Getting a high appraisal value is key to maximizing your earnings if you're selling a house or applying for a home equity loan. When appraisers evaluate homes, they base value on what they see. By changing what they see, you can change the value the appraisers generate. Further, you don't need to do a lot of expensive work to increase your value.
When the appraiser first drives up to your property, she should notice its attractive exterior. To achieve this, simple steps such as pressure-washing your home's siding and driveway, maintaining your yard, planting a display of annual flowers for additional color and painting your front door can go a long way towards increasing your value without requiring a lot of money.
An appraiser also judges a home's interior with a buyer's eye. At the same time, she'll need full access to document your house's features. Decluttering makes it easier for the appraiser to valuate your house's features and upgrades. A major part of decluttering is throwing things out. If you clear your counters but shove everything into cabinets, you'll end up with cluttered closets and cabinets. Given the value of a good closet, hiding it from your appraiser isn't a good idea. If you're moving, throw away unnecessary items.
Any projects that you're still working on should be finished before the appraiser comes. If she sees construction in progress, she may get the impression that there are problems with your home. Spackle any holes in the walls and repaint surfaces. Also, put finishing touches on previously repaired problems. For example, stained ceilings from old roof leaks should be repainted to cover the water damage.
After the Appraisal
If the appraiser came before you had a chance to prepare your house and yourself, he has already calculated your value. You might have a few options, though. Ask your lender for a second appraisal. Since things will have changed at your property, a second appraisal may show a higher value. If you're getting an appraisal in conjunction with a Federal Housing Administration loan, the appraisal will be attached to your property for at least six months, making it harder to find an appraiser willing to reevaluate the property.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.