Guidance is the most important thing you can offer your clients. And when it comes to prepping a home prior to appraisal, they will need your guidance more than ever. Get ahead of the game and make sure you and your clients are ready for appraisal with these important steps:
About a month before the appraiser arrives, have an honest talk with your clients about the curb appeal of the home. Impress upon them that good landscaping adds 5 – 11% to the sales price of a home. But remember, they might not see what you and the appraiser sees. Home selling and buying can be emotional, especially when it comes to the yard, so tread lightly. You want to be honest but you also don’t want to offend your clients.
Here’s a quick checklist to help clients review the curb appeal of a home:
• Front door – An often overlooked item, a fresh coat of paint is great for creating a ‘home well kept’ first impression.
• The body of the home – New paint is another high-impact prep item. Pick an updated color that is also neutral. Don’t forget to touch up flaking trim paint.
• Lawn – If it isn’t a healthy green, consider putting in sod or adding colorant. Adding fertilizer and watering consistently for two to three weeks prior to showing can
• Driveway – Pressure wash the driveway and sidewalk.
• Flower beds – Add fresh mulch and flowers.
• Trees – Trim back any branches that may be blocking windows or are resting on the roof
• Roof – Make sure the roof is clear of debris and that the gutters are clean and solidly attached to the house.
• Windows – Always clean the inside and outside of the windows. Make sure all windows can open and latch closed easily. Check to see if new window glazing is necessary.
• Light fixtures – Add updated light fixtures just outside the front door and in driveways that compliment the home.
• Mailbox – Add a new, clean mailbox, or add a fresh coat of paint to the current one.
• House numbers – Make sure the numbers are large and clean or replace them.
• Tone down the pets – If there are pet items in the front yard or entry area of the home, such as a doggie welcome mat, dog house, or pet litter, remove them.
Much like the outside of the house, you will need to talk to your clients (gently) about the inside of the house.
• Clutter: Tell them what clutter needs to go. Extra throw blankets, distracting art, cluttered kitchen counters—all of that can distract the appraiser or make their job harder if they have to climb past, over, and through piles of junk.
• Appliances – Remember the $500 rule: homes appraise in increments of $500. If an appliance is old or run down, a new one can help push the value of the home up.
• Floors – Consider updating vinyl to tile, damaged hardwood should be repaired, and any carpet that isn’t in great condition or is too unfashionable, stained, or damaged should be replaced.
• Walls and ceiling – A fresh coat of paint will push the appraisal value up with a small investment.
• Countertops – Installing updated countertops in the kitchen is a highly marketable value if time and cost allows for this improvement.
• Cabinets and doors – Tighten or replace loose knobs. Oil hinges where need for noiseless opening and closing.
• Faucets – Leaky plumbing makes buyers leery. Repair dripping sinks and showers head fixtures.
Not all clients share the same penchant for organization; worse yet, some clients have incorrect history information, which can hurt the appraisal value. Get ahead of the game by making sure that the information that the appraiser needs is correct, easy to access, and compiled into a typed, organized format ready to be handed over in a neat and tidy folder. The information that the appraiser needs is:
• Exact street address
• Number of bathrooms
• Number of bedrooms
• Year the home was built
• Square footage
• Comparable homes within a one-mile radius
• A list of any and all home improvements that have been done in the last fifteen years with details such as who the contractor was, their contact information, and cost. A CRES Permit History Report can provide this information and offer peace of mind to the buyer by showing them all properly permitted work on the home.
And finally, if you find that your clients are pushing back on your advice, highlight the numbers. Show where a few hundred dollars in updates and a few hours of time can return double and triple the return in increased marketability and appraisal value. Putting a homes best foot forward can make all the difference.