Understanding the Appraisal Process
To capitalize on these tips, maximum home appraisal value considerations require a thorough understanding of the process involved. In simplest terms, a bank appraisal establishes a home’s fair market value in current market conditions. Please note that this process is radically different from a realtor appraisal (also known as a comparative market analysis), which merely serves to arrive at a feasible asking price for a property. In some cases, the fair market value and the asking price may be different, depending on additional property features or niche appeal.
An appraiser is a state-certified professional who has no financial interest in the property or the real estate transaction. The appraiser visits the property and prepares a report that compares and contrasts the home to like properties(1) in the immediate area. She or he highlights positives and negatives about the subject property, such as a well maintained landscape or poor access from the road to the home. Even though tips for a good home appraisal must stress that it is not a home inspection, an appraiser notices similar problems with a home, such as foundation problems, broken windows or a dilapidated roof. All of these items subtract value from a home’s worth.
Help! The Home did not come in at the needed Appraisal Value!
If you are buying or selling a home and paid for the appraisal, you have the legal right to receive a copy of the report prepared by the professional(2). Double-check the facts and figures to make sure the appraiser gave the property credit for its full size and did not miss any important features of the home. If there are errors on the report, request that the bank send out another appraiser for a re-examination.
Unfortunately, there are a number of variables that a consumer cannot control which, nevertheless, factor into the preparation of an appraisal. Examples include supply and demand of similar properties at the present time, economic changes to the area that may result in a sudden spike of foreclosures and drag down home prices overall in a given Zip code, as well as government actions that result in zoning changes.
Hedging Bets: Setting up the Property for Maximum Value
Even though there are a number of variables that are clearly not within the property owner’s control, a consumer can ensure his property receives a maximum appraisal value by acting on the items that are indeed within his sphere of influence. Examples include:
- Heighten a home’s curb appeal. Quick fixes, such as a coat of exterior paint, a once-over by a landscaper, new flower beds, and small repairs to window screens and sprinkler heads make a huge difference.
- Heighten the neighborhood’s curb appeal. If the neighbors on either side have a hard time keeping up with the yard work, ask if you may mow their lawns and do just a bit of front yard cleanup. The neighbors are sure to appreciate the help while the immediate neighborhood immediately rises in appeal.
- Differentiate the home from a comp. If the comparable home down the block just put in new windows, spruce up the windows on your home and add a new door as well. If the comp just put in new sod, put in a new lawn (or renovate an existing lawn) and add new flower beds or shrubs.
- Hire a home inspector. Learn from the inspection report and fix big problems that affect the value of the home – such as a crumbling foundation – and also focus on little deal breakers, such as the yellowing ceiling tiles.
- Compile a list of recent upgrades. It is permissible to give the appraiser a list of recent upgrades(3) (complete with dollar values) you made to the property. This includes the purchase of new appliances, the cost of a new roof or sprinkler system, the upgrade of a driveway slab, or the installation of a backyard pool.
Of course, none of these tips for a maximum home appraisal value truly help the consumer who has an eye on a home that is simply over-priced for the neighborhood in which it sits.
Photo Credit: “House” by Ljh3822/Wikimedia Commons at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:House.jpg