Home appraisals are necessary for a few different scenarios:

  • Preparing to sell your home
  • Refinancing
  • Applying for a home equity loan
  • Applying for other types of loans who may want to use your home as collateral
  • Appealing your property taxes.

Preparing your home for an appraisal is different than preparing your home for a buyer. Homebuyers need to be triggered emotionally. They need to be able to imagine themselves hosting parties in the dining room. Or playing with their children in the backyard. Appraisers view your home with a more technical eye. They’re less attached. The appraiser is not daydreaming while touring your home… they’re looking for improvements and inconsistencies.

Technically, it shouldn’t matter if your lawn is unmowed and your house is cluttered. But preparing your home for an appraisal is a lot like preparing for a first date. You may have a good soul… but you need to be well-groomed to convince your date of your attractiveness.

But first, It’s important to know:

What Are Appraisers Looking for?

  • The overall condition of your home (interior and exterior)
  • Total room count (more value is added to more bedrooms and bathrooms) 
  • Functional obsolescence 
  • The functionality of layout and amenities 
  • Improvements to the big 4: roofing, electrical, heating, and plumbing
  • Increased amenities (hot tubs, detached garages, decks, pools, etc) 
  • Location value 
  • Any unappealing features. Specifically, if your home’s appearance is inconsistent with the rest of the neighborhood.

How to Prepare Your Home for The Appraisals

  1. Review Previous Appraisals

Before you make any changes, check the archives. It’s like when a professor tells you your final exam will be “open book”. Past appraisal documents are a cheat sheet.  You’ve got a behind-the-scenes look. What features contributed to lower appraisals in the past? Have these items been addressed?  If not, tackle these items first!

  1. Clean, Contain, Declutter 

First things first, declutter the house. Stuff everything into a closet if you have to… just make sure that your space looks tidy. Launder the sheets and make the beds. Vacuum, mop, and shampoo the carpet.

Clean the spaces that you don’t usually hit on your weekly cleaning rounds. Places like behind the fridge and under the couch. Think of it like a really deep spring cleaning. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service (Madison has some very reasonable, affordable options!).

If you have pets, make sure the house has no sign of pet life. No pet smells, fur clumps, or teething marks on the door frames.

  1. Curb Appeal and First Impressions 

Your curb appeal is the first impression the appraiser will have, so make this count. Power wash your driveway, porch, deck, and patio spaces. If you don’t own a power washer, you can rent one from your local home depot.

Mow and edge your lawn. In winter, make sure ice and snow are cleared from your walkways and driveways.

In summer, weed the garden thoroughly. Add flowers and shrubs to your front yard. Dead trees are a big liability and can impact the risk value of your home. If you have any questionable trees, consider removing them.

  1. Minor Repairs and Replacements 

If the paint is chipping anywhere in your home, sand it down and repaint it. If your sink faucets have clouded through the years, replace them with something shinier. If you have a broken doorknob, replace it.

If you’re not sure whether or not to fix the issue, mind the $500 rule. Immediately fix problems that cost $500 or less to fix. When your appraiser is inspecting your home, $500 problems can add up. Suddenly small fixes have resulted in thousands of dollars of decreased home value.

  1. Check Safety Equipment 

Make sure that all of your home safety equipment is working properly. This means carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, or any home security systems.  

  1. Don’t be afraid to point things out to your appraiser 

Make sure you’re home when the appraiser comes by. Point things out to them that they may have missed. Point out any and every improvement that you’ve made to the home. Mention any community growth or local amenities. Were wheelchair ramps added to the library? Mention it. Was your local high school just named the best in the county? Let them know! Is there an amazing new coffee shop biking distance from your home? Offer to grab them a coffee! Is your HOA planning on building a pool next summer? Tell them how excited you are. Fearlessly advocate for your home and your neighborhood. 

Didn’t get the appraisal you were hoping for? 

You can always get a second opinion! If you’re listing your home with The Hub, we’re always happy to do a walk-through with you. Sometimes it’s helpful for someone who doesn’t see your living spaces every day to look at your space with a critical eye. Plus, we’re very in-tune with the industry values. We know which quick fixes will help increase your home’s value. Never hesitate to send us an email or drop us a DM on social media.