How to Increase the Value of a Home Appraisal
From making minor repairs to researching sold comparables, check out our tips and tricks for increasing the value of your home.
By Emily Southey | 11 minute read
If you’re selling your home, then you may be interested in scheduling a home appraisal to help you determine an appropriate listing price. Alternatively, if your home is already on the market, then a home appraisal might be ordered by a prospective buyer. Either way, you’ll want to ensure that the appraised value of your home is as high as possible. Keep reading to learn more about how you can increase the value of your home appraisal.
What is a Home Appraisal?
A home appraisal is a professional opinion on the value of your home. Home appraisals are completed by licensed and certified appraisers, who visit your home to conduct an in-person, visual examination. While this might sound similar to what’s involved in a home inspection, a home appraiser is not solely there to assess the condition of the home, as a home inspector is. Rather, they are there to determine the value of the home (though part of this will involve evaluating the condition). However, beyond a detailed examination of the home’s interior and exterior, an appraiser will also measure the square footage of the home, consider its location, and conduct extensive market research (which includes researching comparable home sales in the area) to determine its worth. Another key difference between the two is that home inspections are typically scheduled at the buyer’s discretion, but a home appraisal is often mandated by a mortgage lender. Both home inspection and home appraisal conditions are often included in purchase agreements.
Further, home appraisers are impartial, unbiased third parties. Of course, they are paid for their services but they cannot have any vested interests in the property. A home appraisal can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, during which time the appraiser will walk around your property, taking notes and snapping photographs. Some home appraisers offer flat fees while others charge by the hour.
Once the appraiser has everything they need, they will leave your home and draft an appraisal report. This final report lists the appraised value of your home and the reasons for this valuation. It can take anywhere from a few days to a week to receive the appraisal report, depending on the appraiser’s schedule. Beyond the appraised value, most appraisal reports include photographs of the home, photographs of each comparable property, a sketch of the home’s exterior, a map showing the precise location of the appraised home and the homes used in the comparable sales analysis, the home’s square footage and how it was calculated by the appraiser, and any other relevant information that was used to determine the property’s value, such as market sales data or public tax records.
The information found in a home appraisal report can be used for many reasons. If the appraiser was ordered by the seller before their home was put on the market, it can be used to help them determine an appropriate listing price. Alternatively, if the appraisal was ordered by a mortgage lender, the lender can use this value (along with other key factors relating to the buyer’s finances) to determine how much money they will lend to the buyer and on what terms.
What Do Home Appraisers Look for?
Home appraisers aim to evaluate all aspects of a home that could impact its property value. That is why they not only examine the physical home, but also the location of the property, the condition of the local housing market, and the recent sales prices of comparable homes.
While a seller can’t change the location of their home or control the real estate market, they can make improvements to their property to increase its value. But to understand which improvements will have the biggest impacts, it’s crucial to know what home appraisers look for. The following is a list of elements that a home appraiser is likely to evaluate:
- The exterior and interior condition of your home;
- The number of rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and windows in your home;
- The functionality of your home’s floor plan (including the interior room design and layout);
- The improvements, renovations, or repairs made to the home (especially to high-value rooms like kitchens and bathrooms);
- The condition and age of the home’s plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems;
- The home’s exterior amenities, if applicable (for example, swimming pools, hot tubs, patios, detached garages);
- The location of the home (both in terms of the neighbourhood, as well as the precise location of the lot); and
- The square footage of the home and the size of the lot.
“A home appraisal is a professional opinion on the value of your home. Home appraisals are completed by licensed and certified appraisers, who visit your home to conduct an in-person, visual examination.”
How to Prepare for a Home Appraisal
Preparing for a home appraisal is crucial to its success. Luckily, there are several ways that sellers can get ready for an appraisal to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
Draft a list of all renovations or upgrades made to the home
Before the appraiser arrives, make a list of all renovations or upgrades that have been made to the home over the years. Try to be as specific as possible, especially when it comes to the dates of the completed renovations. Ultimately, even though home appraisers are certified professionals, certain improvements may not be obvious or visible. So if you can provide them with a list of all improvements beforehand, it can help solidify the value of those improvements (which could also increase the appraised value of your home).
Conduct independent market research
As mentioned, home appraisers will research the local housing market and analyze comparable home sales in your neighbourhood when valuing your home. However, nothing is stopping you from doing your own research, which could ultimately help increase the value of your home. Specifically, we recommend researching the housing market and comparable home sales to calculate the estimated market value of your home. Be sure to keep track of all documents and information you used to make your final calculations. When the appraiser arrives at your property, provide them with this information. While they are under no obligation to use or even read your research, it could help them determine the value of your home.
Arrange to be home during the appraisal
Everyone has a busy schedule, but if there’s something to clear your schedule for, it’s a home appraisal. As a seller, being home during the appraisal will make the entire process smoother. For example, you can answer any questions the appraiser has about the condition of the property or recent improvements you’ve made. You can also make sure they have access to everywhere they need. Although we advise sellers to be present for home appraisals, do not distract the appraiser with lots of questions or comments and avoid following them around the property. Be respectful and give them space to do their job.
Remove all possible distractions and barriers
The final way we recommend preparing for a home appraisal is to remove all possible distractions and barriers. In terms of distractions, we’re talking about rambunctious pets or even young children. If your home has either and you think they could get in the appraiser’s way, perhaps hire a pet sitter or babysitter during the appraisal. Meanwhile, in terms of barriers, we mean physical barriers blocking access to parts of the home the appraiser will need to evaluate (for example, heavy furniture or overgrown trees or bushes).
10 Tips to Increase Home Value for Appraisal
Now that you know what a home appraiser looks for, it’s time to reveal our top 10 tips for increasing the value of your home.
1. Tidy up the front yard
Let’s face it, curb appeal matters. Whether it’s a home appraiser or a prospective homebuyer pulling into your drive, the exterior of your home is the first impression, so make it a good one. Curb appeal does play a role in an appraiser’s valuation, so do what you can to spruce it up. Rake up dead leaves, mow the lawn, and trim back overgrown bushes. In essence, you should do whatever you can to make your home look as attractive as possible.
2. Apply a fresh coat of paint on the home’s exterior
Our next tip for increasing the value of your home is to slap a fresh coat of paint on the home’s exterior. An appraiser will be quick to note any chipped or peeling paint in your home, including on the home’s exterior. Plus, a fresh coat of paint can instantly make a home look much younger and more modern. If you hire a professional to paint your home’s exterior, they may also make minor repairs, like caulking any gaps or cracks along the way.
3. Install a new garage door
Our third tip is to install a new garage door. If your home has a garage, an appraiser will not only check the capacity of the garage (how many vehicles it holds) but also the condition of the garage. If your garage door is old, showing signs of wear and tear, or altogether deficient, it could be worth installing a new one.
4. Spruce up the front door and porch
As mentioned, curb appeal can have a major impact on the value of your home. For this reason, we recommend making your front door and porch look as nice as possible. This means weeding the walkway (or removing snow and ice from the walkway if the appraisal is taking place during the winter), adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door, washing the windows, and adding some fresh plants or flowers to the porch.
5. Update the kitchen and bathrooms
Kitchens and bathrooms hold the most value in a home, so if you’re going to spend money on upgrades, these are the rooms to invest in.
6. Take care of minor repairs
Handling minor repairs can go a long way when it comes to a home appraisal. Don’t let a loose railing, running toilet, or leaky faucet lower the value of your home. Fix small issues before the appraisal takes place.
We put the real back in real estate.
Join Wahi today and find out how easy it is to get real estate in the GTA.
7. Make sure that everything works
Check that all appliances and systems in your home are functioning before the inspector arrives. This means running all HVAC units, testing the kitchen and laundry appliances, turning on the light switches, flushing the toilets, and running all faucets.
8. Deep clean the home
This tip is a basic one, but it’s important. Do a deep clean of your home before the appraisal arrives. This means cleaning your carpets, vacuuming the floors, and dusting all furniture. A dirty home can leave an overall impression of neglect, which can lead an appraiser to lower their valuation.
9. Talk up your home during the appraisal
Though you never want to distract the appraiser, there is no harm in talking up your home during the appraisal. After all, no one knows the property better than you. Don’t be shy about pointing out recent improvements or unique features.
10. Get an early appraisal
To avoid a bad appraisal forcing you to accept a lower offer from a buyer, consider getting a home appraisal before you put your home on the market. An appraiser can note areas of concern, giving you time to fix things before your home hits the market. Then, if and when a buyer requests an appraisal, the value of your home is likely to be higher than it was before.
Frequently Asked Questions
What criteria do home appraisers use?
Home appraisers consider several factors to determine the value of a home. For example, their criteria may include comparable home sales in the neighbourhood, current real estate trends, the location and size of the home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the home, the functionality of the floor plan, and the home’s features or amenities.
What increases a house appraisal's worth the most?
The factor that boosts a house appraisal’s worth the most is the location. If the home is located in a desirable neighbourhood with a low crime rate and close proximity to schools, grocery stores, and public transportation, the appraised value of your home is likely to be higher. Beyond location, which sellers can’t do much about, freshening up your curb appeal, renovating outdated kitchens or bathrooms, finishing an unfinished basement, and decluttering your home can also increase the value of your property.
What damages a property appraisal the most?
The factors that damage a property appraisal the most include the location of the home (for example, if it’s in a less desirable neighbourhood or near a highway or train tracks), a slow or cool real estate market, a poor layout, if it has major structural or foundation issues, if it is generally in poor condition and shows signs of wear and tear if it’s old, and if the HVAC system is old or broken.
How should I get ready for an appraisal?
There are many steps sellers can take to prepare their homes for an appraisal, including conducting minor repairs and tidying up the front yard, removing all barriers or obstacles in the home, making a list of completed improvements, and researching the local real estate market and comparable home sales.