Home appraisal tips to increase the value of your home
Oct 2011 18

When you put your house or condominium up for sale, after you get an offer from a potential buyer that you find acceptable, the next step is that the buyer’s lender will send out a home appraiser to estimate the value of the home. The estimate will be based on how your home compares to other properties in the neighborhood of similar size, style, and quality. It might seem odd to you that the lender has a say in how much your home is worth, after all, the buyer seems to have had no problem making an offer you find acceptable; shouldn’t the bank just make its loan based on that?

Well, no. Easy lending criteria is what got us into this economic mess (well, partially). Sometimes, the banks lent too much money to people buying homes that are now worth less (or, much less) than they were just several years ago. So, the banks are much more careful about how much money they will give a borrower in order to buy a home.

The home appraiser is supposed to be independent, non-biased. I’ve found the majority of appraisers to be so. What I have found to be a problem, however, is that many appraisers here in Boston are used to appraising homes in the suburbs, so aren’t educated or sophisticated enough to estimate the value of a condominium accurately. The appraiser might look at comparable properties that are in completely different neighborhoods than the condo is in, or might compare a newly-constructed condo with one in a traditional townhouse.

Although the appraisal process is pretty much cut-and-dry and straight-forward, there are some simple ways you can make your home look its best and add a bit of value to the home appraiser’s estimate.

The Wall Street Journal has ten tips to increase the value during your home appraisal. There’s a couple of simple tips, such as cleaning up your property, locking up your pets during the appraisal, doing some painting to make it look fresh. They also recommend having a folder of renovations and repairs with costs included. And, most importantly (and your real estate agent should do this for you), you should have a list of comparable properties that have recently sold in your neighborhood, to help the home appraiser understand the current state of the local real estate market.

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