What Will My Home Appraise For? Here’s How to Check Your Home’s Value (2023)

If you’re thinking about selling your house, you’re probably wondering — what will my house appraise for? Your home’s value determines how much you could net when you sell it, and thus, how much you have to put down on the next place.

Even if you’re not thinking of selling in the next few months, there are other reasons you might want to keep an eye on how much your home is worth. It can impact tax and estate planning, decisions about remodeling, and more. If you’re curious about your home’s worth, here are some tips on getting an initial home price estimate, and then how to narrow it down.

Why is it important to know my home’s value?

For many homeowners, knowing their home’s worth impacts a wide range of life-navigating decisions.

“For one, they want to make sure they get the proceeds they want if there’s an offer that’s put on the house,” says John Swartz, a top agent in Williamstown, Pennsylvania, who sells properties 62% faster than other agents in his area. But potential profit is just one of many important reasons to find out your home’s value.

What Will My Home Appraise For? Here’s How to Check Your Home’s Value (1)

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Here are some common reasons you might want to know your home’s value:

Determining an asking price

How much you could get for your home will likely impact your decision to sell. If you’ve been on the fence about selling, but the appraisal comes back and you realize you’ll make a large profit, it could help you hop off the fence and into the market.

It will also help guide your asking price and target resale value. The asking price sets your budget to purchase a new house. Any gains from your sale, combined with savings, helps determine your home shopping budget for the next house. With a $50,000 gain on the sale in your pocket, for example, that larger home with a swimming pool or three-car garage could now be within your reach.

The asking price also can determine how quickly your home sells. Tom Cullen, a licensed real estate appraiser certified by the National Appraisal Institute, and he has been appraising homes for more than 30 years, points out that today’s buyers are savvy. “A property priced too low will sell too fast and you will leave money on the table,” he says. “A property priced too high will sit for an extended period of time with little to no activity, and you may miss your window of opportunity to sell.”

(Video) How to Determine Property Value | Home Valuation Like a Pro

Providing insight on whether to make repairs or updates

Knowing your home’s value could impact remodeling decisions. If your home is already at the top of the market for your area, you might not want to put more money into it. Or, if painting the interior would only cost $5,000 but could increase your home’s value by $15,000, you might decide to have this or other repairs done before listing for sale.

In his market, Swartz says that “People have been taking the time to upgrade their house before they sell it because they can see the value in the comps.”

Comps, also called comparables, are recently-sold homes in your market that are similar to your home in size, condition, location, and features. This is the method that real estate agents use to deliver the most accurate pricing recommendations to their clients.

Determining your borrowing power

It’s time for a kitchen remodel, but you don’t have the cash to pay for it out of pocket. Home equity loans are a great tool that many homeowners use to fund larger remodeling projects. But before you apply for one, you need to know how much equity you have in your home.

A home appraisal tells you how much equity is in your home as measured by the difference between your current mortgage balance and your home’s value. If you’ve lived there several years, the combination of paying down the mortgage and market appreciation could have raised its value enough to afford that new kitchen.

Clarifying investment value

For many American families, their home is often their largest financial asset. Home equity remains a primary driver to build wealth, and some families count on that equity to fund part of their retirement. If you plan on cashing out equity, or selling, in retirement, and want to know if you’re on track, a home appraisal would give you that information.

Estimating tax

Homeownership has tax implications — from the mortgage interest deduction to capital gains tax. Selling a home less than two years after the purchase date could lead to owing capital gains taxes. Perhaps taking out a home equity loan to fund a remodel would help you come tax time, since you can typically deduct the interest paid.

Knowing your home’s appraised value could be helpful when tax planning.

Assisting with arranging homeowners insurance

If you have a mortgage on your house, the lender requires you to carry homeowners insurance. Even if your home is paid in full, homeowners insurance protects your investment. But how much should you carry?

Homeowners insurance policies can cover the full replacement value — the cost to rebuild from the ground up — or the actual cash value — your home’s value less depreciation. Having your home appraised could help your insurance agent determine the amount of coverage you need.

Estate planning

Whether you’re writing a will or putting your home into a trust, knowing its appraised value helps with estate planning. If one of your children wants the home, but another would prefer a different asset, having a dollar figure for the home’s value can help you balance the distribution of your estate’s assets fairly.

Helping with divorce settlements

When you’re getting a divorce and dividing up assets, you’ll need to know your home’s value. One partner might want to buy out the other partner and keep the home.

The home’s current value determines how much each person is entitled to from the house. It also could help them decide if they want to sell and split the gain on sale, or if one person wants to buy out the other person’s interest in the house. They can do this through paying cash, or taking out a home equity loan.

Use online value estimator tools to get an estimate

Today’s array of online home price valuation tools make it easy to get a quick ballpark figure of your home’s worth. Simply input a few details about your home, push a button, and the website provides an estimation of value.

With HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator you can get a real-world home value estimate in less than two minutes. Our online tool pulls information from multiple sources to create a real-time home value estimate based on current market trends. Other online tools build their estimates off historical data, which can lag the market.

(Video) How to MAXIMIZE your Appraisal - Home Appraisal Tips

The algorithms driving these estimators can’t always measure every little detail that impacts your property’s worth. The results could be skewed by incomplete data or fail to account for factors like your home’s positioning on a busy street or its closed-off layout, ultimately providing you with an inflated estimate. There is significant added value in an experienced, local real estate agent’s knowledge of pricing a home as well.

What online home value estimators can’t do

Like all tools, online home value estimators have their limits. They could have incomplete data, or data that lags the market. But they also can’t account for differences in homes that impact their values which can’t be measured by raw numbers.

Cullen points out that these tools, “aren’t taking factors into account such as quality, condition, and a mixture of property types.” He appraises homes in New England, where the same neighborhood can have a large mixture of property types.

“We may have a colonial style home, next to a ranch style home, a clam shack down the street and also some commercial influence mixed in,” he says. Each of them would have a different value, but an online tool may treat them all the same.

Some other examples of factors that impact a home’s value but an online tool can’t see include:

  • A home’s positioning on a busy street
  • A home’s location near public transportation
  • Its closed-off layout
  • Recent upgrades or improvements — like a new kitchen, roof, or bathroom
  • Major changes in the community
  • New amenities being built nearby — a swimming pool or new school
  • Large employers that recently announced coming to the area

Online home estimates can give you a great starting point. And if you know your home is standard for the area, their estimate could be extremely accurate.

All floor plans aren’t equal. Two and a half bathrooms could mean that there is only one bathroom upstairs for four bedrooms. The truth is the floor plan and the function of the home is a very big part of an appraisal, and there is an adjustment for that.

Fine tune your estimate with a comparative market analysis

Before you first meet, your agent will prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA). When putting together this report, the agent evaluates nearby recently sold properties (aka “comps”) that are similar to your own house in size, age, and characteristics to determine your home’s value. It’s the closest thing you can do to mimic the home appraisal process without being a professional licensed appraiser.

It’s also helpful to have them walk through your home and tweak their estimate after they’ve seen it first hand. “All floor plans aren’t equal,” said Julie Kaczor, a top-selling agent in Naperville, Illinois. “Two and a half bathrooms could mean that there is only one bathroom upstairs for four bedrooms. The truth is the floor plan and the function of the home is a very big part of an appraisal, and there is an adjustment for that.”

Once they’ve pulled comps and seen your home, the agent could adjust your CMA. It will tell you:

  • How your home stacks up against recently sold homes in your area – the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, garage or other amenities
  • What homes in your area have sold for recently – with adjustments for differences in size and other features
  • If sold homes had updates or other factors that indicated they might be worth more or less than your home
  • How quickly homes have been selling in your area
  • If homes are selling for above or below list price

The CMA won’t just help you set your home’s list price, it’ll give you a rough idea of how the home sale process might go — everything from potential interest in your home to how quickly it could sell.

Factor in your home improvements and upgrades

An appraiser will factor home improvements and upgrades into your home’s appraised value, so you should, too. Provide your agent with a list of improvements, or point them out when they see your home for the first time. But don’t expect to see a dollar-for-dollar return on investment.

While James Gargano, an appraiser who has been in the business for 35 years says that, “Bathrooms and kitchens, if done well, will always help a house sell and achieve profitability (or return),” other home improvements might not put the same amount of money back in your pocket.

(Video) Interview with an Appraiser: The Subjective Side of Determining a Home's Value (Part 2)

According to a 2022 survey by the National Association of Realtors, here’s the cost recovery you might see from common upgrades:

  • Refinishing hardwood floors – 147%
  • Upgrading insulation – 100%
  • Converting basement to living area – 86%
  • Bathroom renovation – 71%
  • Kitchen upgrade – 67%
  • New roofing – 100%
  • New garage door – 100%
  • New vinyl siding – 82%

The value you’ll really get from an upgrade can depend on your area’s climate — a new air conditioning unit matters more in hot climates — and the beginning age and condition of what you’re replacing or sprucing up.

If you’re unsure of the value a repair will add to your home, you can get an appraisal from someone with their finger on the pulse of the market. “Appraisers can, and we often do cost benefit analysis, which is an analysis of your proposed improvements and the likely yield associated with the completion of those improvements,” says Cullen.

Order a pre-listing appraisal

If you have a unique property, or a limited number of comps, consider getting a pre-listing appraisal. Independent appraisers will evaluate your property — for an average fee of $300 to $450. How much you’ll pay depends on the property’s size, number of bedrooms and baths, and other unique features.

Cullen says that pre-listing appraisals have become more common in his business. Fees range from $500 and scale up, depending on the complexity of the appraisal. “Complex properties (multiple buildings on one site, waterfront, extra lots of land) represent the higher end of the fee structure,” he explains.

While Swartz doesn’t commonly suggest a pre-appraisal, he will in rural areas where one property could have 50 acres but the property next door has 2-3 acres. “In that case, I might ask the seller to get an appraisal upfront to give us a guideline to go for, see how the appraiser would adjust for those differences,” he says.

A pre-listing appraisal could help set a pricing strategy, and justify that price to buyers worried about getting a loan on a unique property.

What to do before the appraiser arrives

Let’s be honest, a clean house will make a better first impression on anyone — and that includes an appraiser.

“When I drive up, I can tell right away if someone takes care of their house or not,” says Gargano. “It’s just that feeling that you get.” If you want to make sure your home appraises for top dollar, take the time to prep for the appraiser’s arrival and do any of all of the following:

  • Clear away clutter
  • Tidy up the house inside and out
  • Make sure your property is accessible
  • Put together a home fact sheet with your agent
  • Make minor repairs
  • Secure any pets
  • Plan to be away yourself, or be patient and don’t rush the appraiser

My appraisal came in low, now what?

If the bank appraisal comes in lower than the buyer’s offer price, don’t panic. Try one of these options:

  • Look for errors in the home appraisal report.
    Request a copy of the appraisal report — as the seller, you won’t get it automatically. The lender or buyer may be willing to provide it to you, particularly if it came in low. Look for errors — did the appraiser forget the garage? Is the square footage incorrect? — that you can challenge.
  • Challenge the appraisal with a Reconsideration of Value.
    Work with your agent on the appeals procedure. Call out issues such as poor analysis of comparable properties or square feet miscalculations.
  • Negotiate with the buyer without getting a new appraisal.
    You can lower your price to the appraised value or ask the buyer to make up the difference. Or, you can compromise by meeting in the middle.
  • Request another appraisal.
    Ask the lender to have another appraisal done, or bring in an independent appraiser. However, you’ll likely have to pay for it yourself and you have no assurance it will come in higher.
  • Reduce your asking price.
    If the home sale falls through due to an appraisal you can expect other buyers to have the same issue. Keeping your asking price the same would force you to wait for a buyer who has the cash — and the willingness — to make up the difference. Consider reducing your asking price.

You can start now. Find your ballpark estimate and a top agent near you

HomeLight’s tools take a lot of the guesswork out of selling a house.

Whether you’re trying to decide if it’s time to sell, or know that you need more space, it’s easy to get started with HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator.

Once you’re ready to sell, HomeLight’s Top Agent Match tool will match you with the best top-rated real estate agents in your area who will have the connections, experience, and insights to help determine your home’s estimated value and set the best listing price.

Header Image Source: (Kara Eads/ Unsplash)

FAQs

What adds the most value to a home appraisal? ›

How to Increase Home Value for Appraisal
  • Improve your house's curb appeal. ...
  • Mow and clean up your yard. ...
  • Examine the exterior of your home. ...
  • Document all of your home upgrades. ...
  • Give your home a deep cleaning. ...
  • Patch up any imperfections. ...
  • Let the appraiser do their job. ...
  • Be open to the appraiser's questions.

What hurts a home appraisal the most? ›

10 issues that can hurt a home appraisal
  • Poor maintenance. ...
  • Structural damage. ...
  • Over-personalization. ...
  • Fewer bedrooms and bathrooms. ...
  • Excess clutter and mess. ...
  • An outdated HVAC system. ...
  • Lack of Curb appeal. ...
  • Location.

What is the most accurate home value estimator? ›

The most accurate home value estimator is Redfin as it uses historical pricing data and also considers real-time demand and market trends. Redfin estimates are more accurate than Zillow and the interface is intuitive making it easy to find exactly what you're looking for.

How do I know what my house is worth? ›

In this guide:
  1. Find houses that sold near you.
  2. Look at price trends by your area and nationally.
  3. Use a house value calculator.
  4. Get an estate agent to value your house.
  5. Look at local asking prices.
  6. Consider what influences your house value.
8 Jun 2022

What things hurt a home appraisal? ›

What Affects Home Appraisal?
  • Location of home.
  • Size of land.
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Square footage.
  • Year built.
  • Curb appeal.
  • Major systems and home appliances.
  • Condition of home and systems.
15 Aug 2022

Does cleanliness affect a home appraisal? ›

The short answer is “no, a messy home should not affect the outcome of an appraisal.” However, it's good to be aware that there are circumstances in which the state of your home can negatively affect its value. Let's go over what appraisals entail and what factors can influence them.

What should you not say to a home appraiser? ›

Just keep your communication to the appraiser about the facts of the home and neighborhood, how you priced the house, and any other relevant information you think the appraiser should know. And remember, don't discuss value. Don't pressure the appraiser to 'hit the value' and you'll be fine.

What should you not do during an appraisal? ›

Here are some common mistakes that managers make in the appraisal process and what you can do to avoid them.
  • Over-generous evaluations. ...
  • Focussing on most recent performance. ...
  • Obsessing about quantifiable data. ...
  • Lack of focus on performance. ...
  • Treating appraisals as negotiations.
11 Sept 2014

How do I prepare my house for an appraisal? ›

8 Ways to Prepare for a Home Appraisal
  1. Get an early appraisal. ...
  2. Take care of quick fixes. ...
  3. Boost your curb appeal. ...
  4. Give your home a deep clean. ...
  5. Take a look at the comps. ...
  6. Check that everything is working properly. ...
  7. Go green. ...
  8. Talk up your home.
28 Mar 2018

Are Zillow estimates 2022 accurate? ›

Zillow's Zestimate has been found to have a nationwide error rate of 1.9 percent for on-market homes. When it comes to estimating home values for off-market housing, the error rate jumps to 6.9 percent. Overall, the accuracy of Zestimate is approximately 4 to 5 percent.

Is realtor or Zillow more accurate for home value? ›

The Zestimate is often less accurate than your Realtor's estimate and can be thousands of dollars off. According to Zillow's Zestimate page, “The nationwide median error rate for the Zestimate for on-market homes is 1.9%, while the Zestimate for off-market homes has a median error rate of 7.5%.

Is a Zillow estimate as good as an appraisal? ›

A Zestimate should not be considered an appraisal. In fact, a comparable market analysis from a local real estate agent and a professional appraisal of the home are the best ways to learn its value.

How can I get my house valued without selling? ›

' Try two or three estate agents to get an average idea of price, be choosy and there's no harm in doing your own research before letting them through the door. And be honest – tell them that you're not looking to sell.

How do I impress an appraiser? ›

How to impress at appraisals
  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. We cannot emphasise this enough. ...
  2. Learn to listen. Often employees go into their appraisal with a list of things they want to say, but it is equally important to listen to what your appraiser is saying. ...
  3. Stay professional. ...
  4. Mind your body language. ...
  5. Collect testimonials.

Do appraisers turn on faucets? ›

Water pressure must be adequate for the house. Appraisers flush toilets, turn on all faucets and ensure that both hot and cold water are working.

Should you walk around with the appraiser? ›

“In general, it's nice to have somebody there as long as they don't interfere with the process,” said Graham. “Be there to answer questions and provide necessary access, but just know when to keep your distance and let the appraiser do their work.”

What should you clean before an appraisal? ›

In the kitchen: Clear clutter off your countertops to make your kitchen look larger. Store appliances in cabinets, and make sure dishes are clean and put away on the day of your appraisal. You may also want to consider touching up backsplashes, paint or wallpaper if needed.

What does an appraiser look at inside the home? ›

While conducting the appraisal, the appraiser will take pictures of all rooms in the home, the garage, and the outside of the home. They will also measure the home and examine its overall condition, upgrades, amenities, and any other aspects of the home of note.

Do appraisers check inside closets? ›

Do Appraisers Look in Closets? The short answer is yes, they will look in your closet… but only to determine the total living area. So while a clean, organized closet is a sign of respect for the appraiser (and a lot more pleasant to look at), a messy closet won't negatively affect home value.

How do you stay calm during an appraisal? ›

If you're prone to performance review anxiety, too, try these strategies for keeping calm.
  1. Get the Scoop (and Get Prepared) If you're anything like me, you probably panic most when you don't know what to expect in a given scenario. ...
  2. Remember That Feedback Is a Good Thing. ...
  3. Pump Yourself Up. ...
  4. Eliminate Surprises.
19 Jun 2020

Does yard affect appraisal? ›

The curb appeal and general landscaping of the home also impacts the home appraisal value. If your home lacks curb appeal it could lower the value of the home. On the other hand if your yard is filled with hard to care for plants and a hazardous dead tree this could also negatively affect your home appraisal value.

What matters most in an appraisal? ›

The appraiser will consider all factors that could affect the property's value. These factors include the condition of the property, any upgrades or additions made to the property, the size of the lot and “comps” or recently sold properties of comparable size and condition in the same market.

What are two of the common problems with appraisals? ›

The 9 most common errors in performance appraisal
  • Partiality. ...
  • Stereotyping. ...
  • Halo effect. ...
  • Distribution errors. ...
  • Similarity errors. ...
  • Proximity errors. ...
  • Recency error. ...
  • Compare/contrast error.

Do appraisers always go inside the house? ›

An appraiser visits your home for about 30 minutes to a few hours to measure its dimensions, examine amenities, and evaluate the overall condition both inside and out, taking photos of the exterior, the garage, and every interior room.

Who is more accurate Zillow or Redfin? ›

Redfin's home value estimator is more accurate than Zillow's when it comes to pinpointing the sales price. According to Redfin, its estimates are approximately 74% accurate within 5% of the sales price for listed homes. By comparison, Zillow is only 67% accurate within 5% of the sale price for listed homes.

Is Zillow offer close to zestimate? ›

In February 2021, Zillow began using the Zestimate as a starting point for their cash offer through Zillow Offers. But the final offer was likely to be lower than the Zestimate after taxes, fees, and information from the home inspection was taken into account.

Why is my home value so low on Zillow? ›

If your home has more value-factors (bigger square footage, better condition, more amenities, etc) than the comparables that are pulled, then your Zestimate is likely to be lower than actual value. Take a look at the comparables selected.

Is Zillow higher or lower than appraisal? ›

A Zestimate is our free estimated value for an individual home, computed multiple times per week based on millions of data points. It is not an appraisal, but it does provide a ballpark range for your home's value.

What makes home value go up on Zillow? ›

Claim your property

Your home's “Zestimate” is Zillow's best guess on market value. It's computed through a formula the site uses, which factors in public and private data. Thus, the fastest way to make Zillow's market value more accurate is to sign in and update facts about your home.

How does Zillow determine the value of a home? ›

The Zestimate is calculated through a Zillow algorithm that crunches data from public property records, tax records, recent home sales in the area, and user-submitted information to come up with an approximate market value for a home.

How close are home appraisals to Zillow? ›

The tool has an accuracy of about 80% in all areas. This is because there are no specific variances to throw it off. However, in some home value estimate cases (especially in older neighborhoods), the Zillow estimate won't be close at all.

Do appraisers look at zestimate? ›

House appraisers also do not look at the Zillow value of your home either!

Do I want my house to appraise high or low? ›

When an appraisal comes in high it can indicate a rather robust real estate market and when it comes in low it can indicate a faltering one. Either way, the lower of the two values is used when processing a new loan application. Again, lower or higher values are the exception in most markets and not the rule.

What makes a house less valuable? ›

Your property value is often out of your control. Changes in the real estate market can lower the value of your home. Natural disasters and climate change can lower your property value because the property is a greater risk to purchase. Foreclosures in your neighborhood can also drive down property value.

What makes a home unsellable? ›

Factors that make a home unsellable "are the ones that cannot be changed: location, low ceilings, difficult floor plan that cannot be easily modified, poor architecture," Robin Kencel of The Robin Kencel Group at Compass in Connecticut, who sells homes between $500,000 and $28 million, told Business Insider.

What upgrades to tell appraiser? ›

5. Keep a List of Repairs and Upgrades
  • Loose Floor Boards.
  • Leaky Roof.
  • Functioning Door Bell.
  • Rain Gutters.
  • Replace Bathroom Caulk.
  • Dripping Pipe or Faucet.
4 Jan 2018

What renovations increase appraisal value? ›

Replacing outdated carpet or upgrading to hardwood. New paint inside and outside the house. Replacing the front door. Adding a deck (increases exterior square footage)

What should I fix in my house before an appraisal? ›

Things like broken doors, non-functional locks, faulty light switches, leaky faucets, and other minor issues are cheap enough to repair and will help you avoid lost value and increased scrutiny on the part of the appraiser.

Do appliances increase appraisal? ›

An appraiser notes the condition and quality of appliances. For example, just as non-functional appliances can take a toll on the appraisal if the appraiser knows about them, upgraded items and energy-efficient appliances may boost the appraisal. Primarily, it's about the perceived value of the home, Miller explains.

What adds the most value to a home 2022? ›

Below are ten home improvement projects with the highest return on investment in 2022.
  • Landscaping. Curb appeal says a lot about your home. ...
  • Updated Kitchen Appliances. ...
  • New Front Door. ...
  • Windows. ...
  • Flooring. ...
  • Bathroom Remodel. ...
  • A Fresh Coat of Paint. ...
  • Garage Door Replacements.
10 Feb 2022

What upgrades do not increase home value? ›

However, not all of these home improvements will add financial value back to the home.
...
  • 6 House Improvements To Avoid. ...
  • A Swimming Pool Or Hot Tub. ...
  • Elaborate Professional Landscaping. ...
  • Garage Conversion. ...
  • Unique Wallpaper. ...
  • Sunrooms. ...
  • Bedroom Conversion. ...
  • 4 Renovation Projects To Increase Home Value.
12 Sept 2022

How much does a bathroom remodel increase home value 2022? ›

In 2022, the study reports, the average full bathroom remodel costs $26,574, for which homeowners can expect a return on investment upon resale of roughly 60 percent — about $15,944. In all 50 states, an average bathroom makeover increased a home's resale value by more than enough to pay for the renovation.

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