The Importance of Home Appraisals

The home appraisal process is a vital step to getting a mortgage. It ensures that a borrower isn’t paying or borrowing more than the property is worth.

You can do a lot to make your home more appealing to an appraiser, such as mowing the lawn and pulling weeds. But a better home appraisal doesn’t necessarily mean a higher sales price. Click to learn more.

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Location is one of the most critical factors that affect home appraisals. The appraiser will consider the neighborhood, including a high crime rate, a low percentage of owner-occupied homes, and proximity to a city or large town.

The state of the local real estate market and economy also plays a role in home value, as do general national economic trends. For example, a mortgage lender is less likely to approve a loan for an above-market price if it expects interest rates to rise shortly.

Regardless of the market, you can do some things to boost your home’s appraised value. For example, upgrading outdated appliances and systems can increase your home’s value and make it more appealing to potential buyers. Similarly, putting your home on the market during a busy season might be more effective.

A home appraisal is generally required when someone wants to buy a new home or refinance their current mortgage, and it verifies that a property’s sales price is in line with its fair market value. The process is conducted by a certified third party that evaluates the property in person or by looking at photos. Although homeowners have little control over the process, they can help influence the outcome by taking steps to prepare their homes for a home inspection.

Home appraisals play a critical role in mortgage lending. They are a way to ensure that a new home buyer is borrowing what is worth, which would put the lender at risk of losing money in case of default. Home appraisers use several property value methods, including sales comparisons, replacement costs, and rental schedules. However, they are not home inspectors and can only sometimes find leaky roofs or structural problems.

It’s a good idea for homeowners to be available during the appraisal to tell the appraiser about any improvements that have added value to the property. However, it’s important to remember that only certain types of improvement add value. For example, installing central air conditioning will increase the value of a home, but replacing a broken window may not.

Appraisers also look at the overall condition of a home, including its structural integrity, exterior and interior features, and mechanical systems. They look for any necessary repairs or maintenance and any signs of infestation or damage to the structure. They also note the quality of the neighborhood and its amenities, such as schools, transportation, and nearby landmarks.

One of the key factors in a home appraisal is a house’s amenities. If your home has a swimming pool, a deck, or a garage, it’s likely to appraise for more than a similar home without these features.

Energy efficiency and eco-friendly features also add value to a home. An appraiser will take note of these upgrades and how much they save a homeowner in utility costs, which can increase the home’s overall appeal.

A house’s overall design is another factor in an appraisal. If the style needs to be updated or to fit current tastes, it may need to be added to a home’s overall value. On the other hand, a timeless design will generally hold up well over time.

The square footage of a home is important, too. An appraiser will consider how the square footage is distributed within the home, examining things like finished and livable basements versus unfinished attics. The type of heat the home uses will also be taken into account, evaluating whether it is fueled by gas, oil, or electricity.

It’s illegal for a home’s race or neighborhood’s racial makeup to play a role in a home’s appraisal, but discrimination does occur. If you are worried that your home’s value is being unfairly assessed because of your race or ethnicity, contact the CFPB and your mortgage lender to file a complaint.

An appraisal helps ensure that the sale price of a home is in line with its true market value. It also verifies that the mortgage lender is lending less money on a property than it is worth. An appraiser will perform an in-person inspection or use data collected online to assess the home’s value. Then, the homebuyer, seller, or refinancer can decide whether to accept the valuation.

Appraisers look at comparable home sales near the subject property when determining a value. They also examine other amenities, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen size, and energy efficiency.

Home sellers can increase the value of their homes by highlighting any recent renovations. For example, a new roof updated siding, and an encapsulated crawl space could all boost the home’s value. Ensure you have documents for the appraiser, such as a land survey that verifies the property’s size and a list of significant improvements with receipts.

A buyer or seller can also improve their chances for a high appraisal by making minor repairs before the appraiser arrives. For example, a fresh coat of paint and touch-ups to chipped areas can be inexpensive but have a big impact. You can also spruce up the curb appeal by removing clutter, trimming trees and bushes, and addressing any safety issues, such as faulty steps or railings.

The home appraisal process can be stressful for buyers and sellers. Whether you’re selling your home, buying one, or applying for a mortgage, the appraised value of your home will impact how much you can afford to pay and the amount of money your lender will allow you to borrow.

Home appraisers typically use several methods to determine the value of your home. They may look at comparable sales, replacement costs, or rental schedules to determine your property’s value. While you can’t control the methodology used by your home appraiser, there are things you can do to prepare your home for an appraisal and ensure the results meet your expectations.

Before your home appraiser visits, list any renovations you’ve completed and have the paperwork ready. The more documentation you have, the more credit your home will receive for upgrades and additions. However, it’s important to remember that upgrades must have a lasting effect on the property to add value. Replacing an old air conditioner with a new model, for example, will not increase the value of your home.

Remember that an appraiser is not a home inspector and is not looking for specific faults or issues with your home. That said, safety hazards like faulty stairs and loose railings can raise red flags and lead to lower values for your home.

The lender will require an appraisal for buyers who plan on financing a home with a mortgage. This is an objective assessment of the property’s value that can be used as collateral for the loan if the borrower defaults on the mortgage. Home appraisals are also useful for those planning to sell a property or estimate the monetary value of a deceased loved one’s estate.

The home appraisal process involves a thorough physical inspection by the appraiser and a computerized review of recent sale prices for comparable properties in the immediate area, known as comps. An appraiser typically looks for three to four comps as similar as possible in size, age, style, and features. These comps should be in a neighborhood as identical as possible to the subject property and within a reasonable drive time.

A home’s location has the biggest impact on its valuation. The value will be lower if it’s located in a neighborhood with high crime rates, near power lines, a junkyard, or a busy road. The condition of the home is also important. Its value will be negatively impacted if it needs major repairs and is outdated or falling apart. While these factors are out of a seller’s control, there are steps they can take to improve the property’s appeal and boost its appraised value.