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6 Home Appraisal Dos and Don'ts for Home Sellers

Appraisals can be a make or break moment for sellers. Whether you receive a bad or great appraisal, the outcome can have a big impact on how much your home sells for. To get the best results, here are the dos and don'ts of home appraisals.

Appraisals can be a make or break moment for sellers. Whether you receive a bad or great appraisal, the outcome can have a big impact on how much your home sells for. To get the best results, here are the dos and don'ts of home appraisals.

Understandably appraisals can put sellers on edge — 20% of appraisals cause home sales to be delayed which can unfortunately lead to sales ultimately falling through. If nerves already have you sweating profusely, know that you don't need to panic yet.

To help you breathe easier, there are a few dos and don'ts when it comes to home appraisals that can make the entire process go smoothly and will ensure that you get the best appraisal results possible.

What is a home appraisal?

Put simply, a home appraisal is the process of determining the objective value of your home.

The appraiser, usually hired by the buyer's lender, will do a walk-through of your home paying attention to the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location and neighborhood, and the overall condition to assess the value of your home.

They'll also use comparable listings, or comps. These are homes recently sold in the surrounding neighborhood that are similar to yours in lot size, square footage, and style that give an idea of current market conditions and prices.

An appraisal typically happens after the seller accepts a buyer's offer and after the inspection. This can be nerve-wracking for the seller as a bad appraisal can impact the ultimate sales price or if the deal even goes through at all.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help the appraisal go as well as possible. Here are the dos and don'ts of home appraisals for sellers.

The 6 Dos and Don'ts of Home Appraisal

1. Do a Thorough Cleaning of Your Home

While the appraiser doesn't officially factor in the style or cleanliness of your home, you'll still want to do a deep cleaning of both the interior and exterior. Present your home in the best light as the appraiser is human after all, and a messy or dirty home may subconsciously affect their appraisal.

What you should focus on is fixing peeling paint, water spots, broken siding, or anything that would indicate that your home's in less-than-stellar condition.

A clean home also makes the job easier for the appraiser so they don't have to step over baskets of laundry or trip over the kid's toys. Most appraisers are on a tight schedule appraising four or five homes a day and don't have much patience navigating a disheveled home.

2. Do Prepare All Paperwork in Advance

Give the appraiser all the information about your home, including the age and condition of the roof, HVAC systems, main appliances, along with any details, receipts, or permits for major improvements or remodels you've made on the home.

When the appraiser has all the information, they can more easily and accurately value your home by preparing more precise comps for comparison.

Plus, this gives you the opportunity to mention any new developments in the neighborhood like a new grocery store or shopping center which adds value to the area and your home respectively.

3. Do Work With a Real Estate Agent

Well before the appraisal, it's a good idea to have your real estate agent do a mini-appraisal and gather comps, a list of upgrades to your home, and any other information that would help determine your home's value.

This not only helps you properly prepare for the appraisal, but it will help you and your agent price your home accurately so there will be less contentious price negotiations with the buyer after the appraisal report.

And when the time comes for the appraisal, your agent can be there as your advocate and discuss how they arrived at their pricing decision and any upgrades or improvements that may not be obvious to the appraiser.

4. Don't Have High Expectations on the Added Value of Your Home Improvements

While your home may look beautiful with the new shiny kitchen counters and redone master bath, the appraiser won't be so impressed. Appraisers are more cut and dry and tend to focus only on square footage and number of rooms.

Not to say that home improvements don't add value, but remodels only add a minimal amount. Especially if you have amenities that are unusual, like a home theater or sauna, the appraiser will have difficulty assessing value with comps as other homes don't have these comforts.

Renovations will matter more if you live in a less populous area, though if you're in a trendy metropolitan, your location will matter more over any improvements.

5. Don't Be Surprised for More Negotiations After the Appraisal

Once you receive the appraisal value, be prepared for more negotiations. If the appraisal is higher than the agreed on price, there usually isn't any issue.

However, if the appraisal comes in lower than what the buyer offered, the buyer's lender will typically only offer a loan for the appraisal value. The buyer will have to make up the difference themselves. This can be a problem.

The buyer may not have enough funds to match the original price agreed to and might have to back out of the deal. This is where your agent's expert negotiation skills come into play where hopefully, you can find a middle ground price everyone is happy with so the deal moves through.

6. Don't Crowd the Appraiser

Again, most appraisers usually have a full agenda and only spend around 20 minutes in your home (though some appraisals can last up to an hour if your home is larger). While some believe it's better if you're not there during the appraisal at all it's certainly okay if you hang around.

If you do decide to be home, be friendly and share the information you've gathered on your home and then let the appraiser do their job. Don't feel the need to follow them around, they may interpret it as that you're hiding something.

Work with a Clever Partner Agent to Ensure the Best Results from Your Appraisal

Your real estate agent is integral in getting the best possible results from your appraisal. They'll be able to help you gather accurate comps along with relevant information about your home and any upgrades.

When you work with Clever, you'll connect with an experienced Partner Agent who will know how to price your home competitively so it's more likely to match the appraisal.

Plus, you'll also save more with Clever as our Partner Agents work for a flat fee of $3,000 or 1% if your home sells for more than $350,000. Get in touch with Clever to learn how you can work with a Partner Agent to sell your home fast.


Andrew Schmeerbauch

Andrew Schmeerbauch is the Director of Marketing at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you top agents to save on commission. His focus is educating home buyers and sellers on navigating the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease. Andrew has worked on projects for the United Nations and USC and has a particular passion for investing and finance. Andrew's writing has been featured in Mashvisor, L&T, Ideal REI, and Rentometer.

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