Whether you're looking to refinance, make a purchase, or sell your home, the appraisal is a make-or-break step in the process. The appraiser is charged with determining the most appropriate value for your home. Understanding how the appraisal process works and what your appraiser is looking for can help you navigate the experience.
6 Things a Home Appraiser is Looking For in a House
The neighborhood you live in will inform your home's appraised value. Your appraiser will look at several factors, including the characteristics of your neighborhood. This can include factors such as:
- If the area is suburban, urban, or rural
- Land use, for example, one-unit housing, multifamily, commercial, etc.
- Typical site size
- Architectural styles in the neighborhood
- Street patterns and design
- Crime rates
- Local schools
The Home's General Condition
Another important factor that will influence your appraisal is the condition of your home. Your appraiser may look at the home's exterior and interior to help determine this, evaluating things such as:
- The integrity and condition of the roof, foundation, guttering, and siding.
- The condition of your floors and walls
- General maintenance and upkeep
These, among other factors, may influence the value of your home. Investing in home maintenance can help improve these factors, so take care to address issues such as chipped paint and leaky faucets.
Driveway and Parking
Having a paved driveway is not only appealing to homeowners and shoppers, but it can also contribute to your home's value! This is particularly true if you have an unpaved driveway when your neighbor's driveways are mostly paved.
Your appraiser will look at factors such as the type of driveway you have -- is it gravel, asphalt, concrete, or another material? They'll also evaluate car storage options, such as if a one or two-car garage is available.
Your landscaping contributes to your home’s curb appeal, and as such, it can make an impact on the appraisal.
The Appraisal Institute encourages homeowners thinking about their property's value to consider landscaping options like:
- Design basics such as a simple walkway and planters.
- Trees. Mature trees can add property value and save on energy costs by providing shade.
- Local plants that require little water and maintenance.
Any Improvements and Upgrades
Your appraiser will also want to know about any improvements, upgrades, or additions that have been made to your home. This can include things like:
- Energy-efficient appliances and features
- A patio, deck, or porch
- Kitchen and bathroom upgrades
It may be helpful to compile a list of major home improvements, including the date of installation, cost, and permit confirmation if available.
In addition to the square footage of your home, your appraisal will consider your home's design and functionality.
The appraiser will verify the number of rooms using a standard known as the gross living area, or GLA. Your appraiser may also consider the design of your home. For example, a home with more timeless finishes appraises differently than a home finished with dated design trends that were popular in the 80s.
Other Home Systems
The condition and age of your home's systems such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC can impact your home appraisal. Updates to these systems can make a home more functional and liveable by modern standards.
What Your Appraiser Won't Look At
There are many features your appraiser will consider when evaluating your home. However, your personal property won't add to your home's value. The definition of personal property includes any movable features and decor. This includes things like ceiling fans and shutters, a microwave, a shed, or even a hot tub.
A home appraisal is a crucial step to refinancing or selling your home. Investing in basic home maintenance, such as investing in regular upkeep for your asphalt driveway, can help make the process a bit smoother.