How Sellers Can Prepare for the Home Appraisal

Amanda Oboza, Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS®
Published 11:16 a.m. ET Sept. 24, 2020


No matter if you’re selling your home or refinancing your mortgage, a key step in the transaction is the real estate appraisal. This is a critical part of the process because it gives potential buyers and lenders a clear picture of your home’s worth.

With so much riding on the outcome of the appraisal, sellers often wonder if there is anything they can do to prepare. Here are just a few steps you can take to help things run as smoothly as possible.

Make safety a priority

The real estate industry is full steam ahead, but COVID-19 is still a concern, and that means the health and safety of all parties needs to be top-of-mind.

Beth Graham of Beth L. Graham Appraisals says she always wears a mask during appraisals and adds that limiting the number of people in the property can also help reduce risk.

“Some appraisers ask that no one be in the home, and some request that all occupants are out at least an hour before the appraisal starts…it just depends on the individual and their requirements and comfort level,” she said.

Graham says before leaving, there are a few things sellers can do to help minimize potential exposure.

“It helps if homeowners can turn on lights and open doors throughout the house — including access to the attic or crawl space — to limit the number of surfaces we touch,” she said. “That includes lights and doors in the garage, or any pole barns or outbuildings.”

Take care of maintenance

In addition to health precautions, one of the most important pre-appraisal steps is to look for any maintenance issues that could possibly affect value. Is there anything that needs repair? Do you have any loose floorboards? Does all the lighting work properly? Do the doors open and close easily? Are there any leaks?

Safety is also important, especially for certain types of mortgage loans. A few common red flags that are often cited in reports include peeling paint, missing handrails, and broken windowpanes.

While an appraiser is not necessarily there to make sure everything is in working order, they do like to see that a home has been well cared for. If routine maintenance hasn’t been done, it can impact the appraiser’s view of the property, particularly as he/she begins to compare it against other homes in the neighborhood.


A clean home makes a great first impression and makes the appraisal process easier for the appraiser.  

And don’t forget that cleaning extends outside. You don’t need to have an ornate or heavily landscaped lawn, but a clean exterior can give the appraiser a positive mindset going into the appointment. Keep your lawn mowed, trim trees and shrubs, edge along driveways and walkways, put away outdoor toys and tools, clear weeds from flower beds, and add some new mulch to freshen things up.

Have your paperwork ready

In addition to the information appraisers gather on their own, it’s helpful for them to know what types of updates, renovations, or repairs were done to the property. Some appraisers request this up front.

Pertinent information includes all major improvements or renovations, and info on the age/condition of the roof, major mechanical systems, and appliances. If you took on any DIY projects, you’ll need to show the original permits. If your home is newer, providing the original house plans is helpful.

If you don’t get everything sent over before the appraisal, at least make sure it’s available on the day of the appointment. You never know what might impact value, and if your appraiser doesn’t know about it, he/she can’t include it.

“Because of COVID, we’ve been trying to limit the amount of paperwork that changes hands, but it’s helpful if homeowners can leave important information out so we can take pictures of it or make notes,” said Graham.

Make it easy on the appraiser

In addition to the above tips, you can also help create a pleasant experience for the appraiser by removing pets from the home, keeping your home at a comfortable temperature, and as mentioned, limiting the number of people on the property during the appointment.

“Especially today when so many people are working from home and kids are in virtual classes, it’s a bit more difficult to have everyone out of the house,” said Graham. “But if you can take a walk around the block or even go on a short drive to allow us time to work, it can really help things run more efficiently.”

Visit the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® website at for a list of local real estate professionals who can help with your next transaction.  

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