Seller Tips to Prepare for a Real Estate Appraisal
Whether you’ve decided to sell your house, refinance it or simply want to know its value, you need an appraisal. In the world of real estate, an appraisal is when a licensed professional evaluates your home to give an estimate of what it could be worth on the market, it is an opinion of value. However, although you cannot magically raise the market value of your property, you can always conduct a bit of research and educate yourself regarding the whole process so you can fill any gap in your knowledge and aim for a higher price evaluation. Properly preparing for a home appraisal can make a world of a difference. That’s because all minor defects will cost you in the evaluation, however, do not try to hide them away because they will be discovered during the inspection. Moreover, it is to your advantage to try and fix problems ahead of time. With a small time investment on your part, minor defects can easily be solved by you which will lead to an increase in the overall price evaluation of the property. A fair price on your side and a happy buyer on their side!
With little to no experience regarding home selling, such a process can become a little overwhelming. Keep in mind that we are talking about personal assets, as such, things can get a little emotional, this is true for both home sellers and home buyers. It is therefore important to keep your emotions in place and understand that the real estate agent will look at your house from a completely objective point of view, with no feelings involved, as such their perspective is valuable for you. They might suggest a price that is lower than what you expected, however, if you prepare for the appraisal, many less favorable situations can be avoided. As a note, be prepared for less-than-ideal situations and have questions in mind for the real estate agent on what could make your offering more attractive for prospective home buyers. They will make sure to share their ideas, but it is always good to show initiative for improvement and leave a good first impression.
If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. To demystify the process, we’ve got you covered with this list of what you need to pay attention to, as well as tips on how to best prepare for an appraisal.
Create a Checklist
Whenever you start browsing for a home to buy or to sell, or an apartment to rent, it’s important to have it properly inspected, and having a checklist for this inspection can be quite beneficial. A checklist will help with making sure you went through all the tasks and looked at all things pertaining to the property, inside and out. Remember, a prospective buyer will look at every detail before making a decision as for some this might prove to be the biggest purchase of their life.
When you’re the seller and the home is already yours, put yourself in the shoes of someone who is seeing this house for the first time, and try to determine the areas you’d look at that could make or break the deal. Think about different aspects or facilities you’d like your house to have going well, think about what significant problems could a house have to make you skip the offer and look for alternatives; all these personal preferences might be true for a prospect as well, we are all human after all. Here you can also ask a friend for help, ask them to look inside your house, their opinions are just as valuable in creating an action plan. Moreover, an appraiser will also have a list of things to check, so hopefully, you will overlap in certain areas to make your appraisal even more successful.
In any case, before you start going around the house to check for what needs cleaning and fixing, create a checklist to make sure you’re not missing any issue that the appraiser might find. From the landscape and the exterior of the building to the plumbing systems, check everything, including: common areas; bathroom fixtures; appliances; the electrical system; windows and doors; the HVAC system; walls; ceilings; and floors, as well as any storage spaces and what you have in them.
Clean Your Home
With the aforementioned list in hand, go around the home and check all areas, writing down what needs to be cleaned or fixed — and be specific. Dirty windows or floors, for instance, can shift the attention away from real items of value in your offer. Make sure your kitchen and bathroom look clean and sparkling. If you feel like you need help, you can always hire a professional or a cleaning company after carefully assessing your opportunity costs. Ask yourself ‘should I clean and possibly lose valuable time?’, ‘can I do a good job of cleaning everything in due time?’ or ‘should I hire a professional team that will do the job efficiently and fast, while I take care of other important things?’. However, if you do decide to hire them, make sure you guide them in their cleaning process to ensure that you’ll end up with a clean space even in the more tough-to-reach places, such as behind and under furniture and appliances; the corners of every room; lighting fixtures; and windows. As mentioned before, prospective buyers will look at everything, inside and out, so make sure hallways and any common spaces are clean as well, in the case of an apartment building.
Remove Distractions and Clutter
Another thing that could increase your appraisal is to remove clutter and distractions. You want the agent to see each room and be able to assess its size and value. Additionally, removing or rearranging excess furniture has the potential of making a house seem brighter and more inviting, as well as helping with a better flow of traffic. It is important that the overall feeling of the house is welcoming. Lastly, make sure your pets are not at home, you don’t want them to be noisy and distracting. The same goes for your relatives or any people that do not normally live with you.
Fix What Can Be Fixed
Small updates and easy to fix details like new light bulbs can improve the aesthetics of your property and make it seem brighter. Do a house tour and make sure everything is in order and working. If you notice anything broken or damaged, take the time to fix them as best as you can. Or, if you encounter more complicated issues — such as damage to your plumbing or electrical systems — ask a professional for help and get them fixed before your appraisal. By doing so, it will cost you less than the money you would lose on the evaluation. You don’t want the agent to think the house isn’t well maintained, you want them to see and believe everything is in perfect condition. Here you aim for value. Home improvement projects do not need to be difficult or expensive to make a difference!
Make sure your walls are clean and if they aren’t, paint them. Nothing compares with fresh walls in making a house seem clean and new. If you’re feeling creative and you have some time on your hands, choose a bright color and try to make different shapes on the wall, stripes for instance! There are various tutorials online about creative wall art that requires a minimum of time and talent. As always, you still have the alternative to hire a professional team or ask a friend for help. Friends can also help with suggestions on how the house feels overall and whether there is something less appealing to it that you could consider changing. You want as many insights as you can get.
Add Plants & Make it Homey
Meanwhile, the right staging can make all the difference. Make sure that all changes and updates are tasteful and simple, remember to avoid clutter and keep it elegant. After you’ve cleaned and fixed your home, stage it properly by adding plants in every room to make them seem less bare. In real-estate ‘staging’ refers to the process of redecorating a property to appeal to potential buyers. This will help make the home feel more lived-in and cozy to make a good impression. Similarly, add the proper decor and make the home smell nice. Whether that’s with some freshly cut flowers, potpourri, or home-baked cookies, a nice scent will make the appraiser appreciate the home more. Appealing to all senses is key, so make sure no surfaces are greasy or dirty, especially doorknobs and light switches.
More on Home Décor
Remove personal décor and add new frames; here you’re aiming for something neutral, impersonal yet elegant. Trade-in old objects like lamps for similar ones in different shades that work well with the newly painted walls. Make sure the colors in each room are coordinated and follow a general theme. Try rugs or pillows for an extra bit of color. Lastly, have your audience in mind when decorating your house to be sold, what age group are you aiming to sell to? What are their wants and needs? As you probably already know, younger generations aim for less décor as they lead a quiet minimalist lifestyle. Follow trends, as a house that seems fresh to the market, has high chances of getting a high appraisal.
Don’t Forget about the Landscape
In the case of a yard or garden, make sure it is cleaned, make sure the grass is freshly cut before your agent arrives. If you have a bit of time and you’re planning the sale of the house some months ahead, make sure you plant some flowers and have an irrigation system in place. Having a well-maintained yard and garden will help your evaluation. And lastly, make sure your garage area is clean and organized as that is visible to the viewer.
Document Your Efforts
Show your agent you care about the prospective new homeowners by documenting any updates you’ve been working on. Show the agent the added value of your efforts by listing the improvements in an excel sheet and going through them in front of him. Lastly, have a list of community facilities close to your property. Facilities like a new gym or a new library, a children’s park might appeal to buyers as it signifies it is a growing community and it is safe.
Ask Your Agent to Weigh In
Real estate agents have valuable experience with these evaluations, so don’t be afraid to ask for their opinion on what you should prepare and how you should present the house. Moreover, take them on a tour of the space and ask what they notice and how you can improve. Agents can be especially helpful in placing your home in the context of the neighborhood or area. Comparing your home to surrounding buildings is also an important part of the appraisal process, so make sure you know what’s around you and how your home fits into the market. Find houses similar to yours regarding the space you provide but also the different features of your house and see where you position yourself on the market and what price you should be asking for. The real-estate agent should be able to provide such type of information.
After you’ve taken care of these aspects, prepare to meet with the appraiser. Don’t feel overwhelmed, but rather take issues one at a time and prioritize them to make sure you solve the most important aspects first. Finally, try not to be nervous when meeting the appraiser. Instead, talk openly and honestly about your home, and make sure you highlight its strengths and capitalize on them. Good luck!
Tips to Prepare For A Real Estate Appraisal