A home inspection can be highly useful during many stages of the real estate process. Selling a house requires a lot of steps, and each one should be completed correctly beforehand.

When it finally comes time for owners to list or refinance their property, they call in an appraiser. This critical aspect can make or break a sale, and a home inspection ahead of time can point out several locations around the house that may need attention, in order to get the highest possible value on the property.

Focus on the details

If a home appraiser is going to walk through a house, they are going to look at all of the little details. This means that the owners should as well. Even the smallest flaws or the missed hazard can seriously drop the valued price of the property, which means it could sit on the market for months on end. A home inspection professional can take the time to look at the entire house, and figure out what needs to be fixed before selling.

For example, New Jersey residents Jessica and Carl Doerrer's home was on the market for an extended period of time, most likely because the appraiser valued the house so much lower than their asking price, according to ABC News. They bought the property at $325,000, and six years later they were selling for only $225,000. However, the appraiser came in more than $30,000 lower than that.

Reasons for the discrepancy included poor curb appeal - the front lawn was cluttered and unkempt - messy rooms in the house itself and carpet in disrepair, the news source noted. In total, the Doerrers ended up spending $1,600 on renovations, but had the house appraised again at more than $24,000 the original estimate.

The family focused on the details in their home, and made enough changes to drastically improve the value at a relatively low cost. A property inspection could help provide direction for sellers, when looking to make the smartest changes to their houses in order to sell quickly. 

Tips to raise a home's value

A low appraisal can seriously impede a deal. If the appraiser, the bank and the sellers aren't on the same page, odds are that the buyers won't be interested either. Therefore, homeowners should make improvements to their properties before getting this step done, so the value accurately represents the house.

Each appraiser can agree that the look, feel and condition of the home matters, according to The Wall Street Journal. In order for sellers to perform well, they should start by fixing the place up. A little bit of dust and some dirty clothes on the bed won't drop the value, but more serious flaws could. A home inspection could help spot rodents, insects and other problems that could sink a sale.

Dean Zibas, president and chief appraiser for California-based Zibas Appraisal, told the news source that overgrown landscaping, soiled carpets and marks on the wall will affect the overall value of a home.

Moreover, curb appeal should be focused on, WSJ reported. The lawn should be mowed ahead of time, and weeds need to also be cut back by the sellers. Comparable homes are a major part of an appraisal, so the condition really makes a difference. All of the updates and additions to the house should be tracked and well documented, even if the current owner didn't perform them. Anything done that wasn't strictly by the book can change the appraised value.

Overall, a well-kept home is more valuable than one in disrepair. A property inspection could help sellers figure out what needs to fixed up so a home doesn't sit on the market, and the asking price is as high as possible.