Helping Your Home Appraise For Top Dollar

Most people, at some point in their life will probably get a home appraisal. Appraisals are necessary for the following reasons:

• Buying a home
• Selling a home (either a marketing appraisal or appraisal after contract is signed)
• Refinancing a home (either to get a lower rate or to get a home equity loan)
• Dropping PMI insurance
• Relocation appraisals (if you are being transferred in your job and your company will be buying your home)

By planning ahead it is possible to present your home in the best possible light in order to get the highest value possible.

While a little clutter here and there will not affect the appraised value it does not hurt to have the home in its best possible condition and presented nicely. By spending a little time on cosmetic details and minor repairs a good impression can be made.

Appraisers are human and they respond to a clean and orderly home the same as buyers do.

During the inspection we look at materials of construction and condition of the improvements and develop an effective age estimate of the home.

Items observed include the following:


• Exterior condition of the home (including deferred maintenance-loose gutters, missing shingles, bad paint, broken windows)
• Landscaping (healthy plants and fresh mulched flower beds as opposed to dead plants and over grown grass)


• Type of floor covering and condition (stains, rips, etc.)

*Wall surfaces (wallpaper, paint, panel, etc.)
• Kitchen appliances (are they working)
• HVAC (is it working)• Small things that, while not affecting value significantly, can give a bad impression of the home, such as missing electrical covers, doorknobs, etc.

Features or amenities of the home are noted as well as their condition and can include the following:

• Fireplaces
• Patios
• Decks
• Porches
• Fences
• Pools (once saw a pool that had been turned into a koi pond)
• Security system, intercom etc.

Because a minimum of three sales are used in an appraisal a range of value is developed. This is where the good condition and upkeep of the home can pay off. Within the range of value the appraiser can reconcile a final value estimate based on the subject’s condition and appeal as well as the marketability of the area. If the home is in good condition and shows well, it is possible that the upper end of the range could be justified. On the other hand, if the home has not been well kept, has necessary repairs, and does not show well, the lower end of the range may be chosen.

By spending a little money, and putting in some sweat equity, you can increase the chances your home will appraise for top dollar. Here is a list of some things you could do:


• Mow grass and edge
• Add mulch to flower beds
• Buy some inexpensive plants and plant in beds for color
• If necessary touch up or paint home
• Repair any deferred maintenance such as broken windows, loose gutters, or missing shingles.
• Repair damaged decking if necessary
• Repair fencing if damaged


• Clean your floor, whether it be carpet, hardwoods, or tile
• Touch up paint or clean walls if dirty or if you have holes repair them
• If you have peeling wallpaper, either repair it or take it down and paint
*Make sure all appliances are in working order
• Make sure the HVAC is in good working condition
• Make sure small things such as loose door knobs or missing electrical cover plates are repaired or replaced
• Clean the home so there is no clutter

Because appraising is not an exact science, and a range of value is given from the sales used, a home which is clean and well taken care of can make a positive impression on the appraiser so that they emphasize the upper end of the range provided.


  1. […] I had an opportunity recently to speak with Jim Waddell of AB Home Inspections.  Jim is a home inspector in the Birmingham, AL area.  He provides home inspections for various reasons but the one I talked to him about was the services provided to home buyers.  Jim does a lot of work with new home buyers because he thinks it is important for them to know what they are buying, especially since it is their first home.  From an appraisal standpoint it is important for a home to be in the best possible condition because this will help it appraise for top dollar.  I wrote about a similar topic last year and you can read about it here. […]

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