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How to Prepare for an Appraisal and Showcase Your Home at Its Best

By Laura James, Fairmont Agency

Determining a price for your home can be stressful, especially if you don't know how to prepare for an appraisal. If the home's appraised value is too far from the listing price, it can make or break the deal. Plus, even though appraisers are subject to strict regulations, much of their job is subjective, which means it's crucial for your home to make a good impression on them. Luckily, there's a lot you can do to help present your home at its best.


The first step toward getting ready for an appraisal can be the hardest for sellers. You love your house, you think its pretty close to perfect, but you need to go through the home with a critical eye and make yourself aware of any areas in need of maintenance. Doing so allows you to think like an appraiser and identify any factors that might negatively affect your home's value.

As you go through the home make sure everything works correctly; make sure all lights are working, all doors open and close properly, and make sure there are no leaks anywhere. You should also check for things like leaky sinks, running toilets, and nail pops. Most importantly, make sure all safety equipment is installed and working properly, these smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and home security alarms. As you go around the home, put everything down on one list so that you can easily refer to it later. The goal is to show that the property has been well-maintained.


One of the most critical to-do's is to complete any outstanding home maintenance tasks. (check out our blog on home maintenance here)

Go ahead and do small projects on your own. However, for bigger jobs like plumbing and electrical work, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE hire a certified professional. While it might cost a bit more upfront, hiring a professional to do the work frees you of any liability and allows you to show an invoice as proof, if need be.

And remember, these should be smaller home maintenance tasks, not big renovations. While giving a room a fresh coat of paint or adding some curb appeal is probably fine, it's not the best idea to finish your basement right before an appraisal. Unfortunately, there aren't any guarantees on how much value projects like these will add to your home, so sometimes they aren't worth the money you'd put in.


Your home's curb appeal is the first thing the appraiser sees. Moreover, upgrading your landscaping from average to excellent can increase your home’s value as much as 10-12 percent. We don't often encourage our clients to undertake a complete overhaul, we often suggest making some small landscaping investments to boost your curb appeal and add to your home’s value. Planting some small trees, adding landscape lighting, replacing areas of dead grass with low maintenance vegetation, and even just giving your front door a fresh coat of paint can all add value without costing a ton of money.


We can help you put together a highlight sheet, a simple one-sheet, outlining all the upgrades that have been done to the home. Highlight sheets end up being very valuable tools, because they allow the appraiser to see all the added value in your home with just one glance. Include approximate dates, permits, and warranties for these projects, as well.

The highlight sheet shouldn't just include aesthetic improvements like upgraded kitchens and bathrooms. Functional and structural improvements like a new roof or HVAC system should also make the list.

(Note: do not include any improvements done without proper permitting. Appraisers often work closely with municipal officials to verify recorded information, mentioning these upgrades might bring them to light and could cause more trouble than they're worth.)


Have the house clean and clutter-free!! Your best bet is to tackle the task in two parts: a deep clean of the home a few days before the appraisal and then a final sprucing up on the big day. On the day of the appraisal make sure that everything is in its place. Make the bed, pick up any errant toys from kids and pets, and do the dishes. While these factors technically aren't included in the appraisal, they might subconsciously influence the appraiser's opinion of your home, which can affect its determined value.


A few healthy, well-placed plants can go a long way toward making any space look fresh, modern, and clean. While you shouldn’t go out and break the bank at the nursery just for a home appraisal, you should think about ways to use greens and flowers to brighten up your rooms. If you already have plants, space them out so that they’re enhancing, but not cluttering, your home, and make sure to take off any dead leaves since those can be eyesores. If you don’t have any plants, pick up some fresh flowers at the store and arrange them in a couple sunny spots. Plants will help your home look nicer and more put together, further they also give off the appearance of a well maintained space.


The appraised value of your home is largely determined by how it compares with similar properties that have sold in your area within the past six months. As your agents we will provide this information to your appraiser to justify the sale price. We will also work with you to help prepare you to get your home in the best shape possible!!

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