Ace Your Home Appraisal with These Easy Steps


Whether you’re selling your home or refinancing your mortgage, preparing for appraisal can seem daunting, especially since it’s the last step of the loan closing. A higher appraisal can mean more options and assures the lender they are not lending more than the property is worth. If you’re refinancing and get a low appraisal, you could have fewer loan options and may even have to pay for private mortgage insurance. If you’re selling your home and it doesn’t appraise for the negotiated contract price, you could be forced to lower your asking price or worse, your contract could fall through. However, there are things you can do to help ensure you get the highest appraisal possible. Here are some things to consider when preparing for your appraisal:

First impressions are everything.

As the gatekeepers to the value, home appraisers are the most important person to keep in mind. An appraiser is a certified real estate inspector that uses their expert and unbiased opinion to examine the interior and exterior of your home. They will calculate its worth based on its size, condition, location, renovations and more.

Even though appraisers are supposed to be objective, they are still human. Make sure your home is clean inside and out. Mow the lawn, discard those dead plants, remove clutter, mop the floors. Prepare your home just as you would for a showing or open house (or, if you're refinancing, just as you would if your mother-in-law was coming to visit!). Your appraiser will notice.

Have your receipts handy.

Has your home been appraised before? Revisit the issues that lowered your home’s value and make sure they’re addressed. Any recent improvements can make a difference! Make a list of them with any permits, receipts and invoices to present. Have documents that verify your property size on hand or schedule a land survey before appraisal.

Want to impress the appraiser further? Make it easier for them to review by digitizing any relevant home improvement documents. Just remember, respect the appraiser’s space. While they’ll appreciate the extra documentation, there’s no need to make them suspicious by pushing them to review it.

Know your market.

The easiest way to get an estimate on your appraisal is to compare your home with similar properties in your area. Look on your local county’s appraisal district website or homebuying sites like Zillow to find out what properties have recently sold in your area. You’ll be better prepared to challenge a lowball appraisal if you have comps handy.

Small improvements can garner a big return.

From nail holes to broken windows and chipped paint, issues that seem minor to you can stand out to others. Patch up holes with caulk, replace cracked windows, apply a fresh coat of white or neutral colored paint on your walls, and repair broken floor tiles. While tedious, these tasks are quick wins.

Looking for more tips?

Explore our Home Buyer and Seller Corner where we cover everything from mortgage loan types to negotiating your real estate sales contract.