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Help raise your home's worth with these simple appraisal tips

A fair opinion of value gives buyers and lenders a clear picture of a home's worth.

A professional home appraisal is required when selling a home — and it's also important for refinancing. The unbiased opinion of your home's value gives potential buyers and lenders a clear picture of a home's worth.

While some influencing factors are outside of your control — such as proximity to good schools and the value of nearby homes — a few simple steps may help increase the value of your home.

How to prepare for a home appraisal

  • Review previous appraisals - Look for issues that lowered your home's value in the past and address those problems.
  • Collect important documents for the appraiser - These could include a land survey that verifies property size, proof of your home's most recent sale price and a list of recent improvements complete with receipts.
  • Prepare for the visit - Clear clutter and contain pets to make the inspection easier for the appraiser.
  • Tidy up - There are some simple things you can do to raise your home's worth. Also, your landscaping choices should enhance the house, not hide it.
  • Invest in curb appeal - Simple home maintenance to improve curb appeal help improve first impressions. Clean the landscape, clear debris from your yard, trim the hedges and clean the gutters to make your home more attractive.
  • Make minor repairs - Small fixes, such as touching up chipped paint or replacing a broken doorknob, can also help add to a home's value.
  • Know the comps - Be sure to check other websites to search for comparable sales in your neighborhood. It’s a good idea to know what similar homes are selling for.
  • Be polite - Share the information you collect with your appraiser. Be friendly and polite, step away, then let them do their job.

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What does an appraiser do?

  • Real estate inspection - The appraiser closely examines the interior and exterior of your home, taking photos and noting its overall condition.
  • Comparables - After the initial visit, the appraiser researches recently sold homes in your neighborhood. This helps the appraiser calculate the home's worth based on current housing market values.
  • Final report - The appraiser prepares a complete property and market analysis, which typically includes:
    • Your home's size and condition
    • A record of any serious structural issues
    • Notes about recent home renovations and the surrounding area
    • Photographs, sketches and maps of your property

Home inspections are also critical in both the buying and selling process. Knowing what is inspected and what's not is always good.