How do I prepare for a home appraisal?

You want your house to be in at least tidy condition. The reason for this is that the appraiser is going to look at the property as if the house was available for sale as of the date of the appointment. If a typical buyer would reject the house because it looked like the site of a tornado, an appraisal would naturally be affected.  Simply try to present the house to the appraiser as you would to guests, and it should be fine. That means pick up the laundry off the floor, tidy up and try and put your homes best foot forward.  This may spark some controversy, but if agents indicate buyers will discount a house due to appearance, why not take the time to tidy up before the appraiser comes for a visit?

My husband and I recently hired Rachel Massey to appraise a home we purchased. We had heard she was highly respected in her field. Ms. Massey was professional, friendly, thorough, detail-oriented, and extremely knowledgeable in her area of expertise. We highly recommend Massey & Associated Valuation Services.
— Carolyn H - Ann Arbor

What do appraisers look for when appraising a home?

There is a lot that goes into the valuation process and the appraiser’s analysis. Most of what you will see directly is the site/house observation. This tends to be one of the shortest parts of the process, taking anywhere between a half hour and two hours or so, depending on the size of the property. At the property, appraisers are typically looking at the quality and the condition of the improvements (the house and other value adding attributes), the quality of specific upgrades, size of the house, lot, garages, decks, etc. This site observation helps set the stage for what characteristics of the property the appraiser considers to be most relevant, which drives the comparable search criteria.

In addition to what is observed at the property, the appraiser is going to follow the valuation process, which includes determining who is their intended user, what the use of the results will be, what type and definition of value comes into play, what the effective date of the opinion will be, whether there are any conditions to the assignment that need to be considered, what they need to do to solve the problem, and the data collection and analysis sides. This is before addressing the different approaches to value, and reconciling these into a final opinion of value.

How long does a home appraisal take?

This is very dependent on the nature of the problem and the house itself.  A simple mortgage appraisal assignment for a subdivision house with lots of good viable sales may take anywhere from five to ten hours to complete, while a custom house on acreage with very few sales could take upwards of forty hours for the same purpose, and many more if there is litigation involved. As with all thing’s appraisal, my mantra is “it depends”

How much does it cost to get a home appraised?

Every appraiser has a different opinion on how much to charge. Here we look at a dollar per hour rate, and try to factor that into a fee for one service. Because of that, we will interview you about the property to be appraised, who is going to use the appraisal, why you need it, and if there are any unusual circumstances involved.

Can I get a home appraised prior to making an offer?

Absolutely!  Of course, the seller may reject even the most credible appraisal report used for the bid, so do be aware this is for your edification and use. It may help with negotiations or may not, but what it will do is give you some peace of mind related to whether or not you want to move forward with an offer.