Home Appraisal Checklist: How Much Is Your Home Worth?

May 6, 2021 | Claire Tak Claire Tak

Need to know how much your house is worth to price it correctly? Follow this home appraisal checklist to get your home ready for an appraisal.

During the sale of a home, an appraiser is brought in to confirm a fair price for all parties involved in the transaction of the home, including the seller, buyer, and bank. If you’re ready to sell your house but don’t know how much your house is worth, you need an appraisal from a state licensed professional to determine this amount. 

Accurate pricing for your home is important. Price it too high and buyers may not be interested and your house may sit on the market for months. Price it too low and you may not get as much money in the sale. 

Get your home ready for a home appraisal by following this checklist and understand what it means when your home is appraised, inspected, and assessed. There are key differences in each. 

Home appraisals vs. home inspection

A home appraisal is not the same thing as a home inspection

An inspection, which is done by a professional home inspector, determines the overall condition of the house, for example, the plumbing, electrical, and foundation. This is usually done during the contingency period before the sale of a home is finalized. If the inspection report finds something wrong with the house, including a roof that needs repairs or water damage in the walls, for example, the buyer can either choose to back out of the house or go back to the seller and negotiate. 

A home appraisal examines the property’s value, which is determined by a comparable market analysis. This means the appraiser will compare it to other similar homes in your area. This will also include an inspection of the house, but only as it relates to the value of your house. For example, a home appraiser won’t look at the fixtures you have in your home, but will take into consideration the lot size of your property. The point of an appraisal is to give you an accurate price.

What an appraiser evaluates in your home

An appraiser will look at the overall general condition of your home, including:

  • The foundation of the house, plus roof and gutters 
  • Any glaring physical structural issues that would affect the property’s livability 
  • Peeling paint, plumbing leaks, or missing fixtures 

For the exterior of the home: 

  • The size of the lot
  • Zoning classification
  • Whether it has public utilities

For the interior of the home: 

  • Square footage of the home
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Whether the kitchen is remodeled (including energy efficient items) vs. updated
  • Basement, crawl space, or attic
  • Condition and materials of the walls, floors, and windows

What a home appraiser does not look for:

General personal aesthetics or personal touches around the house, including:

  • Ceiling fans
  • Window coverings or shutters
  • Hot tub

Appraised value vs tax assessed value

An appraised value of your home is different from a tax assessed value — which is only used by your local property tax authority in order to determine how much you will owe in taxes. 

A tax assessor doesn’t usually walk through your home, like a home appraiser does. 

Another key difference is if you find a discrepancy between the fair market value of the home (from the appraiser) and the assessed price of the home (for your taxes), you can challenge the assessed value in order to get it lowered. (Just a note: A lower assessed home doesn’t necessarily mean the value of the home will also be lower.) 

A property that has a higher assessed value than appraised value could end up costing you more in taxes. Disputing the assessment could save you money come tax time. Keep in mind that just because you disagree and challenge it doesn’t automatically mean you will get it lowered. 

FHA home appraisal checklist

An FHA loan, or Federal Housing Administration loan, requires a specific checklist that is slightly different from a conventional appraisal. If the home doesn’t meet these requirements, the loan may not be accepted. 

This matters because buyers may choose to apply for an FHA loan and if your house has these problems, the loan may fall through.

These include:

  • Damaged siding 
  • A driveway that needs repairs 
  • Exposed floorboards
  • Any form of water damage
  • A leaky roof
  • Peeling paint

VA loan home inspection checklist

A VA loan is provided by private lenders and is designed to help service members, veterans, and surviving spouses with the purchase of a home. VA guarantees a portion of the loan, which enables the lender to provide more favorable terms for the buyer. 

There are also specific aspects of a home that are looked at when buyers are securing a VA loan, such as:  

  • A secure foundation
  • A roof that doesn’t need repairs
  • Air conditioning and heating that work
  • Functioning sewer system 
  • Water heater

How to prepare for a home appraisal

Before the appointment for a home appraisal, make sure you prepare by:

  • Gathering relevant paperwork, such as tax documents related to your home, HOA documents, major home improvement documentation, such as installation, cost, and permit information
  • Repairing any squeaks, leaks, or peeling/chipped paint
  • Clearing out parts of the home that the appraiser may need to access to, including crawl spaces
  • Ensuring everything works, such as the garage door, air conditioner, and heater
  • Securing handrails along stairs or raised decks
  • Consider giving your home a deep clean — this includes a carpet cleaning, floor scrub, removing scuffs from the walls, re-caulking bathroom tubs, etc.  

Fair market value calculations

While there isn’t an exact calculation for how to determine the fair market value of your home, there are certain factors that you should take into consideration. 

These include:

  • Understanding the condition of your property, beyond cosmetic issues. (i.e., Utilities, sewer, lot size, etc.)
  • Your local real estate market 
  • Comps for your area, which are based on when the home was built, size, and types of renovations

The purpose of an appraiser is to determine the fair market value of your house. Appraisers are considered an unbiased, third-party participant in providing a value for your home. This ensures the amount the lender is providing doesn’t exceed the home’s value. It also means the home buyer and homeowner are receiving a fair price for the property. 

Are you ready to sell your home and are interested in learning more about our marketplace? Here’s how it works.

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