The Ultimate Home Appraisal Checklist for Sellers | 800CashToday
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The Ultimate Home Appraisal Checklist for Sellers

Published on 17 February 2022
young male engineer measuring a house window

The appraisal process ultimately determines the fair selling price of a house and comes at the end of the home buying process—that is, after the seller accepts an offer and the buyer is working with a lender. The appraisal process is ordered by the buyer’s mortgage lender, ensuring the home has the most accurate evaluation. Though you might have everything in boxes and you’re (literally) ready to move on, an appraisal stands between you and a done deal. 

So, how do you make sure you pass the appraisal process with flying colors while selling your home? Read our home appraisal checklist below that covers an appraiser's role, timing, what gets checked, and how you can best prepare. 

Step 1. Know the Appraiser’s Role

Appraisers work independently as licensed professionals who give a trustworthy opinion of value to federally regulated lenders. They have qualified knowledge of the area’s real estate market conditions so they can accurately come to a home’s true value. This ensures the lender and buyer aren’t overpaying and that the seller is receiving an unbiased and accurate price for their house.

Step 2. What an Appraiser Looks For

The appraisal process differs slightly depending upon which loan the buyer is taking out—FHA, USDA, VA, or conventional. It’s worth noting that a home appraisal assesses value while a home inspection determines condition, though an appraiser will still look at your home’s condition to help determine its value.

Conventional Loans

  • Your home’s condition (particularly damage, cracks, leaks, etc.)
  • Appliance condition (furnace, air conditioning, water heater)
  • Lighting and plumbing quality
  • Property size
  • Landscaping quality
  • Swimming pool and/or sprinkler system condition
  • Roofing quality
  • Number of rooms, bedrooms, closets, bathrooms, windows
  • Number of fireplaces
  • Basement quality
  • Any upgrades or remodeling work
  • Noteworthy details like hardwood flooring or granite countertops

FHA and USDA Loans

Follows the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines bulleted below.

  • Drainage flows away from the house
  • A roof without leaks that will last longer than two years
  • Chipped and/or lead-based paint
  • Driveway or sidewalk damage
  • Termites
  • Handrails by steps and stairs
  • Proper ventilation and working mechanical systems
  • A foundation that can handle “normal loads imposed on it”

VA Loans

With a government-backed VA loan, the VA selects an appraiser who is also licensed by the VA. The appraiser then issues a Notice of Value (NOV) following the review process in which they’ll look out for the items listed below. The NOV includes the final home value as well as any necessary repairs that must be done before the deal can close.

  • Heating system that goes up to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • A solid roof that will last a “reasonable amount of time”
  • Working sewer system and water heater
  • Clean drinking water
  • Solid foundation
  • Functioning utilities
  • Peeling paint
  • Required pest inspection
  • Missing handrails by a staircase
  • Water stains
  • Rotting wood
  • Broken windows
  • Exposed wiring and electrical issues

“Subject to” Flags

In most appraisals, the “subject to” flag points out areas or problems that need further inspection before the mortgage loan may be approved. This typically happens when the appraiser isn’t an expert in that area and wants a professional opinion on mold, termites, roof leaks, or environmental hazards, to name a few.

Step 3. Understand an Appraisal’s Cost and Timing 

Typically, the buyer pays for the appraisal once the seller accepts the buyer’s offer. The appraisal process can range anywhere from $400 to $1000, depending on location and property type. The on-site portion of the appraisal can take as little as 20 minutes to a couple hours as the appraiser goes through the home taking photos of the property to document its condition. After that, it can take three to five days for the appraiser to write a report and send it to the buyer’s lender.

Step 4. Have a Flexible Schedule

In today’s booming seller’s market, appraisers are busy and often running around to meet deadlines, sometimes within 30 days. Rearranging your schedule or being available on days other than the weekend allows the appraiser to get in quickly, do their job, and close the deal.

Step 5. Create a List of Home Details

Features or upgrades that could raise the value of your home are worth compiling together to show the appraiser. For example, the appraiser might overlook quartz countertops and mistake them for quartzite (a cheaper, man-made material). This goes for upgraded water heaters, furnaces, pools, and roofs as well. 

Include the date of installation, cost with receipts, and permits if available/applicable. However, just because the material or upgrade may be worth a certain amount, it doesn’t mean it will transfer dollar for dollar to your home’s selling price. A prior appraisal can also be useful information to the appraiser.

Step 6. Minor Repairs

Appraisals focus on the value of your house, not repairs. However, repairing small things around the house may prevent the appraiser from having to return. Putting on a fresh coat of paint to cover chips or cracked paint can do wonders. Also, spruce up your home’s curb appeal and invest some time into landscaping. All light switches, wall outlets, fans, and vents should be in working order.

kitchen with oak cabinets, tile countertops, gas stove and green flooring

Step 7. Make Sure Everything Is Accessible

Crawl spaces under the house, the basement, and the attic should all be easily accessible by the appraiser (personal items should be cleared from the pathway so they have a clear shot to whichever space they’re inspecting). Though not necessary, it’s helpful to have a ladder handy. 

Step 8. Make Yourself Scarce!

It’s a fine line between being around for answers and documents versus being in the way. Appraisers can walk around the house four times to complete the necessary inspections and collect all the information they need, so though it’s important to be nearby should any questions arise, it’s also important to give them the space they need to do their job.

Sell Your Home As-Is With 800CashToday

The home appraisal process can be stressful, time consuming, and expensive. You may need to make repairs or upgrades to your house. If you want to avoid these additional costs, you could consider selling your home as-is instead.

Many cash buyers would be interested in buying your home in its current condition. When you sell your home with 800CashToday, you’re choosing to sell your house the easy way. Visit our website or call us at 1-800-CASH-TODAY to learn more about selling your home to a motivated local buyer.