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The Ultimate Home Appraisal Checklist

Dec 30, 2019

It goes without saying that you want to make as much back from the sale of your home as possible.

What doesn’t go without saying is how much your house is actually worth.

That’s why many homeowners have an appraisal done before they put their house on the market. If you don't get one done, you could risk pricing your house so high that no one wants it or too low that your profit margins suffer.

If you do decide to move forward with an appraisal, you'll want to go through this home appraisal checklist to make sure you're ready before you have your house valued by a professional.

How to Prepare for a Home Appraisal

Appraisals answer the all-important question, “How much is my house worth?”

As such, you should make every effort to prepare your house for an appraiser. Otherwise, you might get an answer you don’t like simply because your house wasn’t looking its best.

First, don’t confuse an appraisal with a home inspection. An inspection determines the condition of your house, whereas an appraisal establishes your home’s value. Specifically, an appraiser is interested in reporting its market value.

Second, get clear about what an appraiser will do to determine this value:

  • A property inspection – Appraisers will still carry out inspections but only for the sake of establishing your home’s worth.
  • An evaluation of local comparables  – Similar to a comparable market analysis, appraisers want points of reference to evaluate your home’s value relative to similar properties in the area.

Third, understand what a home appraisal is not.

It’s not an inspection of your home’s upkeep. While it never hurts to tidy up, some homeowners worry that the odd dirty dish in the sink or a child’s unmade bed will unfavorably tip the scales.

An appraisal is all about how much your home could potentially go for if sold in its current condition. As those kinds of housekeeping issues wouldn’t come up in a sale, they won’t come up in an appraisal, either.

What Does an Appraiser Look for?

Again, it makes sense that you’d want to prepare your home before an appraisal.

So, while some factors will be completely out of your hands, it’s worth knowing what the appraiser will look at.

The Exterior Appraisal

A good example of a feature you can’t influence but will most certainly matter to the value of your home is the size of your lot.

As we already touched on, the condition of your property will also come into play. The appraiser will look for any issues that would drop your home’s resale value. If your home was built before 1979, this will include looking for peeling paint and checking to see if it was made with lead.

They’ll also look for any features that would bolster its value (e.g. an inground pool).

Interior Appraisals

Inside your home, an appraiser will confirm the numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms in your house. The same goes for windows and closets. Although it won’t contribute to the square footage of your home, they’ll inspect your garage, as well.

They will also take note of all of your appliances and verify they’re all in working condition.

An appraiser will consider any upgrades you’ve made, too, whether it’s to something like a built-in appliance or your entire basement.

Your Home Appraisal Checklist

The most important items on any home appraisal checklist are those that require repairs. If at all possible, you will want to make those fixes before you list your house for sale, so you can price it higher.

As Discover points out:

“Appraisers often value houses in $500 increments, so if there’s a repair over $500 that can or should be made, do it. Fix leaky faucets, broken windows and cracked ceilings.”

Renovations that hide your home’s age can be a wise investment, too. Replacing old carpet or outdated amenities might improve your appraiser’s opinion.

Most importantly, make sure your house conforms to this home appraisal checklist:

  • A lack of plumbing issues (e.g. stains near spouts)
  • A roof that’s free of any leaks or damage
  • A working garage door and opener
  • Foundation free of water intrusion or damage
  • Functional air conditioning, electricity, and water
  • Utilities that function appropriately
  • Secure doors
  • Secure handrails along any steps
  • Secure railings along any raised decks
  • Walls and ceilings free of cracks

Again, what you should actually address depends entirely on your budget, but go through this checklist before a formal appraisal to avoid any surprises.

The FHA Home Appraisal Checklist

If you’re hoping to secure an FHA loan, your checklist will be a little different. That’s because the FHA won’t offer you a loan to close on a house if it requires certain repairs.

So, FHA home appraisals will look for things like:

  • Any signs of water damage
  • Damaged driveway and/or sidewalk
  • Damaged siding
  • Exposed floorboards
  • Grounded plugs or GFI outlets for outdoor electrical access
  • Leaking roofs
  • Peeling paint
  • Regular, two-pronged outlets within 10 feet of a water source
  • Unsecure wall studs

Even as the seller, this is important to keep in mind. FHA loans are popular, which means you could lose a lot of potential buyers if your home suffers from these problems.

The VA Home Inspection Checklist

Similarly, VA loans come with conditions. Although the Veteran’s Association makes every effort to extend these loans to its members, like the FHA, they can’t finance the purchase of a house that may be falling apart.

Therefore, in case a potential buyer may be using a VA loan to purchase your house, your home appraisal checklist should look for the following:

  • A functioning sewer system
  • A functioning water heater
  • Clean drinking water
  • Secure foundation
  • Sound roof
  • Working utilities (including air conditioning)

An appraiser will also want a pest inspection done to ensure the home isn’t secretly housing termites or other uninvited guests.

Get Advice from an Experienced Real Estate Agent

If you’re considering selling your house in the near future, it makes sense that you’d be thinking about hiring an appraiser first.

While the above home appraisal checklist will definitely help you prepare for their visit, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced real estate agent, too. They’ll be able to give you other pointers based on your unique home.

At SimpleShowing, we’d love to connect you with a real estate agent who can answer any questions you have about your home's value, an appraisal and so much more. Plus, if you decide to sell with our team, you’ll only pay a 1% listing fee.

Contact us today learn all about how SimpleShowing can help.

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