Congratulations! You have a contract on your house, at or near your asking price, and your buyer is in the midst of the mortgage approval process. The deal is not totally closed, however, until a few important milestones are met. One of the most crucial is that your home appraise high enough to meet the lender’s standards. Remember, the appraisal assures that the relationship between the amount of the loan and the property value, or the loan-to-value ratio, is appropriate. Otherwise, buyer and seller will be back at the negotiating table, the buyer wanting you to come down on price, and you wanting the buyer to put in more cash. Here are several tips to help your home appraise well.
- Clean house! Your house was likely clean and tidy during the showing process. But now a tidy house — or not — can exert a subtle influence on an appraiser. A super clean house may not add dollars to your evaluation, nor will a dish left in the sink doom your appraisal. But messes that affect the house, marred walls, stained floors or driveways, can cause an appraiser to believe that the house has been neglected. And don’t forget the outside. The yard, shrubs and flowerbeds should be trimmed and looking great.
- Have comps available. Your real estate agent probably provided a comparative market analysis to set the asking price for your home. The appraiser will also pull recently sold comparables, but it doesn’t hurt to show them what you used to set your price. Appraisers sometimes overlook sales that could help you, so don’t be shy about giving them helpful information.
- Have receipts for improvements. Have you added plantation shutters? New kitchen counters and cabinets? Not only should you tell them, you should document how much you spent so that you get full credit and those values can be added to the home.
- Fix things beforehand. Repairs that cost more than $500 to fix can definitely cause deductions in value, but even little things, if there are enough of them, can add to an impression of neglect. So if you didn’t tackle that honey-do list before listing the house, certainly do it now.
- Point out nearby features. Is there a nearby transit hub that makes commuting easy? A nearby park or activity center that makes family fun convenient? Great schools? Make sure the appraiser knows about nearby attractions that make living at your home appealing.
- Your lovable pet. Your cat or dog may be your best pal, but be sure to remove all pets when the appraiser comes, clean up their toys and messes, and certainly, if you didn’t do so before listing the house, clean carpets and upholstery. Don’t assume that because you don’t smell your pet that others can’t.