are. Even if we do agree here with a game plan, their opinion actually matters ๐Ÿ™‚

      Anyway … congratulations for the purchase. I am sure it’s thrilling to make a house better, I’d love to do this, provided we had the financing for the initial house.
      Ramona recently posted…The 11 Top Benefits of Having a Company BlogMy Profile

  5. De-cluttering is so important before an appraisal. It doesn’t matter how large your space is – if it’s extremely cluttered, difficult to navigate around, and you can’t see floor-to-ceiling without lots of distractions, the space will look smaller. That’s perhaps the most important tip.

  6. Good tips for making the appraisers life a bit easier. Even if he loves pets, you shouldn’t make him deal with yours while he’s trying to do his job. Thanks so much for the advice!

    • I agree. Some of these things may seem little and unimportant, but they go a long way to making a great impression and creating good relationships with people, whether personal or business. These tips are sure to come in handy for anyone who is looking to get their home appraised. Great piece. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I like your focus on making your estate look nice while it’s getting appraised. A clean, orderly home goes a long way. Having your home be cluttered or in disrepair can hide some of its good features and make it seem less valuable. Making sure to clean up your home inside and out is one of the simplest ways to help the estate appraiser have a more positive impression. Thanks for the tips!

  8. Fabulous share!!

    You should remove excess furniture that will help to maximum space and if anything doesn’t work then get it replaced or fixed. Moreover if there is anything special in your home, then you must point it out. As these small things matter a lot while dealing with a property appraiser.

  9. Hi RAMONA,

    Nice sharing.

    We all know that low appraisals are becoming a bigger problem for many would-be buyers and refinances as home values have started to stabilize and rise in some markets. And according to me know what adds the most value. And I like the point of cleaning home that you have mentioned in this post.

    Because if you have everything in proper manner then it will help in increasing your home value.

  10. Not a lot of people are really sure about what they need to do before having an appraisal done, so it is great to have some advice. I especially like that you remind people to keep their pets fairly calm and out of the way. After all, you want to make sure that the appraiser is able to do their job in peace when they come around to do it.

  11. A lot of sellers take the time to declutter their home, but forget to add that special something that sets their home apart from the rest. That is integral in the real estate market. Great read!

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