To understand what can hurt a home appraisal, you will be better served to learn the factors that go into a home appraisal first.
The design and structure of the home are considered when being appraised. Is your house old? Where is it located? Are you on acres of land or in a family-friendly suburb; maybe you’re in downtown New York City. Is it one story or three? The space and layout of your house are crucial to the value of your home. If you have more bathrooms than bedrooms or five bedrooms to one bathroom, it is likely to impact the value of your home. Consider what materials were used to build your home and how that affects its durability. The most obvious factor is the square footage. If your house is quaint, it isn’t likely to be appraised at a large amount.
There are some things that can negatively affect your home appraisal that are beyond your control.
Appraisers value your home based on the homes around you. If you’re near homes that are poorly taken care of, foreclosed, or not in the same bracket of quality, your home will also take a hit for it. This also means that if the housing market isn’t doing very well around you, it’s not going to do well for you either.
Appraisers may also perform appraisals they are unqualified for. When the market is saturated, appraisers become overworked and are forced to work outside of their area of knowledge. When they aren’t educated on the worth of your home's assets, the appraisals could come back lower than what your home is really worth. Appraisers could also be unfamiliar with your neighborhood, therefore underestimating the value of homes around you.
This also translates into rushed inspections. If things aren’t looked over well enough, unique parts of your house may be skipped.
It is best to speak with the appraiser while they are in your home to ensure they haven’t forgotten important elements of your home.
As for things you can control: décor and appliances. If your home is outdated and the décor doesn’t match the era or has visible wear and tear, the appraisal is going to reflect that. It is a good rule of thumb to put a fresh and updated coat of paint on the walls before having your home appraised.
Neglecting your house and failing to upkeep on the responsibilities of homeownership is a sure way to ruin your appraisal. Being proactive on broken and leaky pieces in your home, although costly, only gets more expensive with time.
If you can’t seem to find the time to fix and update things before an appraiser inspects your home, make sure to communicate the changes and fixes you plan to make before the home is sold. If you promise to fix the leaking ceiling or replace a cracked window, you’re held to that monetary standard.