1. Meet the appraiser at the house. Homeowners can show the appraiser around, show them what upgrades have been made and what did and did not come with the home.
2. Realtors can give appraisers as may comparable sales as they have for the property. If it’s a property where there are few or no comparable sales, go out in a radius search until you find some. Go back as far as a year or even more if it’s a special type property (waterfront, for example). Realize that the appraiser may deduct value if the sale is further than 3 months, but atleast you’ll have a better chance of getting the property to appraise.
3. Call the agents of the comparable sales to get as much information as possible for the appraiser. The house that sold down the street that needed a new roof – they need to know that, but it’s probably not in the MLS information.
4. Give the appraiser a list of upgrades and improvements and include maintenance items as well as cosmetic upgrades. There is a category for “condition” on appraisals and although it won’t match dollar for dollar, it will be mentioned.
5. Be sure to note when flooring is “hardwood” instead of “wood” or “laminate.” Be specific about other surfaces (granite vs. Corian) and improvements. A glazed 42” raised-panel cabinet with full coverage costs more than Level 1 42” cabinets. Thermador appliances are more valuable than GE Profile, for instance, and an appraiser’s quick trip through the house may not take in such details.
6. Realtors can send the appraiser copies of marketing photos that include the interior, exterior and grounds.
7. Be sure to note anything about the lot – the preserve not only on the side but across the street, for instance. Note the size of the lot vs. any comparable sales (if it’s to your advantage).
8. Local appraisers probably know the community amenities, but it never hurts to also give a list of those as well. For example – pools, clubhouse, etc.
9. If there are communities nearby that are not really good comparables, a map with some notes about the lack of amenities, production starter homes vs. your community with custom homes on estate lots, etc., can be very helpful to an appraiser.
10. Realtors need not come across pushy. Homeowners are not professionals, so they can say anything they want. But the agents need to be respectful, even if you know the appraiser is from far away and has no idea what the homes in this particular neighborhood are worth.
The bottom line is this – whether you are the homeowners or the real estate agent, make the effort to be sure the appraiser is well educated about the home and you will have a much better chance of the house appraising and the sale going through. Appraisers’ work hasn’t lessened but many times their fees have been cut in half or more. So let’s all work together to get the most value for our homes.