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How to Prepare for an Appraisal

For homeowners, a real estate appraisal is the linchpin to buying or selling their home. It allows the property transactions to occur among the buyer, seller, real estate agent and mortgage lender.

Before an Appraiser arrives, there are a few things you should know. By law, a property appraiser must be state licensed to perform appraisals prepared for federally related transactions. Also by law, you are entitled to receive a copy of the completed appraisal report from your lender.

To facilitate the appraisal process, it's beneficial to have these documents ready for the appraiser:

  • A survey of the house and land or plot plan (if readily available)
  • Information on the latest purchase of the property in the last three years
  • Written property agreements, such as a maintenance agreement for a shared driveway
  • List of personal property to be sold with the home
  • Title policy that describes any encroachments or easements
  • Most recent real estate tax bill and/or legal description of the property
  • Home inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and wells
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and upgrades, the approximate date of their installation and their approximate cost (for example, the addition of central air conditioning or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available)
  • A copy of the current listing agreement and broker's data sheet and Purchase Agreement if a sale is "pending".
  • Information on "Homeowners Associations" or condominium covenants and fees.
  • A list of "Proposed" improvements or additions including drawings and builders specifications if the property is to be appraised "Subject to Completion".

Once our appraiser has arrived, you do not need to accompany him or her along on the entire site inspection, but you should be available to answer questions about your property and be willing to point out any home improvements.

Here are some other suggestions:

  • Accessibility: Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible, especially all exterior walls, porches, garage, attic and crawl space
  • Housekeeping: Appraisers see hundreds of homes a year and will usually look past most clutter, but remember that they're human beings too! A good impression could translate into a higher home value.
  • Maintenance: Repair structural or appearance problems such as: defective roofs and resulting damage, missing or broken doors, windows or screens, rotten wood, inoperable heat/AC systems or pools, large holes in walls or ceilings, peeling or poorly painted surfaces, poorly maintained landscaping, worn out floor coverings. The property will be appraised AS IS effective the day the appraiser inspects it. What would a buyer likely pay for your house if they saw it in the exact same condition as the appraiser did on the day of his inspection? What things would you do to your house in order to get the best sale price from your best prospect? Those are probably the same things that will result in a higher appraised value.
  • FHA/VA Inspection Items: If your borrower is applying for an FHA/VA loan, be sure to ask your appraiser if there are specific things that should be done before he or she comes out. FHA/VA requires an much more extensive inspection by the appraiser and all defaults found must be repaired prior to the loan closing.