14 Tips to Maximize Your Home Appraisal
While rates still remain near historic lows, if you’re looking to refinance your mortgage, much depends on your home appraisal. Appraisals are based on recent sales prices of comparable properties in your area.
Since the housing crisis, home values have stabilized and risen in many markets. But even in rising markets, sales prices may not be high enough to support new deals.
If your appraisal is low, you may not be able to refinance at all. Or you might face less favorable loan terms, including paying for private mortgage insurance.
But the good news is that there are many options in your effort to maximize your home appraisal. With a higher assessment, you’ll likely have more loan options available, including lower interest and better payments.
If you walk into a dirty home, it’s easy to assume it has not been properly maintained. This may or may not be true, but why leave it to chance? Your home should seem as though it’s been treated with tender love and care. So shine the mirrors, wipe down those windows, clean the carpets, and be sure your home is odor-free.
A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in enhancing a room. It’s one of the least expensive ways to make a better impression.
Also, replace any broken light bulbs and make sure all lights in your house are on during the appraisal.
Cluttered rooms not only seem smaller and darker, they’re also difficult for appraisers to measure. Be sure to make all areas of your home accessible including the garage, basement, and attic. Even consider giving away or storing items you no longer use.
Make Small Repairs
Small, easily fixable defects can make a big negative impression. It’s best to address broken windows, squeaky floorboards, damaged light fixtures, and leaky faucets. By tackling overdue DIY projects, you minimize the chances of the further unnecessary deductions from the
appraisal of your home.
Prioritize High Value Improvements
According to CNBC, if you’re going to do minor renovations, start with the kitchen and bathroom. Consider low cost upgrades like removing wallpaper, refinishing laminate countertops, painting cabinets, and replacing old light fixtures. With a few updates, you could
positively impact the valuation of your home.
Enhance Curb Appeal
Quite simply, curb appeal is huge. It creates the vital first impression. The San Francisco Chronicle recommends getting rid of yard clutter such as tools and toys. Also, consider planting a few brightly colored flowers. And at a minimum, be sure the lawn is cut, shrubs are trimmed, and the driveway and sidewalk are swept.
Collect Evidence of Improvements
If you’ve done work to maintain or improve your residence, you should provide your appraiser receipts to back up your claims. Before-and-after photos of improvements are also quite helpful. Your home is being compared to other similar properties in the area, so be able to point out why yours has more to offer.
Research Your Area and Provide Your own Comps
Provide your appraiser at least three comparable properties in your area. This will save the appraiser time and ensure he or she is getting price information to homes that are truly similar to yours.
Additionally, doing your research well in advance allows you to make educated decisions about home improvement projects.
Consider having Your Home Inspected before Appraisal
Having your home inspected prior to appraisal can give you a solid idea of how your home measures up to others in the area. Also, if you suspect any possible structural issues, the inspection could potentially bring these to light.
Ask a Friend to View Your House
On a more cost-effective route, you could ask a friend to inspect your home. Another set of eyes may be able to spot problems you overlooked. Have your friend record his or her observations. Also, in addition to the interiors rooms, have your friend consider the exterior of the house.
Call Local Appraisers
Local appraisers may be willing to provide suggestions to enhance your home’s value. There’s no harm in asking, right?
Hire an Experienced Local Appraiser
As previously mentioned, the value of your home is based heavily on the market value of similar homes in the area. It only makes sense to hire an appraiser who has many years of experience and is well versed in your local market.
If you don’t know where to start, consider asking a local real estate agent or mortgage broker for recommendations.
Talk up the Town
Has your town recently seen an increase in school rankings? Has a hot new shopping center popped up? Any interesting new museums?
Point out these enhancements to the appraiser so that he or she takes these into consideration.
Give the Appraiser some Space
The goal is to make an impression, not be an annoyance. According to Forbes: “To present the appraiser with all the great information you’ve gathered, you need to do so diplomatically, or all your efforts could be wasted.”
Once you’ve presented your Intel, allow the appraiser to do his or her job undisturbed. Otherwise, if you hover, you could make it seem like you have something to hide.
A Final Suggestion
If you’re looking to refinance, the best place to start may be a local community bank like the Bank of Southside Virginia. Most banks offer refinancing, but with local roots, your community bank may take more time to help you understand all the variables in determining your best option.