This is a sponsored column by Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate.
Appearance matters when it comes to selling your home. Stories of people’s appraisals coming in lower than comparable properties (“comps”) in the neighborhood would suggest that seller’s let things “slip” after getting their offer ratified when they should have continued to act as if the house was still on the market.
It may not seem necessary to spruce up the house for an appraisal, especially if you managed to get a good contract on it without doing those things. But you need to remember appraisers are people, and they are just as influenced by physical appearances as buyers.
Your house has to look it’s best when the appraiser comes through lest they appraise the property lower than it’s worth. This is especially true when you’re getting your home appraised for a refinance and it has not been on the market! For a small investment, you can make sure your deal doesn’t fall through based on a bad appraisal.
Here are three tips to getting a great appraisal for your home.
1. Address the curb appeal
The appraisal starts the moment the appraiser sees you home. Make sure the exterior of your house looks good — mow the lawn, do some weeding and lay down fresh mulch. If your home needs a good power washing, do it. Many Reston homes tend to collect algae on the roofs (a downside of the wooded communities); it looks awful and is easy to clean.
2. Make it Look Its Best
It’s important to keep the look, feel, and condition of your property as updated and cared-for as possible. While the appraiser probably won’t look under your couch for dust bunnies, she will look at the home’s overall cleanliness. That means you need to get the cobwebs out of the corners and clean the fingerprints around door handles. Replace the old vinyl floors and wash your windows. All of these things affect the value of your home, and they add up.
This is also a good time to do some of the upgrades you’ve been thinking about. Paint, new carpets, lights, and plumbing fixtures are relatively low cost upgrades that can make a huge difference in your appraisal.
My friends in the business have this tip of the trade: appraisers often value houses in $500 increments. Repairs that should be made count against your property. Fixing leaky faucets, stained drywall, and cracked windows all cost less than $500, so you automatically make a return.
3. Make it comfortable and inviting
Tidy up. Don’t make the appraiser trip over toys or have to move furniture. And make sure the temperature is comfortable — not too hot and not too cold. Yes, that really matters! Using you heat or air conditioning is also a tip off that these items are in working order.
These things are all relatively easy, quick fixes that go a long way toward improving the outcome of your appraisal.