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What to Do to Get the Best Home Appraisal

by Steve Lander, studioD

When an appraiser comes to estimate the value of your home, he will carefully analyze what he sees, compare it to other properties on the market and come up with a value based on what he thinks a buyer would pay for your property. To maximize your appraised value, you must position your home so that the appraiser can see a buyer paying more for it. Fixing up the property, freshening its appearance and describing its attributes are all ways to increase its perceived value.

Prepare Property Information

Before the appraiser comes to your property, prepare a dossier on your property that you will give her. The dossier should include basic facts on the property, such as its square footage, the size of its lot, and number of bedrooms. This will help prevent the appraiser from making errors of fact that lead to an artificially low value. Your dossier should also include a detailed and dated list of all of the improvements that you've made to the property so that the appraiser can take them into account. You may also want to include information on recent comparable sales in your market, especially if they point to a higher value for your property.

Increase Curb Appeal

Just like buyers, appraisers form an opinion of your property when they first drive up to it. Some of the least expensive things you can do, like picking up litter and clutter from your yard, mowing your lawn and trimming your shrubbery can add value to your home. You can also go further by planting some flowers, repainting your front door to make it look more impressive and pressure-washing your home's exterior and its driveway. These fixes don't have to cost a lot of money.

Prepare the Interior

The interior of your house should also be cleaned up so that the appraiser can not only see your property in the best light but also get a sense that the home is well-maintained. Declutter your surfaces, which both increases the perceived amount of space as well as makes it easier for the appraiser to see and measure the home. If you have special features that are hidden, like an elaborate closet organization system, make them visible by leaving doors open or subtlely guiding the appraiser to them. Fixing any cosmetic issues with your home, such as carpet stains, scuffed paint or cracked tile will also help to increase the perceived value of your home.

Make Necessary Repairs

An appraisal might not be a great time to go through your house and replace everything, but it's important that your house and its systems be in good working order. If a faucet leaks or a toilet runs, repair it. Make sure that every fixture has working light bulbs and finish any repairs or cosmetic improvements that you have started.

Making Major Improvements

If you make a major improvement to your home, you might increase its appraised value. However, most improvements cost more than the value that they add. For example, research cited in SmartMoney indicates that new bathrooms pay back 65 percent to 75 percent of their cost while finished basements pay back about 75 percent. In other words, if you spend $20,000, you'll only create $13,000 to $15,000 in value.

About the Author

Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.

Photo Credits

  • Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images