An appraisal is a crucial step in the home selling process. To prepare, a homeowner should understand what an appraiser is looking for and which aspects may affect their professional opinion when distinguishing the market value of a home.
A common misnomer is that an appraiser’s sole concern is the general cleanliness of the home such as unkempt beds, dirty dishes and stains. While those do play a factor, appraisers are focused on safety and overall value of the home. With this top-of-mind, here are five things that may affect your home’s value during an appraisal:
1. Permits and relevant documents. In short, provide them all to an appraiser. For example, if there are any living space additions or garage conversions, there should be permits on file for the projects. One of an appraiser’s biggest criteria is establishing the square footage and accurate measurements of a house. This can become tricky if additions or conversions, such as a conversion of a garage to a living space, have occurred.
Also pivotal, pool permits and ensuring the pool itself is filled. Pools should be constructed with the necessary permits, or they can diminish value. With permits, a pool can add more value to a property. However, they can also detract value if not in working order. For example, pools need to be filled with water when the appraiser sees it, or it will show up as a condition on an appraisal, meaning it will need to be fixed or corrected in order for the appraiser to sign off.
2. Solar panels. If a property has purchased solar panels, not leased, it is key to have the appropriate ownership paperwork readily available. Any loan documents or certificates of ownership are needed, but if the solar panels are leased, they won’t add any value.
3. Supporting the appraiser. The appraiser is there to do a job … so, always be friendly, but let them work. Never hover or badger them. Owners can assist in the process by notifying the appraiser of comparable sales that aren’t public, such as private sales in a neighborhood. Any similar type of information should also be provided to the appraiser.
4. Common easy-to-miss items. Here in Las Vegas, some details can be overlooked by a homeowner that are important to the type of financing the buyer is obtaining. Specifically, water heaters that don’t have earthquake straps on them, trim or paint on the outside of a house that is peeling and missing flooring can be an item the appraiser is looking for. Doggy doors also are often overlooked. If installed in certain locations in the home, they can be considered a fire hazard that the appraiser may address.
5. Upgrades. If upgrades have been made to a property, provide an appraiser with a list of upgrades commonly referred to as a scope of work document. Having an itemized list of all upgrades with approximate cost can help an appraiser quantify anything that has been done and be taken into consideration in determining value. In certain situations, if a premium was paid for a specific view, an appraiser can even take that into consideration to adjust the lot value.
Overall, when it comes to getting the most out of the appraisal process, preparation is key. It’s also important to understand that appraisers are focused on the condition, function and features of the home to ensure the property is appraised at full market value. To make certain you achieve your desired results, it’s always best to communicate with a real estate professional before an appraisal.
Dan Mumm is a Realtor and lead of The Mumm Group at huntington & ellis, A Real Estate Agency in Las Vegas. For more information on The Mumm Group, visit huntingtonandellis.com.