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What Do Appraisers Look For When You’re Refinancing? 

 July 14, 2021

By Scott Teesdale  

minutes read time

When a homeowner begins the refinance process, the bank or lender will usually send an appraiser to the home to determine its current value. The home’s appraised value helps the lender know how much they can safely lend out since they want to ensure a healthy loan-to-value after the refinance loan is processed. Knowing what appraisers look for during a refinance can help you increase the final appraisal value of your home, and hopefully increase the loan amount that your lender provides during your refinance.

Factors appraisers look for a refinance

During an appraisal while you’re refinancing, an appraiser looks at the physical condition of your home and also the value of comparable properties in the area. Appraisers will look for visual clutter, damages, landscaping, odors, drainage issues, and more. Knowing the factors that affect a home’s appraisal is a big learning step for any homeowner who is about to refinance. Those factors include:

  • Damages
  • Clutter
  • Odors
  • Home systems
  • Drainage
  • Paint

Damages

This might seem like an obvious one, but the first thing appraisers will assess is any damages in your home. This can range from anything small to large. Holes in walls, leaky roofs, and stains in the carpet are all things appraisers will be keeping a keen eye out for when they walk through your house. 

The reason why damages are high on the priority list for appraisers during a refinance is because it helps them tell the story of the condition of your home while also calculating how much value your house is missing due to damages. If a buyer was to purchase your home with these damages then they would be the one who would have to pay for the repairs. 

This is why focusing on damages first will help you raise the value of your home significantly. Plastering holes in walls, replacing carpet, and doing repairs on your roof when needed are a few of the things you can focus on to help your appraisal value.

Clutter

Another easy thing to spot for an appraiser will be any visual clutter in your home. This can range from junk lying around your home to dirt. Even though these things can be easily cleaned by the next owners of your home, they are factored into the current condition of your home that the appraiser is determining. The more organized your entire home is, the higher value your appraisal could be.

Note that some would argue that most appraisers don’t care about clutter and will ignore it. While sometimes true, there is always subconscious bias. Think about it: the appraiser is on your property to check the condition of your home. If they see clutter everywhere, what conclusions will they make about how you treat your home? Do you want them to assume the worst or the best? We recommend cleaning up the clutter to ensure a best case scenario.

One easy way to eliminate the clutter in your home is by regularly cleaning your home. Eliminate hoarding items at all costs and make sure your home is visually free of clutter. Depending on if you have always regularly cleaned your home, this might be easier for some people than it is for others. A vacuum cleaner and a broom go a long way in raising the appraisal value of your home when refinancing. 

Odors

No one likes to walk into a home and experience an unpleasant odor smack them in the face. The same goes for your appraiser during a refinance. Eliminating unpleasant odors can not only raise the value of your home but it’ll also be one less thing to think about as your appraisal walks through your home.

Odors can come from a variety of places but the most common places are from sewage, bathrooms, and garbage. Making sure you regularly check and clean these areas of your home can help you eliminate unwanted odors.  

Home systems

Making sure all of your home systems are in good working order is another great way to help ensure a higher appraisal value. Appraisers want to look at HVAC systems, AC units, security systems, electrical, and plumbing. They will want to turn them on and off, set them, and generally just make sure they work. 

What you can do to make sure all of your home systems add value to your home during a refinance is make sure anything that is visible is working. If you have a security system, make sure it’s operating. The same goes for your HVAC systems, AC units, and any other home systems. Anything the appraiser sees and can assess needs to be operable so they can add value to your home and the appraiser can conclude that the condition of your home is in good shape. 

Drainage

Drainage is important during an appraisal for a variety of reasons. For one, it’s a major area where a lot of foul odors come from. Another reason is because it’s something that can cause a lot of problems financially if it’s not properly taken care of. If a drain is clogged then it might be a bigger problem than you think. The clog could be near the surface of the drain or have to deal with the pipes of the home. If it’s the pipes then it will end up costing much more than if it’s a simple clog removal near the entrance of the drain.

The appraiser will check your drains and will make sure water flows smoothly down the shower, sinks, and toilets. If you are having drainage issues then it’s best to hire a plumber and get the plumbing problem taken care of before it gets any worse. 

In general, your bathroom will be closely analyzed during an appraisal. You’ll want to fix up your bathroom the best way you can for a higher appraisal value. Better to spend $500 now instead of $5,000 in a few years from now. 

Paint

It might not seem as important as the other areas of a home appraisers look at but the paint on a home is just as important when appraisers determine the value and condition of a home. This applies to the paint jobs on both the inside and outside of a home. 

If you have paint on the exterior of your home then it’s important to understand how this affects the value of your house. Missing paint spots, bad paint jobs, or even a poor choice of color on the outside can reduce the value of a home in the eyes of the appraiser. 

Additionally, on the inside of a home the paint job on the walls will also help determine how the appraiser views its value. Poorly painted walls, bubbling, and damaged paint can lead to a reduced value from your appraiser. 

The best way to go about this is by hiring a great paint crew before your appraisal. For either the interior or exterior of your home, the paint crew will be able to do a professional paint job and you won’t have to worry about bubbling or damages.

Appraisers look for condition and value when refinancing 

The bottom line is appraisers look at different areas of your home that could add or reduce value and affect the overall condition of the home. From paint jobs to and home systems, they will analyze all of these things and make a conclusion about how much they think your home is worth. They will then go back and report their findings to the bank or lender. You can increase the appraisal value of your home by focusing on the previously mentioned areas and making sure you keep up with your home. Also, if you’ve recently done work on your home then it’s always a benefit to mention that to your appraiser so they can take it into consideration.

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I use data and technology to help Millennials navigate the ins-and-outs of buying or selling a home in today's market. From appraisals to mortgages to zoning, I cover it all with the goal to teach others. Connect with me on social via the icons above.

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