How to Prepare for an Appraisal

For homeowners, a real estate appraisal is the linch pin to buying or selling their home. It allows the property transactions to occur among the buyer, seller, real estate agent and mortgage lender.

Before an Appraiser arrives, there are a few things you should know. By law, an appraiser must be state licensed or certified to perform appraisals prepared for federally related transactions. The appraisal must be ordered by the lender for federally related transactions. Also by law, you are entitled to receive a copy of the completed appraisal report from your lender. The appraiser, however, cannot furnish you a copy unless you are the client ordering the report.

To facilitate the appraisal process, it's beneficial to have these documents ready for the appraiser:

  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if readily available)
  • Information on all transfers of the property in the last three years including purchases
  • Written property agreements, such as a maintenance agreement for a shared driveway
  • List of personal property to be sold with the home
  • Title policy that describes encroachments or easements (if any)
  • Most recent real estate tax bill and or legal description of the property
  • Home inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and wells
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and upgrades, the date of their installation and their cost (for example, the addition of central air conditioning or roof repairs) and county permit confirmation (if available)
  • A copy of the current listing agreement and broker's data sheet and fully executed (signed) Purchase Agreement (Contract) if a sale is "pending".
  • Information on "Homeowners Associations" or condominium covenants and fees.
  • A list of "Proposed" improvements if the property is to be appraised "As Complete" or "Subject To."

Once your appraiser has arrived, you do not need to accompany him or her along on the entire site inspection, but you should be available to answer questions about your property and be willing to point out any home improvements or deficiencies.

Here are some other suggestions:

  • Accessibility: Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible, especially access between bushes and the house and to the basement, attic and crawl space
  • Housekeeping: Appraisers see hundreds of homes a year and will look past most clutter, but they're human beings too! A good impression can translate into a higher home value but don't worry if you don't have time to wash the dishes.
  • Maintenance: Repair minor things like leaky faucets, missing door handles and trim
  • FHA/VA Inspection Items: If your borrower is applying for an FHA/VA loan, be sure to ask your appraiser if there are specific things that should be done before they come. Some items they may recommend might be: Install smoke detectors on all levels (especially near bedrooms); install handrails on all stairways; remove peeling paint and repaint the effected area; provide inspection access to the attic and crawl space.