Whether you are looking to purchase a home, sell or refinance your current home, a home appraisal will likely be an essential part of the process. If you are the buyer, seller, or refinancing, it is crucial to understand the appraisal process and how home appraisers determine the value of a home.
What are Home Appraisals?
Home appraisals are unbiased and professional reports of the market value. Appraisals are crucial for mortgage financing. Since the home is collateral for a mortgage, lenders will not provide financing without an appraisal.
If purchasing or selling a home, home appraisals help to confirm that the agreed-upon sale price between you and the lender is fair. In addition, if an owner is refinancing, the home appraisal is completed to ensure that the lender is not giving out more than what the home is worth.
How Do Home Appraisers Determine Home Value?
Home appraisers use a variety of factors to determine a home’s value. However, the two most significant parts of the inspection are the interior and exterior of the home.
What Home Appraisers Look for Inside the Home
The appraisal of the home’s interior involves a thorough inspection of the condition and design of the home. Home appraisers measure and photograph each room, ensuring the number of rooms and bathrooms match the property description. Additionally, they check any crawl space, basement, and attic spaces.
They check the condition of the plumbing and electrical systems, HVAC, and any built-in appliances.
Health and safety make up another element of these checks. For example, appraisers check for pests and termites, and with older homes, home appraisers check for peeling paint to ensure the home complies with lead-based paint regulations.
Further aspects of the inspections center around the overall appearance of the home’s interior. A dated look can negatively impact a home’s value, so appraisers will note amenities such as light fixtures, appliances, and faucets to see if they are up to specification.
Additionally, doors, windows, and flooring are checked for their condition and the materials used.
What Home Appraisers Look for Outside the Home
When it comes to the home’s exterior, the two major things that home appraisers look at are the roof and the foundation. Problems with either of these areas are incredibly disruptive and expensive to fix, so they have a significant bearing on home value.
When evaluating the roof, appraisers look for visible defects or missing shingles. When checking the foundations, they look for cracks, crumbling, or signs of water damage. Additionally, the appraiser will examine the chimney to observe its structural integrity.
Other essential aspects of the home appraisal involve measuring the total land area of the property and the condition of the driveway surface.
Finally, the home appraiser will consider the home’s curb appeal, including exterior features and landscaping.
What Else Do Appraisers Use to Assess a Home’s Value?
Home appraisers will also note the home’s location, such as any factors surrounding the home that could affect the value and market and the proximity to amenities.
Home appraisers also consider luxury features, such as outdoor kitchens or fireplaces, spa bathrooms, and heated flooring.
What Home Appraisers Do Not Look For
Home appraisers take the entire property into account. Moveable features such as light fixtures, home décor, blinds, and curtains do not impact the home value since homeowners can easily remove them.
Exterior features such as in-ground swimming pools or hot tubs do not add value to a home because of the heavy maintenance is involved with pools and hot tubs.
Appraisers won’t lower the value based on light wear and tear or a lived-in look. But, again, the primary purpose of the inspection is to identify any potential issues with the home that would reduce its value.
How to Get a Home Ready for an Appraisal
There are several steps that home sellers can take to ensure their home appraisal goes well. Here is a checklist of things to do to get a home ready for an inspection:
1) List Any Improvements: Home sellers should list any improvements (kitchen, bathroom, roof, etc.) that have been made to the home and give this list to the appraiser. This step ensures the appraiser is aware of these improvements.
2) Give the Appraiser a Comp List: A comp list of suitable local homes can help the appraiser’s report.
3) Accessibility: Appraisers need access to closets, garages, basements, crawl spaces, and other hard-to-access spaces. Therefore, home sellers should make sure they are easily accessible.
4) Make Minor Repairs: Even small repairs can bump up a home’s value. For example, broken faucets, doorknobs, and toilet seats are quick and easy to fix.
5) Clean Inside and Out: A deep cleaning of the home’s interior and exterior can make a difference in the appraiser’s report.
We specialize in mortgages for first-time homebuyers, conventional home mortgages, refinance loans, reverse mortgages, and FHA, VA, and USDA mortgage options. In addition, we’ve worked extensively with cash-out refinancing and help clients to lower their monthly mortgage payments.
Updated March 17, 2022