Once you’ve made the decision to put your property on the market, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is how much to list it for? This is called an appraisal and it is a critical part of the process. Without a property appraisal it is difficult to determine what your home could sell for on the market, and you run the risk of either under-pricing and losing big bucks, or over-pricing and receiving no buyer interest. Confused? Don’t be, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about getting your home appraised.
What is an appraisal?
First and foremost, a home appraisal is an estimate of the market value of your property¾basically, what a buyer could expect to pay for it. Mortgage lenders order an appraisal during the loan application process so they can assess the home’s market value and ensure that the requested loan amount is fair. Factors to consider during an appraisal can include recent sales information for similar or neighbouring properties, the location, and the current condition of the property.
Who will do your appraisal?
Appraisals are generally a free service conducted by real estate professionals. These agents are trained to determine the value of a home fairly and objectively based on the factors mentioned above. While an appraisal is only a guide as to what a home is worth, agents who have several years of on-the-job experience are quite adept at getting the value right. For this reason, it’s often a good idea to ask around and get a second, third, or even fourth opinion before you decide to list with one particular agency.
What are appraisers looking for?
Appraisers are looking at the house, not your furniture, décor, or anything that’s not permanently attached to the property. What they’re most interested in are your home’s physical characteristics: age, square footage, the number of bedrooms and baths, lot size, location, view) as well as the condition of the home, as in, structural integrity and presentation.
How can you boost your home’s appraisal value?
To get the most out of your appraisal, there are lots of relatively inexpensive things you can do to improve your home’s market value. The newer your home appears to be—regardless of its actual age—the better. Upgrade your carpet, tiles, windows and other permanent fixtures if your home is looking a little outdated. Factors that can influence your appraisal include:
- Cracks in the plaster
- Water-stained walls
- Soiled carpets
- Strong or persistent odours
- Leaky faucets
- Broken windows
- Cracked ceilings
- Overgrown landscaping
- Broken garage door
Any improvements you’ve made to the home over the years are worth mentioning, i.e. when you did them and how much they cost. These improvements don’t necessarily represent a dollar for dollar increase in value, but they can certainly go a long way to boosting your overall value. Any positive changes to your area—like new schools, new roads, or shopping complexes—let the appraiser know.
What can you do if you’re not happy with the appraisal?
Once you’ve received the appraisal you are not obliged to list it for the specified amount if you think it is inaccurate, or doesn’t reflect new or important data about the property or comparable homes. Your best bet is to contact another agency (or several) and get them to conduct a separate appraisal. If there is significant disparity between the values, this is probably an indication that an error in judgment has occurred during your appraisal. Make sure you give every appraiser the same, relevant information so you can eliminate yourself as the source of inconsistency.