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What Do Home Appraisers Look At?

written by: NicoleHarms•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 8/20/2011

Understanding what is involved with a home appraisal will help you as you prepare for the appraiser's visit. The appraiser will look at the home's site, overall condition, neighborhood, safety, functional utility and exterior when assigning it a value.

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    Appraisers look at several factors, including exterior condition. If you are having your home appraised, you may be wondering what exactly is going to be reviewed when the appraiser arrives. Is this similar to a home showing where you need to spotlessly clean the home, or is the appraiser looking at something completely different? The answer may surprise you.

    The appraiser’s goal is to determine how much the home is worth, often so your bank can offer you an appropriate amount of money in some form of home loan. To do that, these professionals look at fundamental features of the home, like its structure and overall condition, rather than the less vital factors, like the color of the paint or carpeting on the floors. Understanding the aspects of your property the appraiser will consider may help you prepare for their visit and prevent you from worrying too much about factors that will not make a difference in the final result.

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    The Site

    Before the appraiser even comes to your property, he or she will spend time learning details about the site where your home is located. The site plays a role in how much your home is worth. The appraiser will consider the location, any views your home has and the lot size when assigning a value. Other considerations include utilities, zoning and the topography of the area. The appraiser will also notice some of the aspects about the site during the visit. External factors and landscaping, for instance, all factor into the value.

    In our Media Gallery you can download a free sample of what a typical Uniform Residential Appraisal Report looks like when it comes to how the appaiser will compare your homes to other homes in the same area.

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    The condition of your home is one of the primary reasons the appraiser must visit. These professionals look for renovations or upgrades that would improve the home’s value. They also look for added features, such as finished basements or sun rooms, that homes of similar size may not have. Of course, negative factors can impact the home’s condition, including deterioration and neglect. The age of the property is another factor appraisers will consider.

    Specifically, the appraiser is going to look at things like the condition of the windows, walls, flooring, plumbing and electrical wiring when inspecting the condition of the home. They are also trained to spot signs of pest problems, which will detract from the value of the home. General clutter does not necessarily detract from the appraisal process, provided it does not prevent the appraiser from seeing the condition of the home’s walls and flooring.

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    Appraisers want to see that a home is safe. They will inspect it for any code compliance problems or home improvements that were not done safely. For instance, if the homeowner added electrical outlets without having the finished result inspected, the value may decrease. Other safety features may include rails on the stairs and acceptable spacing between spindles shielding balconies or upstairs hallways. Structural integrity is also considered as well as smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

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    The neighborhood plays a role in how valuable the property can be. A stately mansion set in the middle of a ghetto is not going to be as valuable as a slightly smaller property set in a prestigious neighborhood. Appraisers offer the best values to homes that conform to the neighborhood around them.

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    Exterior Factors

    Appraisers will inspect both the interior and exterior of a property. When they look at the exterior, they want to see that it is well maintained and attractive. Mowing the lawn and weeding the garden can improve this impression. The appraiser will also look at the condition of the siding on the home, as well as any fencing, pavement, sidewalks and concrete steps leading to the home. Again, safety as well as overall condition both factor in to the final value of the property.

    Parking ability is another outdoor feature that factors into the overall value of the home. How much parking space you have and the number of cars that fit into the garage or carport will improve or detract from the value of your property. In general, the more parking you have, the better value you will have, as long as the parking specs do not detract from the home’s curb appeal.

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    Functional Utility

    The homes that get the best value from appraisers are those that are fully functional as they sit. If you have parts in your home that do not work, like an unfinished bathroom with a toilet that does not flush or an air conditioner that is no longer functional, you will have a lower appraisal. Appraisers do not care about the future upgrades you plan to make to the property. They are evaluating the functional utility as the property stands in its current condition.


  • Turner, Craig. “What Do Appraisers Look for When Determining a Property Value.” First Priority Finance.
  • Image: House in Vancouver by pnwra under CC 2.0 License