Real estate Q&A: “How to get a high house appraisal?”
With home prices continually slipping, anxious homeowners are increasingly searching for ways to come up with better values when getting their homes appraised. But one of the major dilemmas facing homeowners is the fact that real estate appraising is largely based on the properties around you, and not so much your own property.
Replacing Light Bulbs?
In other words, performing simple tasks like fixing light bulbs, repainting walls, planting flowers, and tightening leaky faucets will have little effect on how your home is appraised.
Sure, it’ll boost curb appeal and make your home more attractive to buyers (assuming you’re trying to sell), but it probably won’t do much to boost your appraised value.
The same goes for home staging. You can hang a mural, burn a candle, and bring in temporary furniture, but it won’t change the appraised value.
Real estate appraisers rely largely on “comparable sales,” which are homes in your immediate area that have sold in the past “X” number of months, maybe three to six months. By comparable, I mean homes with similar square footage, age, view, amenities, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and so forth.
And the more recent sales, the more opportunities your appraiser has to find that right value.
That said, installing granite countertops or new cabinets could result in a higher appraised value if it better aligns your home with higher priced sales (best and worst home improvements).
Also, if you can renovate a basement/attic or similar prospective living space, the addition could boost square footage and push your home into a higher bracket with more expensive homes.
That’s really the key to a high house appraisal, getting compared to the pricier homes in your area.
You’re Only as Valuable as Those Around You
On the other hand, installing fancy technology or oddball amenities won’t do you much good, as they’ll probably be unique additions that have no comparables, and thus no value add.
As a rule of thumb, you never want to be the owner of the most luxurious home in the neighborhood because the properties around you will simply drag down your own home’s value.
Conversely, if your home isn’t in the best shape compared to those around you, you’ll probably still benefit with a higher appraised value as a result of those nicer homes, which in turn boost the value of the surrounding area.
You’re Only as Good as Your Appraiser
Keep in mind that different appraisers come up with different valuations, and there’s certainly a gray area when it comes to appraising homes.
Appraisers with a good understanding of your neighborhood will probably help you get that high house appraisal you want, as they’ll know more about recent sales, sales history, other homes on the market, and what it takes to get that right value.
Unfortunately, nowadays it’s quite common for banks and lenders to rely on automated valuation models, or AVMs, which don’t have that human touch.
So if you’re unable to get the value you want, check out some tips on what to do if the appraisal comes in low.