Home Selling

10 Things That Make Your House Look Messy During an Appraisal

By Ashley Wirgau on June, 8 2022
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Ashley Wirgau

It’s hard to keep a tidy house all of the time, but if you are closing in on an appraisal date or showings, get ready to clean up your act (at least until the onlookers have left).

While a basic deep clean is an obvious must in the days prior to placing your home on the market, there are other potential problems to look out for, as well. Even a house that sparkles can come off as messy when the following ten untidy things aren’t addressed.


1. Unfinished Home Improvement Projects

One of the fastest ways to take your house from masterpiece to mess is to start tackling home improvement projects…and then never finish them. We all have that one friend whose house is always torn apart. An incomplete bathroom remodel or a half-painted wall brings down the ambiance each time you walk into their home, and as soon as one project is conquered, another tends to crop up.


Don’t fall into the trap of the eternal renovator. Before starting a project, make sure you have the funds, materials, labor, and time to get the project across the finish line – especially if your home is about to hit the market. No one wants to inherit a remodeling job, and even a minor incomplete renovation can hurt your appraisal amount.


2. Hobbies That Don’t Have a Home

It’s great that you’ve recently taken up macrame and woodworking, but unfortunately, the living room is not the best location for your supplies. Crafting kits, workout equipment, instruments, rock collections – whatever passions drive your life – these passions should not derail the order of your home. While people might be interested in hearing about your hobbies, they don’t necessarily want to sit next to them on the couch. Show that hobby the respect it deserves by finding it a real home (like in the garage) before it starts to take over yours.


3. Insufficient Storage Options

Homes with inadequate storage solutions end up looking messy no matter how often you clean. When items don’t have a proper place, they oftentimes end up out in the open, making your home appear unkempt. Adding a bookcase, antique wardrobe, or buffet can help elevate common-use areas like dining rooms and dens by hiding some of those misfit items. Installing shelving kits in pantries or closets also helps keep things off of the floor and adds organization to your house. If you find yourself short on space, consider moving your storage options outside to create more room on the inside.


4. Undefined Rooms

It helps to maintain organization within a home when each room has a defined purpose. This also comes in handy when placing your home up for sale as your current “junk room” will likely attract more buyers when staged as a workout space or home office. If you currently have rooms without a clear purpose, take some time to discover how you might better utilize that particular space.


5. Clutter Corners

Every house has areas in it that tend to collect stuff. From coffee mugs to snail mail to missing puzzle pieces, clutter corners have a way of calling in all that random junk that nobody knows what to do with. Though they seem to serve a purpose, they most definitely will not serve you well when it comes time to sell.


For some of us, that corner might actually be an entire room or section of our house like the basement or garage. If your clutter corner has expanded, it’s time to cut it down to size. Consider a quick purge of belongings and either sell or donate seldom-used items. Not only will this help to make your house less messy, it will also decrease your moving costs.


6. Items on the Floor

When the floor is hard to find, it’s time for an intervention. Floor space becomes compromised when too many furniture pieces are added to an area or if the kids’ toys start to overflow into shared living space. Even the most spacious house can feel cramped when this happens. Show appraisers and prospective purchasers how much your home has to offer by clearing the floor of everything that doesn’t belong. Then, once you can see it again, give it a quick sweep for good measure.


7. Pets

While we couldn’t live without them, pets are one of the biggest contributors to household mess, and, regardless of how cute Felix or Fido is, they can bring along quite a bit to clean up. Prior to any appraisal or walk-through, make sure to clear the house and yard of any animal excrement and deodorize and hide all litter boxes. A very good vacuuming should also occur before guests arrive and all chewed or damaged items removed or replaced. The only evidence of your beloved bestie should be the doggy door.


8. Broken Furniture or Appliances

Furniture or large appliances in disrepair do not belong in your home when it’s time to sell. If they do not serve their intended purpose or are unable to be fixed, they need to go. Outdated or broken appliances can significantly decrease an appraisal, so if you are thinking of upgrading, it’s best to do this ahead of time.


9. Dirt and Dust

And, of course, houses in which dust and dirt are visible present a messy vibe. Fingerprinted windows and unwashed sinks or stovetops are equally unwelcoming. The days leading up to an open house or appraisal can be stressful and time-consuming, so consider hiring a professional cleaning service to take these tasks off of your hands if that falls within your budget.


10. Kids

Yes, we love them, but why do they have to be so messy? While the presence of children within a property can help to make it feel homey, bicycles, toys, video games, and any other kid-centered stuff must still adhere to the overall organization within the home. Be sure to have ample storage bins or toy boxes available to prevent your house from feeling overrun. Remember – people want to buy a home, not a daycare.


It's easy to get used to your own mess and overlook how your comfortable living space might come across to appraisers or potential buyers. Don’t let a few loose ends end up ruining the entire plan. By acknowledging and avoiding the ten traps above, you can ensure your house looks its absolute best.