What is a Home Appraisal?

A professional home appraisal is required when selling a home — and it’s also important for refinancing. The unbiased opinion of your home’s value gives potential buyers and lenders a clear picture of a home’s worth.

While some influencing factors are outside of your control — such as proximity to good schools and the value of nearby homes — a few simple steps may help increase the value of your home.

When you sell your home, an appraiser will estimate how much your home is worth in the process of a home appraisal. The size, quality, condition, and presence or absence of key features impact your home’s appraised value.

In a nutshell: A fair opinion of value gives buyers and lenders a clear picture of a home’s worth.

Here are a few things that an appraiser will take into consideration when determining your home’s value:


The total number of square feet, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and lot size greatly impact your home’s value. Obviously, larger homes and lot sizes are appraised for higher values.


The closer your home is to grocery stores, public transportation, good school districts, and restaurants, also affects the value of your home. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the market value of your location, the higher your appraisal value.


Appraisers look for high-end materials that homebuyers seek. Some of these features include hardwood flooring, stainless steel appliances, and stone countertops. The quality and condition of other interior features can also increase your home’s appraisal value. These features include walls, windows, doors, appliances, fixtures, and plumbing.


The exterior of your home is equally as important as the interior though. More specifically, you home’s foundation, roof, and siding. Similar to countertops, the materials your home is made of will impact your the value of your home. High-quality materials, such as stone or fiber-cement siding, increase your home’s value.


Popular entertainment, such as a garage, fireplace, view, yard, or patio increase your home’s value.


Appraisers review the workmanship, condition, and finishes of home improvements. Updates to the kitchen and bathrooms can have a significant impact on your home’s value. And on the flip side, damages, defects, wear and tear can negatively impact your appraisal estimate.

Tips to Increase Your Property’s Value

So, the question of “How do I increase my property’s value according to an appraiser?” arises. Luckily, I’ve listed nine projects (that might require some elbow grease) that will help boost your home’s value and give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Refresh Paint, Remove Clutter

The quickest, easiest way to increase your chances of a higher appraisal is paint. Paint can take YEARS off of an outdated home. Be sure to check out my “8 DIY Weekend Projects” blog post for more information about picking neutral paint colors. According to the post, “The best part of of a home repainting project if that you can most definitely complete it in a weekend and potentially see 1 to 2% of a property value increase when it comes time to sell. Keep things simple and neutral, and you’re set.” Freshening up the paint on your walls not only can help make your home more modern, but it can cover up crayon marks, scratches, dings, and other marks on your walls that could reduce your home’s value. Picking up clutter on the floors and some simple organization will help make a good impression.

Replace Worn Carpet and Flooring

Did you know that replacing or shampooing your carpets has a 169% ROI? New carpet or flooring that mimics the look of hardwood can add several thousand dollars in value to your home. If you don’t have the money to replace all of your flooring, focus on fixing damaged sections and getting carpets professionally cleaned before an appraisal. For more tips, check out my “8 DIY Weekend Projects” blog post.

Update Elements of the Kitchen and Bathrooms

Touching up these rooms remains the gold standard for netting you the best return on your home-improvement dollars. Keeping them clean certainly goes a long way, but you can do low-cost upgrades that add value, too, such as removing wallpaper, refinishing laminate countertops, painting cabinets and hanging new light fixtures. One of the easiest and least inexpensive project is to update all of the hardware and fixtures in your home to match current trends and provide a cohesive style. These upgrades could include: light fixture, sink, door knob, cabinet handles/pulls and light switch plates. It’s an inexpensive way to make your home look move-in ready and up to date. You don’t have to do a complete renovation or spend a lot of money to gain value in these rooms for an appraisal, but making a few updates will earn value adjustments in your favor.

Create Curb Appeal

A property appraiser isn’t going to spend much time judging your home’s exterior, but a good first impression doesn’t hurt. If you can keep your yard mowed, tidy, and weed-free, you’re on your way to impressive curb appeal. A few tips for to help you go above and beyond for great curb appeal, try to boost your curb appeal with a few final touches such as new house numbers, a new mailbox, and maybe even a fresh coat of paint on your front door (perhaps even with a bold color). Also, cleaning up flower beds and re-doing the mulch are inexpensive, low-effort ways to make your home easy on the eyes. For more tips, check out my “8 DIY Weekend Projects” blog post.

Collect Your Own Comps

If you know of similar homes in the neighborhood that have recently sold, don’t hesitate to call them to the appraiser’s attention.  The appraiser may not be as familiar with your area as you are and could miss a comp (comparable homes in the area) that would work to your benefit. The appraiser might even appreciate the help.

Point Out Major Improvements 

If you recently replaced your roof or added a new patio, mention it. But don’t make major improvements now in hopes of increasing your home’s appraisal or resale value. Few such projects ever recoup 100% of their cost. For example, a major kitchen renovation costs close to $64,000 on average but returns only about 59% of that, roughly $38,000, according to Remodeling magazine’s “2018 Cost vs. Value Report.”

Be Available to Answer Questions

Offer to answer any questions the appraiser may have, but resist the urge to trail the appraiser from room to room.

Appraise the Appraiser

Look for credentials such as MAI or SRA, both of which are conferred based on an appraiser’s education and experience. If the appraisal comes in lower than you had hoped, you can gauge whether it was due to your unrealistic expectations or possible appraiser inexperience or incompetence.

Know Your Rights 

If you hire the appraiser to determine your home’s value, the appraisal belongs to you. If you’re refinancing your mortgage and the lender hires the appraiser, the lender is required to provide you with a copy (possibly for a reasonable fee) of the appraisal and any other home value estimates. Review the written appraisal for errors and whether the comps the appraiser chose are reasonably similar to your home. If necessary, appeal the appraisal with your lender or ask it to order a second appraisal.

The Bottom Line

Do what you can to make sure your home is appraised for as much money as possible. These options will give you the best chance of scoring a higher appraisal value that will, in turn, help you get the mortgage that meets your real estate goals… but don’t over-invest in renovations based on boosting your home’s value because you probably won’t recoup what you spend.

If you’re serious about selling your home and want to get the biggest return on investment, give me a call and let’s chat about how I can help. I would love to brainstorm together and provide a walkthrough and point out any areas that might need a little extra TLC before you list.

The key to listing success is communication and using a Realtors expertise to your advantage. Realtors are trained to look at the little details in your home that buyers will notice and comment on. Let me help ensure all of your hard earned dollars and time are invested towards the most important projects. No one wants to waste time and effort on work that won’t pay off.

Give me a call at  770.475.5530, email at marylou@maryloulanaux.com, or complete the contact form here.


(Source: Deborah Kearns, NerdWallet | Greg Daugherty, Investopedia | Chad Pluid, RedFin)

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