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Everything You Need to Know About Home Appraisals

Charles Laird

Member of the National Association of REALTORS, Michigan Association of REALTORS, Member of North Oakland County Board of REALTORS(NOCBOR), NOCBOR Edu...

Member of the National Association of REALTORS, Michigan Association of REALTORS, Member of North Oakland County Board of REALTORS(NOCBOR), NOCBOR Edu...

Jan 16 7 minutes read

Selling your home is a significant milestone, and understanding the appraisal process is crucial to ensure a smooth transaction. This blog post will guide you through the essentials of home appraisals, helping you prepare and maximize your property's value.

What is a Home Appraisal?

A home appraisal is a comprehensive evaluation of your property's value done once a home is under contract as part of the buyer’s due diligence process. Its purpose is to determine the actual market value of a home so that a buyer doesn’t pay more and so that a lender doesn’t lend more for a home than it is worth. Lenders actually require an appraisal before a mortgage can be approved.

Who Conducts the Appraisal?

A licensed or certified appraiser performs the home appraisal. These professionals are usually chosen by the lender as a neutral third party. They undergo rigorous training and adhere to strict guidelines to ensure accurate and unbiased assessments.

  • Location: Factors neighborhood age and desirability, proximity to amenities and transportation, and risk level for hazards like flooding 

  • Property Size and Features: The square footage of your home, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and unique features like a fireplace or pool 

  • Condition of the Property: The overall condition of your home, including maintenance, repairs, renovations, and upgrades

  • Comparable Sales (Comps): Appraisers analyze recent sales of similar properties in your area to assess your home's market value. Comparable sales provide valuable insights into current market trends and buyer preferences.

How to Prepare for a Home Appraisal

To maximize your property's value during the appraisal process, consider the following tips:

  • Complete Repairs: Address any necessary repairs, such as leaky faucets, peeling paint, or damaged flooring, to showcase your home in its best condition.

  • Enhance Curb Appeal: First impressions matter! Ensure your home's exterior is well-maintained by mowing the lawn, trimming shrubs, and cleaning the driveway.

  • Declutter and Clean: A tidy home appears more spacious and inviting. Remove clutter, organize rooms, and deep clean your property before the appraisal.

  • Provide Documentation: Prepare a list of recent home improvements, upgrades, and maintenance records to demonstrate your property's value to the appraiser.

  • Be Present During the Appraisal: Although not mandatory, being present during the appraisal allows you to answer any questions and provide relevant information about your home.

Understanding the Appraisal Report

After conducting a thorough assessment, the appraiser will provide an appraisal report detailing their findings. The report includes:

  • Property Description: A detailed description of your home, including its size, layout, and features.

  • Comparable Sales: Analysis of recent sales of similar properties in your area used to determine your home's market value.

  • Appraisal Value: The final estimated value of your property based on the appraiser's evaluation.

What If the Appraisal Value is Lower Than Expected?

According to Yahoo! Finance, only about 1 in 10 home appraisals come back lower than the contract price. However, if the appraisal value is lower than your listing price or expected value, don't panic. Your real estate agent can help. Consider the following options:

  • Review the Report: Work with your real estate agent to make sure that the report is accurate. Check that any improvements you’ve done to your home were included, and analyze the comparable sales used by the appraiser to ensure they accurately reflect your property's value.

  • Request a Second Opinion: If after thoroughly reviewing the report, you think the appraisal is inaccurate, you can request a second opinion. Talk to your real estate agent about this step if you think it’s appropriate for you.

  • Negotiate with the Buyer: Discuss the appraisal results with the buyer and negotiate a revised purchase price, or find out if they are able and willing to make up the difference between the appraised price and your agreed-upon price in cash.

  • Reevaluate Your Listing Price: If all else fails and your sale falls through, talk to your real estate agent about adjusting your listing price based on the appraisal value and current market conditions to attract new potential buyers.

Appraisal vs. Home Inspection: Understanding the Difference

While both appraisals and home inspections are essential components of the home-selling process, they serve distinct purposes and focus on different aspects of the property.

An appraisal primarily evaluates your home's market value by analyzing various factors. The appraiser provides an unbiased estimate of your property's worth, which is crucial for lenders to determine the appropriate mortgage amount for buyers.

On the other hand, a home inspection is a comprehensive examination of the property's physical condition, systems, and components. A licensed home inspector conducts a detailed assessment to identify any structural defects, safety concerns, or necessary repairs. The inspection report provides buyers with valuable insights into the property's condition, enabling them to make informed decisions and negotiate repairs or adjustments to the purchase agreement.

In summary, while an appraisal determines your home's market value, a home inspection evaluates its physical condition and identifies potential issues. Both processes are essential for facilitating a transparent and successful real estate transaction, protecting both buyers and sellers throughout the home-selling journey.

In conclusion...

Understanding the home appraisal process is essential for every home seller. By preparing your property and addressing any concerns proactively, you can maximize your home's value and facilitate a successful sale. If you have any questions or need assistance with the appraisal process, consult with a reputable real estate agent to guide you through every step of the selling journey.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more valuable insights and tips on navigating the real estate market.

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