Top 5 Questions Real Estate Home Property Appraisers Get Asked

How do I prepare for a home appraisal?

One of the most favored tips I share with homeowners about the best way to prepare a home for an appraisal inspection is:

  • Check your local neighborhood Realtor listings at https://www.realtor.com
  • Find a few homes similar to yours
  • If they have an Open House, visit those homes and take notes of what they’ve done to prepare it for listing purposes

And while this may seem like a bit of overkill, having to go check out the competition, that is exactly what you are doing and chances are, the appraiser will use comparable properties that have been “property prepped” and/or “staged”.

If that seems to be a bit extreme and you’re looking for some “quick tips”, generalized cleanup and maintenance are fine. Appraisers do understand that when a home is lived in, there’s just not enough time in the day to keep up with it all. But one of the key things to keep in mind, the more an appraiser can visually observe, the better the inspection goes.

What do Bank appraisers look for?

With regards to the house itself and in general, Bank appraisers look for the quality of materials and workmanship and the condition of the exterior and interior improvements.  Bank requested appraisals also require appraisers to follow certain guidelines from various entities such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, or USDA. There are also the banks underwriting guidelines.

home exterior interior

But regardless of who orders the appraisal, an appraiser is looking for those items and/or components that ultimately will have an effect on the overall marketability and/or value.

What factors are used in a home appraisal?

The most common factors used in a home appraisal are typically defined by the type of report being used to reconcile an estimated market value. There are a variety of forms that are used depending on the Client’s scope of work and/or intended use of the appraisal. The most common form for residential home appraisals is the FNMA 1004 form.

FNMA 1004 form

Within the standard and simplified FNMA 1004 are 10 sections that include;

  • Subject
  • Contract
  • Neighborhood
  • Site
  • Improvements
  • Sales Comparison Approach
  • Reconciliation
  • Cost Approach
  • Income Approach
  • PUD Information

Each section has “factors” that the appraiser must research and collect data for. Each section requires its own set of variables that will ultimately lead the appraiser to reconcile a professional opinion of market value.

Do appraisers look in closets?

The short answer, yes. The long answer is that it depends on the individual appraiser and whether or not they deem it necessary to look in closets. But as a general rule of thumb and good practice, appraisers should look in closets. It should be noted that appraisers do take into consideration a homeowner’s privacy and if the homeowner asks the appraiser not to look into a closet for personal privacy reasons, as long as there are not any suspicious motivations behind the request, most appraisers will respect that request.

Does a messy house affect an appraisal?

This is somewhat of a tricky question and a majority of the answer is “it depends”. While not all “messes” will have an effect on marketability or value, there are some that will. A good rule of thumb is that if it is the typical “lived-in” mess, chances are there will be no adverse conditions that affect the appraisal.

If however there are some permanent type messes that would require some type of repair or clean up, then yes, there will be an effect on the appraisal. A couple of the more permanent type interior messes that come to mind are pet and heavy smoker related stains and odors. As for the exterior, it is not uncommon for DIYer’s to have unfinished and sometimes “messy” looking outdoor projects that fall under the “curb appeal” category which in turn can have some degree of affecting the appraisal.

But as stated above, it really all depends on the type of mess and whether or not it can be easily remedied or whether it would require repairs and/or substantial clean-up.

More FAQ’s coming soon…

What do appraisers look at when appraising a home?

What happens if the appraisal comes in low?

Do appraisers take pictures?

What does an appraiser look at?

How does an appraiser determine the value of your home?