Getting the Most from Your Home Appraisal

Getting the Most from Your Home Appraisal

When buying or selling a home, refinancing an existing mortgage, or applying for home equity loans, a new home appraisal is often required. An accurate assessment of the value of your home will give banks the information they need to determine loan amounts for current financing as well as future renovation projects.

Home appraisals compare your home to neighboring properties to determine your home’s current market value. Homeowners can facilitate the process by having certain information readily available for the appraiser:

  • lot size respective to other lots in community.
  • upgrades made to the house since last appraisal, big and small (new roof, insulation, fencing, siding, closets, etc.) Any documentation on this should be supplied to the appraiser.
  • proof of participation in sustainability or energy-saving projects, just as the use of green building materials or the installation of solar panels.

A real estate appraiser is a licensed professional who will do his or her best to determine the value of your home. The appraisal provides banks with information that can tell loan officers if the house is worth the loan amount. In the case of a sale, the appraisal fee is generally included in closing costs. A recent bank-contracted home inspection in Ozone Park was $445.

Keep in mind that the appraiser is not an engineer or an architect and thus is not giving you a “guarantee of condition” but rather an idea of general condition based on a brief walk-through, inside and out. He or she also will compare your home against a few others in the neighborhood, which are known as comparables, or comps. Appraisals will be based on recent prices of comps as well as other factors, such as square footage, modernization features, and overall quality of construction.

It may be worth it to invest some money into the property before having an appraisal done.

Apart from improvements done to the home, there are other ways to get a higher appraisal. The appraiser will consider its overall maintenance, thus it is wise to consider curb appeal and ensure the property is clean, mowed, etc. when the appraiser arrives. Minor repairs and merely tidying up can make a big difference. Removing clutter will make the home appear larger, thereby possibly increasing its valuation.

An appraiser spends merely 30 minutes in a home, so it’s an important, briefly-made impression. Following the appraiser around during an inspection can raise a red flag that something is wrong with the house that you don’t want seen. Turn lights on throughout the house, make sure the heating or cooling system is functioning at full capacity, and keep pets locked away. Move items that can impede access to any part of the house.

On the flip side, homeowners may seek to appeal an appraisal that has assessed the property higher than market value, resulting in a higher property tax obligation. Just as when a higher valuation is sought, documentation of any home damage or required repairs will be important to provide to the appraiser so that a fair(er) assessment can be made.

By Eugénie Bisulco


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