“Having a home appraisal done in the coming week. Any advice? Anything we should do to prepare? I’m nervous!” I found this question online recently, and the replies were shocking!

1. if you are reasonable your appraiser will likely be reasonable too,
2. there’s not a lot you can do in a week’s time, and
3. try to distract the appraiser from anything you are worried about.

What a diverse and disappointing reaction to that question!

The best way to add EXTRA VALUE within a short time is to finish out an existing space to increase your FINISHED LIVING AREA. That project will take a little cash and a few days of work, but it IS POSSIBLE. That’s probably your best shot at adding extra value to your home.

But getting the highest appraisal is based on more than just ‘adding’ value. If your home is not in the best possible condition, you will ‘loose’ potential value. So by giving your home a good week’s worth of going over, you can do a great deal to assure it is in tip-top shape when your appraiser knocks on the door.

Grab a trash bag and start throwing out junk. Typically the less cluttered and ‘knick-knacky’ your house looks, the more cared for and impressive it will appear, whether it be to a potential buyer or your appraiser. After you’ve gotten agressive with the trash bags, move on to other areas are highly visible.

Go over your home with fine tooth comb. Write down things you notice and use a critical eye! Ask a trusted friend to come over to ‘inspect’ your home with you. Your friend will have fresh eyes to notice things you could miss simply because of familiarity. Fix anything you see that needs attention, including even simple things like loose door handles. Small things like this are indicators to the appraiser that the home is not being cared for properly enough to retain it’s potential worth.

Now roll your sleeves up and get serious. Giving your kitchen cabinet and bathroom vanity doors a good scrubbing to remove built-up grim and grease, then wiping with a soft cloth and good furniture finishing oil will make them look nearly new and possibly even of better quality. While we’re talking about cabinets, make sure all hinges and knobs are tightly attached.

Now get on your knees, not to pray, although that is certainly a good idea. Give your wood floors and baseboards some serious TLC. Just like your wood cabinets, cleaning built-up grim and a good wipe with your finishing oil will make them look like new. Do the same if you have crown molding.

Unpleasant smells can also lower your appraised value as the appraiser is smart enough to know your carpet needs attention. Again, ask that friend to tell you if your home has unpleasant odors. Renting a carpet shampooer from your local store will work wonders. Be sure to purchase appropriate carpet products to remove pet odors and other unpleasant smells. For an extra few dollars, it will make a big difference.

Finally, tackle your yard and home exterior. Get a trash bag and throw out every bit of junk! If necessary, pay someone to haul off heavy objects like an car transmission or old tires. It will be money well spent. Clean your yard, wash down your porches and railings. Do a quick pressure-wash of your roof, if it looks bad. Now, just trim your shrubs back, mow your grass and set out a few colorful potted plants near your front door. Making a good first impression is always important. After all, you want the appraiser to feel YOUR home is in better condition than the sale comparables he’ll use for comparison. If he’s impressed enough with your home, he may give you additional value for being in better condition than the sale comps.

If you’re short on time, don’t be shy about asking a few friends to pitch and make the magic happen over a weekend. Reward them with a cookout later or promise to return the favor sometime for them.

Sherie Smith
Certified General Real Estate Appraiser and Consultant, Copyright 2010


Leave a Reply