If you’ve ever bought or sold a house, you know the crucial role home appraisers play in the outcome. Even if you haven’t had the (sometimes stressful) pleasure of buying or selling a home, you should still familiarize yourself with what a home appraiser does—and how it impacts your bottom line should you ever find yourself closing in on a home sale.
On average, a single-family residential home appraisal will cost between $300 and $500, though that price may go up for larger homes. The same is true if a home has certain features that require more time and expertise to appraise. In most cases, the appraisal fee is the buyer’s responsibility. However, you’ll need to pay the cost if you’re trying to learn the value for non-sales reasons. If you’re hiring an appraiser, verify that they are state-certified and have relevant experience in your location. Familiarity with the community helps appraisers accurately set the price of a home.
Prepare for a home appraiser by making sure the home is as neat and clutter-free as possible. A clear area helps eliminate potential distractions so they can take a thorough look at everything. It’s also a good idea to handle all minor repairs in advance. Exterior damage, chipped or peeling paint, and torn screens tend to give the impression of a home that has not been well-kept.
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Appraisers will inspect your home for health and housing codes, count the total square feet of all the rooms, look at the ease of layout, and consider things such as appliances and utilities. They’ll also factor in available parking and driveways, as well as the home’s exterior condition and curb appeal.
Inform the appraiser about any home enhancements, and how much they cost. Recent installations such as a new $5,000 furnace or a $15,000 roof can boost the home’s appraised value. If possible, give them written verification of the upgrades. Similarly, a recent copy of your property tax bill will help.
Be aware that any renovations done to the home without acquiring proper permits will likely show up in the appraisal or home inspection phase and could throw a wrench into your sale. Home sales are a significant reason you need to verify that your contractors pull all appropriate permits on any job. Skipping permits can come back to haunt you years later.
Some of the most critical factors affecting your home’s value may be out of your control. There’s a reason that real estate relies on three essential words: Location, location, location! The quality of nearby schools, access to roads, noise factors such as nearby trains, and other elements will all help determine the final cost. Appraisers will also factor in nearby home values and recent sale prices to estimate a local baseline.
In the end, if you don’t agree with your appraised value, you can bring it to the attention of the lender or company that ordered the appraisal. You’ll have the most luck if you can provide your lender with objective data, such as recent nearby home sales that were particularly low for reasons specific to that property rather than the neighborhood.
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