11 Secrets Home Appraisers Don't Want You to Know

SAVING & SPENDING - HOME & AUTO
Reduce the stress of having your home appraised by arming yourself with knowledge.
Updated May 8, 2024
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Man Filling Real Estate Appraisal Form

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A home appraiser is a professional who studies different aspects of your home to give a fair-market appraisal of how much it is worth. 

Their feedback is crucial when it comes to your home's value. If you're looking to refinance, for instance, an appraisal can help you avoid wasting money on your monthly payment.

Before an appraiser looks at a property you want to buy or currently own, here are a few things you need to know.

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They work for the bank

Antonio/Adobe Bank building

Appraisers aren’t in a position to help you or make it easier for you to get a loan. They may not even be in your corner when deciding how much your home might be worth. 

Instead, remember when you start a home loan process that the appraiser works for the lender approving your loan and not for you. They aren't trying to help you keep more money in your wallet.

Size matters

slavun/Adobe modern house with access to the terrace

Appraisers not only take things like bedrooms and bathrooms into account but also square footage and overall lot size. And how much of your lot is taken up by the home could also be a factor in the final decision.

Remember that your appraisal may not match other homes with the same number of bedrooms if the overall size is different.

Location is important

luckybusiness/Adobe multiethnic group of people socializing while eating outdoor

There are factors that may not have been an issue for you but could be an issue when it comes to the appraisal. Living on a busy street might be something that doesn’t bother you but could affect the home’s value.

They also may factor in the neighborhood school district or crime rate. And the type of neighboring dwellings like single-family homes or apartments could be an issue as well.

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It’s not just about your house

Yury Gubin/Adobe Middle class neighborhood

One thing appraisers take into account is the homes around yours. 

Homes with similar square footage and bedrooms in the same neighborhood may give appraisers a good historical idea of how much those homes have sold for when trying to determine the cost of your house.

Pro tip: You can avoid throwing money away on things that don't matter if you make sure you understand that there are limits to how much you can help the appraisal process.

It isn’t a home inspection

Vittaya_25/Adobe inspector checking and inspecting with clipboard

Home inspectors play another role in the home-buying or refinancing process. They visit your home and look for possible issues that might need to be fixed before you list your home for sale.

Or they work for the potential buyer, making a list of house issues that might have to be addressed or negotiated before the final sale.

Remember that home inspectors are focused on issues with the house itself and not the price of the house, the cost of repairs, or how much you may be able to bump up the value of your home once the repairs are made.

Home improvements can matter

LStockStudio/Adobe Family Planning Home Renovation

Homes with dated features like out-of-style kitchens and old bathrooms could take a hit on the final appraisal. Refurbishing your home’s features to bring it up-to-date could make it more desirable and increase the appraiser’s assessment.

Be aware that a $50,000 kitchen renovation doesn’t mean you will get a $50,000 bump in your appraisal. It could increase the value of your home, but that might not equal the amount of money you invested in it in the appraiser’s eyes.

You can ask for a second opinion

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe Senior couple planning their investments with financial advisor

While it may not be binding when it comes to the final decision by the bank, you can have another appraiser come to look at the house.

Check with your real estate agent to see if they can recommend someone to give you an estimate before the bank’s appraiser comes in. 

They may be able to give you a rough estimate of what your home could be appraised for so you don’t have any surprises.

Leave them be

ronstik/Adobe real estate appraiser taking pictures of property with phone

Home inspectors may want you to follow them around so they can point out issues with your home or potential problems. Home appraisers would prefer to leave them alone.

If there are specific issues or renovations you may want them to take into consideration, consider making a list for them at the beginning of the appraisal instead. Then let them do their jobs.

Water damage might be an issue

aleksandar29/Adobe painter looking big stain on the ceiling

A small leak here or there may not be a problem. But if an appraiser notices things like severe water damage or mold, that could be a big issue.

Major water problems can cost thousands of dollars to fix, and obvious damage may reduce your appraisal when it comes to the final estimate of the home’s value.

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Factor in the fees

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A bank isn’t likely to send an appraiser to review your home for free. So when you consider all the money you have to bring to a closing, remember that the bank may charge you for the appraisal as part of the closing costs for your loan.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for ways to prepare yourself financially, consider how a downturn in the market might affect the assets you plan to use for a down payment and closing costs.

You can challenge an appraisal

Antonioguillem/Adobe confused customer calling support service at office

It might be difficult to challenge an appraisal, but it is possible. Check the appraiser’s report if you think it’s higher or lower than expected. You can keep more cash in your wallet by just making sure there are no errors.

Did they forget to include a bedroom or cost the number of bathrooms incorrectly? Did they not factor in things that you think should be included?

These may be grounds for a challenge. Nevertheless, it could be difficult to get a decision in your favor when you make that challenge.

Bottom line

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe couple with arms above after buying house

Buying a new home or refinancing your current home is a stressful endeavor, especially if you're looking for ways to stop living paycheck to paycheck

But it could make the process easier if you understand what the appraiser factors into their decision.

Talk to your real estate agent or lender if you have any questions during the loan process, including the appraisal of your home.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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