Top Tips from a Top Appraiser

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A busy appraiser sees  hundreds of houses each year.  If you are selling ‘by owner,’ it is wise to get a full appraisal so you can price your house according to the value likely to be accepted by lenders.  As long as you’re paying $400 for an appraisal, why not get the most from it?

Sharon Bagby, an Illinois certified real estate appraiser with Crystal lake Appraisal Service, Inc., offers these little-known recommendations for homeowners.

  • How much rent could I get for my house? The primary purpose of an appraisal is to determine the current market value of the house. If you think you might rent your house instead of selling it, ask the appraiser to also report on the range of market rents for comparable homes.
  • What staging should I tackle? Appraisers are experts at seeing past decorating to the condition of a home. But they are well aware of decorating that detracts from the selling points of a house.  Bagby says that very strong colors – red-painted dining room walls, for example – and loud wallpaper can be so offputting that many buyers will not be able hone in on what’s good about the house. Ask the appraiser to list the top three or five decorating or staging projects that would put the house in its best light.
  • Exactly what does your house have that neighboring houses do not…and vice versa? If you wonder how the age, brand and condition of the appliances, fixtures and systems in your house compare with houses recently sold, ask the appraiser. Why install a Wolf stove when everybody else in your neighborhood cooks on a GE Monogram?
    What features are considered premium in your neighborhood? The appraiser will know if woodburning fireplaces are considered features or drawbacks by most of your neighbors. This will help you understand what features you should emphasize or de-emphasize as you market and show the house.
  • The tax assessor might have the wrong square footage for your house. Bagby says that sometimes, lazy assessors calculate square footage by multiplying the outside dimensions of the house. But that’s not accurate. Features such as a two-story atrium subtract square footage (from the second floor).  Bay windows, porches, and other architectural features can add or subtract square footage. If there’s a major difference, note it to the new owner so he can petition for an adjusted property tax bill.