A house appraisal is an important part of any real estate transaction, whether you’re purchasing a property with a mortgage, refinancing an existing mortgage, or selling your home to someone who isn’t paying cash. You’ll want to know how the appraisal process works and how an appraiser decides a home’s value if you’re a buyer, owner, or seller.
What is an appraisal?
A home appraisal is an unbiased, independent estimate of a property’s true (or fair market) value. During the mortgage loan process, all lenders order an appraisal so that they may analyze the home’s fair market worth and confirm that the amount asked by the borrower is suitable. Recent sales data for similar properties, the present state of the property, and the location of the property can all be included in the appraisal, giving insight into how the neighborhood affects the property’s value.
The appraisal report must include:
- A street map showing the appraised property and comparable sales used
- An exterior building sketch
- An explanation of how the square footage was calculated
- Photographs of the home’s front, back, and street scene
- Front exterior photographs of each comparable property used
- Other pertinent information—such as market sales data, public land records, and public tax records—that the appraiser requires to determine the property’s fair market value.
Who appraises the home and how do I know they will do a good job?
Appraisals are carried out by highly-trained specialists who are licensed and/or accredited to evaluate the worth of a home fairly, objectively, and without bias depending on the location of the property.
While no appraiser is perfect, the appraiser’s estimate of your home’s value is based on extensive training, multiple examinations, and often years of on-the-job experience, as well as mandatory continuous education. They must also back up every claim they make in their reports that has the potential to affect a home’s value. Appraisers and their employers (typically appraisal management firms) are subject to stringent regulations. Because the consequences of releasing intentionally deceptive or biased assessments can be severe, appraisers strive hard to stay factual, objective, and free of personal value judgments and preconceptions.
What are Appraisers really looking for?
Keep in mind that appraisers are interested in the condition of what is permanently attached to or part of the house. The physical qualities of your home (age, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, lot size, location, view) as well as their observable condition are more essential than the décor or furnishings or anything else that isn’t affixed to the property.
How can I boost my home’s appraisal value?
If you’re looking to sell your home, there are a number of relatively affordable things you can do to increase the appraised worth of your home.
Plaster cracks, water-stained walls, soiled carpeting, vermin, or chronic odors, on the other hand, may reduce the value of your home. To put your best face forward, patch the walls and undertake additional touch-up work.
- Houses are frequently valued in $500 increments by appraisers, so if there is a repair that can or should be made, make it.
- Repair any dripping faucets, broken windows, or crumbling ceilings.
- Take a look at your curb appeal.
- Overgrown grass and malfunctioning garage doors will work against you and your evaluation, especially if the neighborhood’s home values have dropped.
- Take the effort to make your home’s exterior look inviting, as if it were a location you’d like to buy or visit.
Make a list of the changes you’ve made. Make a list of all the repairs and upgrades you’ve done throughout the years, as well as when and how much they cost. Remember to include features that an appraiser might overlook, such as a new roof or insulation, as well as modest upgrades like a new kitchen sink. Please keep in mind that the changes are not a dollar-for-dollar boost in value, but every little bit helps!
Show your pride in your neighborhood. Let the appraiser know if there have been any beneficial changes in your community, such as new schools or roads.
Do not reveal your age. The newer your home looks to be, the better, regardless of its real age.
What can I do if I’m not happy with the Appraisal?
Once you’ve read the appraisal report and reviewed the appraiser’s supporting documents, many lenders will allow you to challenge it if you think it is inaccurate or doesn’t take into consideration new or important data about the property or comparable homes. Most lenders review appraisals through a strict system of checks and balances that compares the appraisal report to other appraisals on all known sales in your neighborhood. This internal review system can catch discrepancies that should be investigated, but any information you can provide to your lender will help.