So, you’ve got an offer on your house from a qualified buyer and you’re ready to call the movers. Before you pick up the phone, remember that a few hurdles still have to be overcome before settlement day—in particular, the home appraisal.
An appraisal, paid for by the buyer, is required by the buyer’s lender to ensure that the property’s value is equal to or higher than the loan amount. If your buyer has offered $250,000 on your home and intends to borrow $225,000, your home must be worth at least that much or more.
Your buyer pays for the appraisal, which is scheduled by the lender, but that doesn’t mean the appraisal process is entirely out of your hands. There are steps to take before and during the appraisal appointment that can maximize your home’s value, increasing the likelihood your transaction will include a smooth settlement day.
If you’re reading this before you’ve placed your home on the market, consider paying for a pre-listing appraisal. This appraisal can give you a firmer idea of the market value of your home so that you can accurately price it. In addition, you can give a copy of this appraisal to your buyer’s appraiser as a guideline.
If your home is already on the market and has an offer on it, be sure to gather the information your Realtor supplied you about comparable homes that recently sold. If you know about a home that sold without a listing agent, try to get information about that sale as well, to provide to your appraiser. Any information you have about the community or your home in relation to others in the neighborhood, such as the fact that your home has been built on the largest lot, should be given in writing to the appraiser.
Provide the appraiser with a complete list of all upgrades and updates to your home, such as new appliances, a new roof and even smaller items such as extra insulation or a resealed tub.
Appraisal Day Tips
While you don’t need to clean your home as you would if you’re showing it to prospective buyers, you should clean anything permanent in the home such as carpets and walls. A clean home gives the impression that you’ve maintained it.
Take care of the exterior clean-up, too, by pulling weeds, mowing your lawn, trimming your shrubs and putting away any toys or tools that could trip up your appraiser.
The appraiser will need access to your basement and attic and possibly a crawl space, if there is one. Moving items to make the appraiser’s job easier can leave a more positive impression of your home.
Make the appraiser comfortable by turning on the heat or the air conditioning, which also proves that your system works.
Keep your children and pets out of the appraiser’s way. You don’t have to be there to meet the appraiser, but if you are home, let the appraiser do the job without your interference. More importantly, make sure your pets are locked up or taken away during the appraisal, and keep your children from creating a distraction, too.
As a seller, you can’t necessarily change an appraiser’s mind about the value of your home, which is based on extensive research of comparable homes and the condition of your property. However, providing background information on your home and having a visibly well-maintained property will improve the chances of a better appraisal.
By: Michelle Lerner
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