As you prepare to sell your home, you are likely met with emotions you didn’t realize would arise, and that’s understandable. You’ve invested a lot of time and money into the home and built memories that will last forever. With this, though, it can be difficult as the homeowner to have an unbiased opinion of the home’s property value. That’s where a home appraisal comes in. Understanding the home appraisal process is crucial as a home appraisal can have a significant impact on the outcome of your real estate transaction.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about home appraisals, from what they are to how to prepare for one effectively. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned seller, this article will provide you with valuable insights to navigate the home appraisal process successfully.

What is a Home Appraisal?

What is a Home Appraisal

A home appraisal is an unbiased assessment of a property's value conducted by a licensed appraiser. It can be a lengthy process, lasting up to a few weeks from start to finish. The purpose of a home appraisal is to determine the fair market value of a property based on its condition, location, and comparable sales in the area. This value, known as the "appraised value of the home," is a critical factor in real estate transactions.

Significance of Home Appraisals

Understanding the appraisal value of a home is vital because it directly affects several aspects of the real estate process.

  1. Property Financing: Lenders use the appraised value to determine how much they are willing to loan to the buyer. This affects the down payment required and the overall terms of the mortgage.
  2. Listing Price: Sellers use appraisals to set a reasonable listing price for their property. Overpricing can deter potential buyers, while underpricing can lead to financial losses.
  3. Negotiation: The appraised value often becomes a point of negotiation between buyers and sellers. If the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price, adjustments may be necessary.

How Do Home Appraisals Work?

Once the home is under contract, the buyer will have the home appraised to assess the property value in order to secure financing. Typically, your lender will select a qualified appraiser; however, some buyers may have the option to choose their appraiser. Once an appraiser is chosen, an appointment will be scheduled. Both buyers and sellers should ensure the property is accessible for the appraisal.

What Happens During a Home Appraisal?

The appraiser visits the property and assesses its condition, size, features, and any improvements. They also research comparable properties in the area.

How Long is a Home Appraisal Good For?

A home appraisal is typically valid for up to six months. After that period, a new appraisal may be required.

Home Appraisal Costs and Factors That Affect Them

Appraisal costs vary but are usually the responsibility of the buyer. Factors influencing the cost include the property's size, location, and complexity.

Preparing Your Home for Appraisal

Preparing Your Home for Appraisal

If you are a seller, it may feel as though the appraisal process is out of your hands and controlled by a far-removed third-party; however, there are a variety of ways you can improve your property value in the weeks leading up to the appraisal.

1. Clean and Declutter: A neat and organized home appears well-maintained. Clean thoroughly and remove excess clutter. Doing so will give both your buyer and your appraiser the perception that you have treated your home with the care it needs over the years.

2. Fix Minor Repairs: Attend to any minor repairs, such as leaky faucets, chipped paint, or loose cabinet handles.

3. Enhance Curb Appeal: First impressions matter. Enhance your home's curb appeal by mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and adding some potted plants.

4. Document Home Improvements: Provide documentation of any significant home improvements or renovations you've made. This can help justify a higher appraisal value.

5. Highlight Unique Features: Point out any unique or valuable features of your property to the appraiser, such as energy-efficient upgrades or a recently renovated kitchen.

6. Be Present During the Appraisal: Being available to answer questions and provide information can be beneficial.

7. Compare Your Home: Research recent sales of similar homes in your area to get an idea of what your property might be worth, so you are not met with an unexpected number.

Common Home Appraisal Mistakes to Avoid

1. Neglecting Maintenance: Failing to address maintenance issues can lead to a lower appraisal value. Buyers like to understand the property they are investing a lot of time, energy and money into, and in some cases, homes without routine maintenance come off too risky for buyers.

2. Doing ‘DIY’ Projects: Many sellers like to do last minute ‘DIY’ fixes to the house before listing it on the market, and while these fixes may look pretty to interested buyers, appraisers can see past a faulty exterior and detect a botched renovation, which can negatively affect your home’s value. Unless you are skilled to do so, hire a professional to complete any necessary repairs or touch-ups to the house, this could increase your home’s appraised value!

3. Withholding Information: Be transparent with the appraiser, as they rely on accurate data to make a fair assessment.

If you’re planning to sell in the future, it’s wise to consider investing in routine home health, safety and maintenance inspections. With a Healthy Home Check, you can enhance the health, safety, and overall value of your home and ensure it remains a comfortable and secure place for you and your family. If you are thinking about listing your home for sale a few years down the line or even in a couple decades, now is the time to start thinking about increasing your property value and protecting your family from hazards. By proactively taking these steps, you will be well-prepared for your next home appraisal and real estate transaction.

How Long Does a Home Appraisal Take?

The duration of a home appraisal can vary depending on several factors. On average, a typical home appraisal can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. Additionally, if certain areas of the home are inaccessible or if your property is on the larger end, it may take multiple trips over multiple days or weeks for the appraiser to conclude the process.

Factors that may affect the appraisal timeline typically include the property size, complexity of the property, accessibility to required documentation, and the appraiser’s schedule. Be sure to plan accordingly if you are on a tight closing timeline.


Whether you are a buyer or a seller, it’s time to turn these steps into actions! Understanding the home appraisal process, knowing how to prepare your home, and following essential tips can help you achieve a favorable appraisal value.

Sellers, schedule your Pre-Listing Inspection to get ahead of maintenance and repairs and retain your home’s value. Always remember that transparency throughout the selling process and proper maintenance are key and seek professional guidance when needed. Now, go sell your home with confidence!