There are some things you can do on your end to avoid low appraisals. First and foremost, make sure your house is in great shape before the appraisal. Treating an appraisal like an open house is not a bad idea, as “curb appeal” can make a good impression when the appraiser visits. It may not be much, but every little bit helps, and you want your home to look the best it can be when it’s getting appraised for its value. Highlighting any recent renovations or upgrades you have done to your home—even putting your “before photos” out on the counter, or providing the appraiser with a list of upgrades you’ve done can’t hurt.
Getting rid of the clutter definitely wouldn’t hurt either. Most appraisals require a photo of each room, so a well-kept property can help. The best thing that you can do to get ready is to make sure that the appraiser has easy access to the entire property, inside and out. Pay careful attention to areas that you may not frequently access, like tool sheds, attics and basements.
Also, dig up some comps yourself with the help of your real estate agent. Real estate sales are a matter of public record, so feel free to spend the time to find houses like yours in your neighborhood. And if need be, do some research to identify any extenuating circumstances that produced lower prices that some comparable homes sold for. Instances like a death or divorce in the family can lead to a seller taking a lower offer than they would in a normal circumstance; also, poor conditioning of the home or a foreclosure will definitely affect a home’s value. Do the research and make this information available to the appraiser, as these efforts can only help your cause.
Once the appraisal is finished, double check the final report submitted. It’s not a problem to request to see what the appraiser turned in. You want to check for factual mistakes—wrong lot size, wrong square footage, or an incorrect number of bathrooms are just some of the errors that will affect the value of your home if this information is not reported and evaluated correctly. You won’t insult the appraiser by checking on your report, as appraisers understand how important this will be to the sale or refinancing of your home.