At appraisal time, home sellers hold their breath (at least figuratively) while they wait to see whether their home’s value will support their asking price.
If the appraisal comes in lower than the agreed-upon contract price, both buyers and sellers may have to reconsider or renegotiate the contract, or the transaction may well fall apart.
Although no one can legally attempt to sway the appraiser, home sellers can take some steps to make the appraiser’s job easier and to make sure their home comes across in the best possible light.
Why Home Sellers Want a High Real Estate Appraisal
In most real estate purchase contracts, the buyer is protected by legal language known as an appraisal contingency.
This contingency ensures that, if the appraisal comes in below the contract price, the buyer will not be forced to pay more than the appraisal value. The seller has the option of lowering the sale price to match the appraisal or canceling the transaction.
If the appraisal comes in at or above the contract price — which buyer and seller have negotiated to their mutual satisfaction — no one has to worry about modifying the contract or renegotiating any of its terms.
Make All Possible Repairs
For the benefit of both the appraiser and the home inspector, repair as much as possible around your house.
Although the appraiser won’t test appliances and turn on faucets, they will scrutinize every part of your home. If the appraiser perceives that your home is tired and worn, this will potentially hurt the value.
If you aren’t sure what repairs you should make, your Realtor® can walk through your home with you and point out issues that may potentially affect the appraisal.
Give Your Home a Good Cleaning
While the appraiser will not technically ding you for having a dirty or messy home, the subconscious impact could make a difference in how he or she perceives it.
If you’ve ever traded in a car that’s dirty or has a broken windshield, you may have gotten less for your trade. It all goes back to the perception of how well you have maintained the property.
Even if your home is a little dated or worn, the appraiser will possibly look more favorably on the property if it’s clean and free of clutter.
Leave During the Appraisal (and Take Your Pets with You)
Just as you should leave your home when potential buyers want to view it, you should also make yourself scarce during the appraisal. No, you don’t technically have to leave, but it will make the appraiser’s job easier and help prevent any unwanted distractions. Also, some home sellers tend to want to talk to the appraiser or ask questions that may not be appropriate.
Your Realtor® can arrange to be there or, in many cases, appraisers simply use the lockbox and access the house alone.
Also, take your pets out of the home when the appraiser comes. If they have to work around a pet — for instance, if it makes the backyard off-limits — this may potentially affect your value.
In Southern California, the Edie Israel Team provides expert representation for both home sellers and buyers. Contact us today for more information.