How to Prepare for an Appraisal

For homeowners, a real estate appraisal is the linch pin to buying or selling their home. It allows the property transaction to occur among the buyer, seller, real estate agent and mortgage lender.

Before an Appraiser arrives, there are a few things you should know. By law, an appraiser must be state licensed or certified to perform appraisals prepared for federally related transactions which must be ordered by the lender. Also by law, you are entitled to receive a copy of the completed appraisal report from your lender. The appraiser, however, cannot, by law, furnish you a copy unless you are the client ordering the report.

To facilitate the appraisal process, it's beneficial to have these documents ready for the appraiser:

  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if readily available)
  • Information on all transfers of the property in the last three years including purchases
  • Written property agreements, such as a maintenance agreement for a shared driveway
  • List of personal property to be sold with the home
  • Title policy that describes encroachments or easements (if any)
  • Most recent real estate tax bill and/or legal description of the property
  • Home inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and wells
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and upgrades, the date of their installation and their cost (for example, the addition of central air conditioning or roof repairs) and county permit confirmation (if available)
  • A copy of the current listing agreement, broker's data sheet and the Purchase Agreement (Contract) signed by all parties if a sale is "pending".
  • Information on "Homeowners Associations" or condominium covenants and fees.
  • A list of "Proposed" improvements if the property is to be appraised "As Complete" or "Subject To."

You can upload and attach any of these documents to your order on my website for your convenience and assurance that we have them.

Once your appraiser has arrived, you do not need to accompany him or her along on the entire site inspection unless you wish, but you should be available to answer questions about your property and be willing to point out any home improvements or deficiencies.

Here are some other suggestions:

  • Accessibility: Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible, especially access between bushes and the house and to the basement, attic and crawl space.
  • Housekeeping: Appraisers see many homes per year and will look past most clutter, but they're human beings too! A good impression might translate into a higher home value but don't worry if you don't have time to wash the dishes or make the beds.
  • Maintenance: Repair minor things like leaky faucets, missing/broken door handles and trim.
  • FHA/VA Inspection Items: If your borrower is applying for an FHA/VA loan, be sure to ask the lender and your appraiser if there are specific things that should be done before they come. Some items they may recommend might be: Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels (especially near bedrooms); install or repair handrails, if lose or damaged, on all stairways; remove peeling paint and repaint the effected area; provide inspection access to the attic and crawl space. Make sure all utilities are turned on and all appliances work.