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How to prepare home for highest appraisal?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well, we applied to refinance and it was approved, under condition of a favorable appraisal. In this market, is there anything that we should do (in the next couple of days) to prepare our home for the appraisal to get the highest appraisal possible? The house across the street with the same floor plan and similar lot--the closest and best comp--sold for $150,000 in August. We just need it to come in around $140,000, but want to do anything we can to better our chances of that with declining home values across the board. Any suggestions? We have 3 kids 3 and under, so I know stowing the toys in the closet will be necessary for an hour or so, but aside from that?
post #2 of 13
Although appraisers are supposed to look at structure only, I did have an appraiser tell me once that one of the best things you can do is to wash all the windows inside and out so as to maximize the amount of natural light in the house. He said that he'd do that before investing a huge amount of time in removing clutter. Also, clean windows make it look like you've invested in the structure of the house.
post #3 of 13
clean! vacuum, polish your linoleum or wood floors, get any carpet stains out, orgazine furniture in an attractive manner, get rid of ANY clutter, if you have cats, shurb out their boxes and do some air freshening, put away any loose clothing (coats, hats, gloves, etc), ALL kids toys put away for the appraiser, make sure the outdoors is in order as well. If you have white sinks, bleech them along with the tubs, showers, and toilets, and clean commonly touched things you may not notice yourself like, doors, applinces, and kitchen cabinets.

Write or type out a list of imporvements you've made since you bought the home or snce it was last appraised. Included: new paint, new appliances, any landscaping or planting of shrubs, trees, garden, new fixtures, new windows or doors, new flooring, any permenate shelving or storage you may have added, nwe or fixed roof or siding, newly planted lawn, porches or decks, improved parking from gargae or added driveway space, any paving or added permenate walkways outside, AC, upgraded heating or water heater, removal of dated things like wallpaper or paneling, fencing, etc.
post #4 of 13
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post #5 of 13
We did this a few years back... We painted all of the scuff marks on the walls, made sure that everything was really clean. Minimized clutter. Opened all of the window blinds and yes, cleaned windows. We turned all of the lights on...basically we staged the house as if we had it on the market and were having an open house. We also made sure to walk around with the appraiser so that we could point out all of the improvements we had made since the purchase of our house. Good luck!
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
So it's okay to talk to the appraiser about improvements and such? Our LO mentioned we could tell him/her what we expect it should come in around, since it has several improvements that the comp across the street does not have. I wasn't sure if this was really something that is done or not?
The only other appraisal we've had done was to remove PMI and we weren't concerned at that point that it wouldn't come in where we expected--property values were steadily rising!
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama2CarolineLydia View Post
So it's okay to talk to the appraiser about improvements and such? Our LO mentioned we could tell him/her what we expect it should come in around, since it has several improvements that the comp across the street does not have. I wasn't sure if this was really something that is done or not?
The only other appraisal we've had done was to remove PMI and we weren't concerned at that point that it wouldn't come in where we expected--property values were steadily rising!
We did. Our house has the unfortunate unique distinction of having the smallest bathrooms on the block (standing room only, LOL!), but we remodeled our bathrooms, so even though they're small, they're very nicely done. We pointed that out (leaving out the part about them being the smallest) and we pointed out what couldn't be seen: that we installed drainage pipes in the backyard to deal with a grading issue, that our roof is less than 10 years old, and that we upgraded the plumbing throughout. The appraiser actually thanked me for mentioning the plumbing because he would not have known otherwise.
post #8 of 13
Yes I would mention ANY improvements you have done. We have had 3 appraisals done and the lady who does ours was kinda a grump. The first one we got caught between her and our mortgage broker-they got into a fight and she would not give our house a favorable rating(it's an old house that did/does need improvements). Finally it came back that we had to do a few minor things to have our loan. Then she appraised the house for much more after she came back and saw we had done the things she wanted. She did comment on our paint choices and how she didn't like them, I have no idea if that went into her judgment of our house.

When she came back to do our appraisal for our refi we pointed out all the improvements that we had done. We did a full cosmetic overhaul on our kitchen, paint, appliances-the whole deal-that raised our home value over 20,000(we spent about 1,500). So yes-tell them about any and all improvements. We are thinking about doing a refi again when our bathroom is completed, we also have a new pellet stove, our DD's room is all redone, and our office will be completed this summer. Our house value is going up even with declining values because of the improvements that we have made and also because in our area prices have not declined that much.

I also baked a cake because I saw that on home improvement show once, people like houses that smelled like baking cookies or cake.
post #9 of 13
I agree- definitely tell the appraiser about any improvements you've made, and mention anything and everything good about the house that isn't easily seen (like the plumbing the pp mentioned) sometimes those things that you can't see are some of the more valuable traits in a house. Also, make sure you do any small repairs around the house. A house is always worth more if it doesn't need any repairs, and a bunch of little things can add up quickly, so if you have any leaking faucets, holes in walls or window screens, missing/damaged/yucky grout or chippped tiles now is the time to take care of all that little stuff. If you can you might consider having a friend or family member walk through your house with you (fresh eyes see more, you know?) to see if there's anything you're missing.
post #10 of 13
Definitely TYPE UP and hand the appraiser a list of all of the improvements done to the property since the last time it was appraised.
post #11 of 13
I'm not sure if this would apply to an appraisal for refi purposes...When we bought our current house the appraisal for the house we were selling came in $30,000 under their offer. They offered us our asking price. The buyers paid for the appraisal but we refused the results and asked them to send someone else. I'm not sure if the buyers had to pay for the second appraisal. The second one appraised for our asking price. For the house we bought, the appraisal came in at $10,000 under our offer and we offered their asking price. They didn't question the appraisal so it saved us $10,000 because we had to drop our offer to match the appraisal. Worst case scenario we could have lost $30,000 on selling and $10,000 on buying. So, I'm wondering for refi purposes if you can refuse the result if it's off from what you expect. The market was very different back then but it's just maybe something to keep in mind.
post #12 of 13
We had ours done for a refi a while ago. Honestly, I don't think there's much I could have done to change the appraisal without spending a great deal of money. The appraiser had a pretty strict formula and really looked at the actual physical features of the house.

He didn't factor in superficial cosmetic things much at all. We did tell him about the things we'd upgraded, and he had good comps. He had a list of things that our house doesn't have that the comps did, like central air and a fireplace that washing the windows wasn't going to hide.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
I totally understand that there are just some things we can't change. I'm just hoping that with a few cosmetic things, we can come in in the range we need, even with declining values, instead of $5000 or less under and be frustrated. Thanks for the tips!
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