Preparing Your Home For An Appraisal
An appraisal of your home is done to determine the market value of your property, either for a mortgage lender, or for other reasons (tax appeals, probate, etc.). The process includes the appraiser's research of the local market through various data sites (MLS, tax records or other sources), inspection of the home, and completing a report with the developed opinion of value. Today we will focus on the home inspection and what you should prepare for. Let me start my stating that not all appraisers will perform the same scope of inspection or in the same sequence as I will outline, and the level of inspection can be different based on the type of valuation, the lender, and other requirements. An inspection can take from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the type and size of property, and the type of appraisal being completed. Generally, most home inspections for appraisals will take about an hour. This is generally what you should expect and prepare for: 1. A cursury inspection of the exterior will include measurements of the improvements (house, garages, carports, patios, porch, barns or any other structures on the site). Any observable deferred maintenance or property damage (damaged exterior wood siding, cracks in brick veneer, etc.) will be noted. 2. The interior cursory inspection is intended to view the observable areas of the home, and is completed in a non-invasive manner. That means that the appraiser will not be moving furniture or any personal items. If a home has a lot of clutter the observable areas will be more limited, and the appraiser may or may not be able to adequately determine condition, and therefore may affect the results of the opinion of value.
3. Some appraisals will require access to the attic space, crawl space if your home is on a raised foundation, or basement (such as for FHA appraisals). It's important that the appraiser have access to these areas and that they are not blocked from inspection.
4. Homes will require smoke detectors, and if you have gas to the property for appliances, furnace and/or fireplace, you will need CO2 carbon monoxide detectors. These can also be found as a combo smoke and CO2 detectors, and can easily be installed. Some states also require hot water heaters to be strapped in for earthquake reasons. Lastly, check with your local city for any special building codes which can help you better prepare for your appraisal.
5. Room additions, garage conversions to living space, or additional accessory living units (guest houses) are treated differently from one city to another, as well as by appraiser or purpose of appraisal. A good rule of thumb is that if you have permits for these, you will be fine. If you don't, some cities or counties will allow these items, but you can also check with the appraiser.
It is recommended that the home be shown as clutter free as possible, much in the way the home would be presented when listed for sale. Clean counter tops and floors will help show the home better. Even picking up clothes from floor or furniture, and making the beds will go a long way to presenting the home better. Exterior landscaping should be trimmed, and debris stored away. Any discarded vehicle parts may be considered hazardous waste and could impact the outcome of an appraisal. Allow access to all areas of the home's interior and exterior, as well as moving any unnecessary personal items to a garage or storage will help the appraiser's visual inspeciton of the overall condition of the home. You can also make minor repairs, like caulking, patching holes in the wall, making sure appliances are functional, or even painting. Homeowners may also create a list of upgrades or remodels of the home to the appraiser, such as AC and furnace upgrades, remodels to kitchen and baths, new roofs, foundation repairs, or other upgrades to the home. This can be helpful information, particularly in areas that may not be readily visible. Lastly, it is not advisable to discuss values or comps or other sales or value related information since the appraiser is not allowed to discuss these.