Having your home appraised to assess its value can be a stressful and nerve racking experience and it is only natural to want to do all that you can to make the place look and feel like it is worth the maximum amount possible.
For most people, the only time they have had their house appraised was way back when they were buying it, so smelly socks and scattered crayons would not have been an issue.
But things change and life gets hectic, so if you are having the value of your property reassessed you might quite rightly wonder whether the signs of life and the build up of baggage will negatively impact the outcome.
Read on to find out all you need to know about house appraisals, what they are, how they work, and what does and does not affect them.
What Exactly Is A House Appraisal?
A house appraisal is an inspection of your property by a professional housing surveyor or appraiser.
The appraiser will look at both the interior and exterior of your home to assess the state that it is in, in order to determine the property’s overall market value.
Why Would You Need To Get A House Appraisal?
Most people ask for a house appraisal if they are looking to refinance their home. In order to convince a mortgage lender to give you more money it is vital to prove to them that they are not lending you more than your house is actually worth.
A mortgage lender could stand to lose a considerable amount of money if they over lent for many years and you accrued a surplus only to default on your payments.
It is easiest to think of refinancing a home as a very similar process to buying a home. You must have the property in question financially valued in order to determine how much money you can borrow.
Many things might have changed since you first bought your property that could impact its worth, such as damage, renovations, fluctuations in the housing market and developments in the neighborhood, therefore it is a very good idea to get an appraisal before you refinance.
What Does An Appraisal Entail?
During a house appraisal the licensed appraiser will walk through the entire house, looking at every room on every floor. They will make a note of any areas of interest as they go, and ask to see gas boilers, water tanks, electricity meters, fuse boxes and other specifics if necessary.
They will also look at the front and back gardens if you have them, and the garage too. They may ask questions about renovations and extensions to get a better idea about how the property has changed under your ownership.
Always be honest, even if that means admitting that you don’t have the exact answers to hand. The total appraisal can take just a few minutes in some cases, and several hours in others.
What Kinds Of Things Do Appraisers Look Out For?
As well as the age of the property, an appraiser will look at its structural integrity, general wear and tear, any damages to the building, and the price of similarly sized houses in the immediate neighborhood.
Interior Of Your Property
Things that the appraiser will evaluate in the interior of your house will include: square footage, structure, amenities, layout and potential hazards.
As they walk around they will inspect for structural faults, note down the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, measure the size of your kitchen and living spaces, and even look at your heating and plumbing systems to make sure that they are in good working order.
They will pay particular attention to skirting boards, handrails, banisters, wall paper, ceiling plaster, electrical wiring, flooring, windows and sills, fire escapes, amenities and kitchen surfaces.
Exterior Of Your Property
When they move to the exterior of your property the appraiser will inspect the roof, foundations, guttering, overall structure of the building, siding, the size of your garden, any overlooking buildings or trees that may have grown significantly since your initial purchase, parking and street access.
They may also ask about developments in the area as these can both positively and negatively impact on house prices.
For example, if a wonderful coffee shop and a great local school have opened up in the area, then the value of your property will benefit. In the same way, if crime has increased and lots of stores on the local high street are standing empty then this could negatively affect house prices.
What Can You Do To Improve Your Home’s Market Value?
Adding extensions and overseeing renovations can increase your property’s market value, but there are many, many factors that will be outside of your control.
What Kinds Of Mess Will Not Affect A House Appraisal?
Appraisers are professionally trained to see past mess and clutter that might be lying around in your home. The appraisal is of the building itself, not the objects and furniture within it and certainly not of you.
It is important to know that you are not being judged, and that socks and shoes, toys and books, even dirty plates and bowls in the sink, should bear no weight on the upshot of your appraisal.
What Kind Of Mess Might Influence A House Appraisal?
That having been said, there are some extreme kinds of mess that could impact the value of your house if they are causing long term damage.
Mould in bathrooms and bedrooms is an example of ‘mess’ that might impact your appraisal. Terrible odours and smoking stains on carpets and wallpaper could also have a detrimental effect. Peeling wallpaper, chipped window sills, broken glass and tiles, and rusting taps are also not ideal.
And whilst general clutter is perfectly acceptable, if clutter becomes prohibitive to movement, and makes it difficult for the appraiser to enter certain spaces, then they could dock points off your overall score.
How Can You Prepare For A House Appraisal?
The best approach to preparing for a house appraisal is to identify areas of the building that might be showing signs of neglect and clean them up.
There is no need to spring clean the entire house, throw away bags of clothes and clutter and make yourself unnecessarily tired and stressed. However fixing appliances, and cleaning rust, mould and stains from permanent surfaces like walls, floors and ceilings is a good idea.