RedFin has 9 ways to increase your home appraisal that we'll look at today.
1) Begin with your home’s curb appeal - MYTH
In over five years I have never made "curb appeal adjustment" nor have I in 300 hours of continuing education and thousands of hours in training ever heard of any appraiser making such an adjustment. While it may give a "good impression" its not a major factor.
2) Declutter your home - MYTH
The appraiser is trained to look past personal property at the fixtures only. While there is a level of "clutter" that become a health and safety concern that may disqualify the home from financing (think of the show "Hoarders"),decluttering may give a better impression, but its not evaluated.
3) Clean your home thoroughly - Mixture
The appraiser evaluates your home as though it was "broom clean." If your carpets are stained, and the paint is marked everywhere, and there are other more "atypical" levels of "dirt," then yes, clean thoroughly. However, you don't need to be a "clean freak" about it, we understand that you live in the house.
4) Make minor repairs - the $500 rule - MYTH
From the article - "many appraisers follow the $500 rule, where they value property based on $500 increments." Umm, what is this? I have literally never heard of this "rule." While appraisers do often round, and possibly to $500, this idea has no merit. Some of the repairs that are noted in the article (securing handrails, addressing leaks) are necessary for most financing. However, light bulbs and replacing batteries in smoke alarms won't add $500 to your appraisal...
5) Look at your garage, roof, foundation, and home systems - True!
Five down and we get some solid advice. Everything listed here is important and I'll quote it below:
Signs of water damage, a cracked or leaning chimney, or loose shingles are indications of underlying damage and will be considered during the appraisal process. Check the foundation for signs of water intrusions or cracks in the foundation, ceiling, or walls. These are all signs of foundation damage that will need to be addressed. You’ll also want to ensure your roof has at least three years of economic life remaining since the quality of the roof will play a key role in determining your home’s value. Make sure the garage door opener and any garage outlets are working, and that all utilities, water, electricity, and HVAC systems are functioning properly.
6) Make small upgrades - True!
There are some small upgrades that you can make that will increase the perception of your home, however, in a buyers market nearly all of these go away. In a seller's market there can be a real market difference between a kitchen with new paint and hardware on the cabinets. However, when that market turns south, those improvements are many times seen with less appeal. Many flippers make this their strategy in a sellers market, buy an average condition home, make minimal upgrades to small items and flip quick. There is a reason flippers don't do as much work in a market down turn.
7) Have a list of your home improvements ready - TRUE!!
This is so helpful and can help the appraiser support a higher condition rating for your home if it is sitting on the line between two ratings.
8) Create a welcoming environment - Mixture
I hate pillows, like, I hate them. The idea that the owner should add pillows so that I will feel "welcomed," is both comical and insulting to my intelligence. You should definitely have the lights on, and blinds open to present the home in its best "light," but the rest of this is personal property and has nothing to do with a home appraisal.
9) Look at real estate comps in your area - True
While real estate codes make it clear that the only person who can select a "comparable" is the appraiser, you should be informed about your home and the market you live in. Make sure to bracket all of the major amenities of your home (Square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, garage, basements, acreage, condition, quality, etc) and this will give you a good idea of a possible range your home falls in. I've occasionally been given a packet of "comps" where every home was superior in every way to the subject property - all this tells the appraiser is what the home would be worth if it was much better than what it is. This will quickly tell your appraiser what your home isn't worth...