12 Things to Watch with a Home Appraisal

Updated: Dec. 20, 2023

Whether buying or selling a house, knowing what goes into an appraisal is valuable knowledge. Check out some things to watch with a home appraisal.

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What can Boost an Appraisal

Discover says appraisers often value homes in $500 increments so it's likely worth fixing something that costs $500 or more. Also, curb appeal is always important during an appraisal as well as for buyers looking at the home. Know what to do after moving into a new home.
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Woman signs purchase agreement for a house
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Research the Comparabales

Look for home sales in the past three months. Appraisers only look at comparable homes sold in the last three months. Avoid trying to inflate the square footage of your home. The appraiser will know exactly how much square footage your home has.

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The Family Handyman

Check Out any Damage

Review the house and make note of any damage prior to the appraiser coming out. Either have it repaired before the visit or be sure to explain the damage to the appraiser.

Wall and ceiling repair doesn’t have to be difficult, check out 11 clever solutions.

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Chirping Smoke Detectors
Family Handyman

Have Safety Equipment Installed and Working

Make sure your smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and other safety devices are working properly. Also, be sure to have an up-to-date fire extinguisher.

Also, check out what type of fire extinguisher is best for home use.

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Make Sure Appraiser Knows of Improvements

Have your documents on the ready to show any home improvements you have made including additions, HVAC units, exterior work, roof and other remodeling.

Keep a binder of appliance manuals handy.

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curb appeal

Clean up the Yard

You want curb appeal when you put your house on the market but you also want some of it for the appraisal. A dead tree in the yard is eventually going to have to come out. Make your house look vibrant with flowers or a coat of paint to improve curb appeal.

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Is the Appraiser From the Area?

Your appraiser should ideally come from a nearby place, ideally even a 10-mile radius. That’s so they are familiar with the neighborhood. It’s a good idea to ask how long the appraiser has worked in the industry along with which data sources they use beyond the MLS. Appraisers Forum is a good spot to see what to ask.

Be sure to always talk to the neighbors when looking for a house. They’re going to tell you what the Realtor won’t.

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Be Aware of Recent Developments

If the area near your home is seeing growth or there are plans for future developments, let the appraiser know. It might not be on their radar.

See how recent neighborhood developments can impact property taxes, too.

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Give the Appraiser Room to Work

Appraisers are likely greeted by eager home sellers all the time. But back off and let them work. You can make their work pleasant but don’t go overboard and trail them through every room. It’s likely to set off alarms.

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Review the Appraisal

Appraisers aren’t infallible so it’s important to review their work to verify the facts are correct. Square footage totals can vary from appraiser to appraiser.

See some quick ways to help make a home sell faster.

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How Appraisal Work Gets Handled

Lenders have outsourced appraisal work to Appraisal Management Companies for a long time but it became increasingly popular following the housing crisis. More than 60 percent of all U.S. residential appraisals performed each year are done through AMCs, according to the Real Estate Valuation Advocacy Association. Look into the AMC and if it has an adequate amount of appraisers. Regulations have made it tougher for new appraisers to gain entry into the profession and some long-time appraisers won’t work for AMCs.

Avoid real estate no-nos if you’re trying to sell your home.

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Home Appraisal Charges

With the rise of AMCs handling appraisal work, many homeowners are seeing an increased fee. That fee is not, however, all going to the appraiser. The AMC takes a chunk of that and then pays the appraiser from that.