5 Ways Your Clients Can Get Homes Ready for Appraisal

How can your clients get homes ready for appraisal? We all know that one of the most important parts of a home transaction is the appraisal process, and sometimes it can seem a little mysterious. Why do homes appraise the way they do?

It’s actually pretty simple. An appraiser is looking at the bones of the home, plus a home’s quality, condition, size, location, and presence or absences of key features.

Here are some things you can do to help your clients’ homes appraise for top dollar. We hope you’ll share these with them!

1. Make Sure to Take Care of Those Little Fixes

It’s easy to live in a home for years and ignore that loose doorknob or leaky faucet, but you want appraisers to know that you’ve been taking care of your home. This means that you should fix all of those little annoying things you’ve been meaning to get to for months.

Look at your home with new eyes and make a list of DIY projects you can knock out on a weekend. These often include things like:

  • Loose floorboards
  • Leaky faucets
  • Running toilets
  • Full gutters
  • Loose stair railings
  • Small holes in the wall
  • Dirty or cracked grout
  • Burned-out light bulbs

Fixing these little things will help your home appear better overall, and they are inexpensive or free to do. (Bonus: doing these before your buyer’s home inspection will likely save you some grief down the road.)

2. Test All Safety Equipment and Major Systems in Your Home

Make sure all safety equipment in your home is working correctly. Test carbon monoxide alarms, smoke alarms, and home security alarms, and make sure that they aren’t past their expiration dates. Ensure that any smart locks or other smart home automation is also functioning properly.

Additionally, make sure all of the major systems in your home are clean and working properly.

3. Clean the Inside and Outside of Your Home

Home cleanliness technically doesn’t impact a home’s value, but you do want your home to be as pleasant and appealing as possible for an appraisal. You don’t want to create negative thoughts or bad first impressions, especially if it’s something you can change.

So, we tell people to clean their home like they’re preparing for a showing. Here are some of the major things you should do:

  • Clear clutter (both inside and outside)
  • Wash walls and baseboards
  • Clean carpet and wood floors
  • Clean windows and sliding doors inside and outside
  • Wipe down cabinet fronts
  • Power wash decks, driveway, and home exterior
  • Clean out gutters
  • Mow grass and trim shrubs and bushes
  • Remove dead trees and plants

Last, make sure you open up windows and doors about an hour before the inspection, both to protect everyone from COVID-19 and to air out odors.

4. Do Minor Upgrades that Increase Your Home’s Value

It may be worth your time to make minor upgrades to the home. The goal is for your home to look modern, clean, and updated.

Here are some minor upgrades to think about (talk to your real estate agent if you’re not sure what minor improvements to make). Typically, small renovations to the kitchen and bathroom are the most impactful to a home’s value, and improvements in the basement are the least impactful (since below-grade square footage doesn’t count the same way the rest of the square footage does).

  • Repaint with neutral colors
  • Update hardware
  • Replace linoleum or old vinyl flooring
  • Replace frosted glass shower doors
  • Fix or replace broken appliances
  • Add flowers and mulch to the yard
  • Plant small trees
  • Add landscape lighting
  • Paint the front door

Ultimately, a home appraisal is all about what buyers want and find value you in. That’s why a real estate agent can provide expert guidance for your neighborhood when it comes to the minor home improvements that are worth doing.

5. Catalog Home Improvements You’ve Done

Make it easy for an appraiser to see all of the home improvements you’ve done by creating a folder with before-and-after photos, a simple spreadsheet of what was spent on each renovation, and any other information you think they should know about what you did.

This folder should include things like additions, new siding or a roof, and upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms. You should also document improvements that are harder for an appraiser to see but can really boost an appraisal’s value, like new electrical wiring or a new HVAC system.

The Golden Rule as You Get Homes Ready for Appraisal

Last, the golden rule as you get homes ready for appraisal is to spend your money and time on things that clearly need attention and don’t stress over the things that aren’t broken. The buyer already likes your home, so focus on fixes that really do improve market value, and you should be in good shape for your upcoming appraisal.

A final note: If anyone in the house is sick, PLEASE call and reschedule the appraiser immediately and ask to reschedule.

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