Tips for Acing the Appraisal | St. Johns Bank

While selling your home may be a bit less stressful than buying a home, there are still some parts of it you’ll need to pay attention to. Among those is the appraisal, a required step for anyone who needs to borrow money to make a purchase.

Unlike the home inspection that focuses on details inside and out, the appraisal is all about establishing the value of your home and pays less attention to issues and improvements. That’s something you can change with a bit of effort, though, and doing so can mean you get a better deal for your place.

What Is the Appraisal?

So the basics of it are what we said above: A professional checks out the property to determine how much it’s actually worth and whether that amount is at least equal to the contract price. And, as we said, the appraisal isn’t meant to be as comprehensive as the home inspection. In fact, the appraiser won’t even come in the house in most cases.

Instead, the process is typically done through a drive-by that will include photos of the exterior of the property. From there, the appraiser reviews the particulars of the home, such as heated square footage and the room types, to get a better idea of the property. He or she will use those details to identify comparable properties nearby that have sold recently.

The definitions of “nearby” and “recently” can change based on the market conditions. If you’re in a rural area with few neighbors around, the appraiser may extend the search area or be lax in finding closely comparable properties.

If the real estate market in your area saw significant change recently, such as a recession that tanked prices or new development that boosted them, this can also take some flexibility.

Boosting the Value

In many cases, ensuring your property gets high marks from the appraiser can help ensure you get the value from the sale that you should. Given how hands-off appraisals typically are, this can be a challenge, but there are some ways to put your home’s best foot forward.

1. Think first impressions. Appraisers are professionals at this, but they’re also humans, so first impressions still matter. If the exterior of the house needs a little love, give it a pressure wash and a new coat of paint. A well-maintained yard and tended gardens can also help with the exterior look the house will get. Work on that curb appeal.

2. Address outstanding issues. If you still have a copy of the appraisal from when you purchased the home and it includes issues you still haven’t fixed, you’ll want to get on those because there’s a good chance they’ll be picked up again. Otherwise, don’t let any deferred maintenance linger for this part of the process.

3. Ask the appraiser in. If your appraiser intends to only evaluate the property from the outside, you may be able to ask that the appraiser give the property a quick look inside or at least come onto the property if it’s a large parcel and you’re concerned he or she may miss important elements.

4. Document your work. If you’ve made improvements or particularly if you expanded the structure, let the appraiser know. That may not be immediately apparent, and you want to get credit for your hard work and ensure the properties identified as comparable truly are.

If you’re ready to start the process of selling your place and buying a new one, the mortgage experts at St. Johns Bank are ready to walk with you through the process. Call us today to learn about your financing options and get started!