What Do Appraisers Look For?

Updated on August 26, 2012
R.P. asks from West Jordan, UT
12 answers

Looking to refi my house. I'm going to need to get an appraisal. I was just wondering what they look for when they walk through the house. Is there anything I can do to make the house appraise for more other than the standard painting? And remember, it has to be on the inxepnsive side.

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answers from Washington DC on

don't sweat it. if you WANT to paint by all means do so, but don't do it for the appraiser. ditto deep cleaning. of course it's always a good idea, but it won't make a difference in the appraised value. appraisers are looking at the 'bones' of the house, ie square footage, good foundation, wetness issues and a good roof. things like upgraded countertops and bathroom fixtures will count in your favor too, but those aren't cheap fixes. but if you don't have walk-in closets, putting an ikea organizer in your reach-in won't affect the value of your house.
the other major factor in the final number is comps. and that too is out of your control.
so make your house look nice. obviously appraisers are human and like anyone else are bound to look a tiny bit more favorably on a neat, clean, pleasant-smelling home. but they're professionals, and really don't take into account the dust-bunnies or fingerprints around the doorknobs. those matter to buyers, not to appraisers.
we recently had our house appraised for a cash-out refi. my dh asked me to take down my orlando bloom poster that's in the basement and move it out to the barn with my johnny depp poster collection. silly man. i KNOW he knows it wouldn't affect the appraiser's opinion, he's just trying to get rid of my boyfriends!
:) khairete

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answers from Boston on

I just had my house appraised. My house is pretty much updated through out but basically the appraisel is based on what other houses in your area with the same sqaure footage sold for. No need to paint that does not matter. Like the other post stated unless you are doing major upgrades it will not matter. If you research other home sales in your area you will have an idea. Good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

Only structural things, not cosmetic; although pride of ownership always helps. Unless you are making major structural changes, there is no need to make cosmetic changes. FYI, they typically take pictures and include them for the underwriters.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Appraisers are not concerned with aesthetics. They are looking at capital value. Bricks and sticks. Square footage, how many bedrooms/bathrooms, half baths, and other structural amenities. Decks, screened in porch/lanai, fence, etc. They don't care about paint. Or landscaping.

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answers from Springfield on

We refinanced last spring after a week of hell. The idea was that I would be on spring break but not the kids, so I could do some of the deep cleaning that hadn't been done for awhile and try to spruce things up a bit. Well 3 of the 4 of us ended up getting the flu and barely making it up off the couch. We were having a birthday party for our son on Saturday, so on Friday we somehow found the strength to clean the kitchen, living room and bathroom and had the party outside. We thought we still had at least a week before the appraiser would come, but then he called on Monday to say he was coming Thursday.

Long story short (too late), we were horrified by the state of our house. We actually asked him to reschedule. The appraiser just chuckled and said he had seen worse and that it would in no way affect the appraisal.

Don't even worry about painting. An appraisal is not the same as showing a realtor and deciding on an asking price. A realtor is going to recommend you paint. An appraiser wants to know how many bathrooms you have and what the square footage is.

Good luck with refi!

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answers from Washington DC on

Yes, most of their appraisal is a computer based program that looks at property values in your area, recent home sales and what they sold for and so on. Only once did an appraiser go inside the home we were selling.

They look at sqare footage and property lines, etc.

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answers from Dallas on

I agree with others, it is basically structure and a lot of measuring.

However, they do take pictures of all rooms and closets...

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answers from St. Louis on

Actually for a refi they only look for structural issues. They could care less if the house is perfectly painted or cleaned. They are looking only at the big things that would be big fixes. Like a foundation crack, a missing door, large holes in the walls.

In other words there is no cheap fix that will give you a higher appraisal value.

An example, we had a hell of a time refinancing, long story, so we had an appraisal done in December. We had hail damage in March so had a new roof put on. The December appraisal expired so we had to have another appraisal done in April. It went up by ten thousand, wana guess how much the new roof cost?

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answers from Tulsa on

I would fix any minor repair issues that are obvious so they won't be listed in the appraisal, but unless you do some major upgrades, like granite counters, adding an extra bathroom, etc, you won't see any noticeable difference in your appraisal. It will just depend on the market right now.

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answers from Lakeland on

There is not too much other than making sure there is nothing that needs fixing. It is similar to buying they want to see it clean and tidy and no unfinished projects. They do look at some cosmetics of the home because they consider a resale value also, so if your home is cluttered and dirty they will consider that.

We have refinanced two of our homes and I made sure I was there so that they could see any upgrades we made to the home (the one I had done in 2006 I had to have him come back to see the inside of the home). Like new appliances, pool heater and propane stove. They will add more value for certain things. They don't care about your furniture, curtains or style of your decor.

I would also keep a copy of your home owner’s policy so that they can see what it is insured for, the insurance companies insure for a rebuild cost not resale and in this market it may help.

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answers from Philadelphia on

When our house was appraised the appraiser took all of 1 minute to go through my 3500 sq ft house plus basement and walk around my yard. I don't think decorating mattered at all. Our appraiser looked at comps in the area and square footage although he did say our house appraised for more than it may have because we upgraded our carpeting to hardwood.

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answers from New York on

I've been a real estate appraiser for over 20 years. :) What ultimately determines the value of your home is the sales price of other, similar homes in your area that have recently sold (in the past 12 months max; preferably within the last 6 months) as 'arms-length' or 'fair market value' sales (not distress sales, foreclosures, etc.). To specifically answer your question, we look for overall condition of your home, any items/improvements that are in need of repairs or major updating, amenities (fireplaces, patios/decks, pools, tennis courts, etc.), how many bedrooms & baths are in the house, specific materials used in the house/quality of construction (hardwood floors, upgraded overall construction quality, etc.).....There are a lot of things we look for! Location of your home is also a key component of market value. If you have an 'external obsolescence' or negative factor off-site (such as railroad tracks, high-tension power lines, busy street/highway) adjacent to or within close proximity to your property, it will negatively affect your property value. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about that. The overall size of your home, in general, increases value, as does the addition of bathrooms & upgrading of kitchens and bathrooms. As far as inexpensive things you can do before the appraisal....just making sure that your property/yard and house are cleaned up/debris-free, clutter-free/neat will help a little. Fix any items that need repairs (i.e. holes in walls, peeling paint, ripped wallpaper, tile caulking, etc.). If you have a basement, make sure that it is dampness-free and that there are no plumbing leaks. There's just so much....Hopefully I haven't left anything out....Message me if you have any more questions. I will be happy to help!

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