How to Prep For a Home Appraisal and Get the Highest Home Value Possible

How to Prep for Your Home Appraisal - A illustration of a small white woman with blue hair stands in front of a an illustration of a teal house that is made to resemble a calculator with yellow buttons on the front. The number represented on the calculator is 500,000. The image is on a reddish-coral color background.
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Gearing up for a home appraisal and not sure what to expect? We get it—the whole ordeal can be a bit nerve wracking, given that this single visit can either make a seller’s dreams come true or, well, dash them completely. Fear not, friends: We got the full scoop on how to prep for a home appraisal, so you can do all the right things in advance and secure the best possible outcome.

1. Clean and Declutter

It might seem obvious, but it’s hard to overstate the importance of presenting a clean and orderly home when the appraiser comes knocking. Ultimately, appraisers are trained to see past the clutter—but in practice, it can still be hard for an appraiser to see the full potential of the property when his or her attention is drawn to dust bunnies, piles of dirty laundry and boxes full of yard sale bargains you couldn’t resist buying but never found a permanent home for.

If cleaning house sounds like a Sisyphean undertaking, you can make the project more manageable by tackling it in three stages: First, purging, then organizing and, finally, deep cleaning. When the work is done, you’ll be rewarded with a clutter-free and squeaky clean home that will be far more appealing to appraisers and prospective buyers alike.

2. Spruce up the exterior

First impressions count for quite a lot—and they happen the moment an appraiser catches a glimpse of a home’s exterior. Dingy siding, an unkempt lawn, broken or faded house numbers and a front door that looks old and worn are just a few of the many things that can negatively impact the curb appeal of your home and, well, make a bad first impression. In fact, the experts at say that high curb appeal is a major factor when it comes to attracting buyers, too.

Fortunately, it’s usually fairly easy to fix any eyesores on the outside of your home by slapping a fresh coat of paint on your front door, springing for a new mailbox, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, replacing old patio furniture, etc. We also strongly suggest hiring a professional to power wash the exterior of your home prior to an appraisal so it looks brand new and beautiful on the big day.

3. Depersonalize your decor

Depersonalizing is one of the three D’s of staging a home for sale, and while an appraiser is not the same as a prospective buyer—the former is supposed to be objective, the latter is not—the reality is that appraisals are influenced, to some degree, by the appraiser’s subjective opinion of the home and personal taste. (They’re human, after all.)

As such, recommends putting away family photos, particularly quirky pieces of art, the dozen soccer trophies your kid has won over the years and any other distracting decorative details that have nothing to do with the value of the home. Bottomline: The best way to prepare the interior of your home for an appraisal is by making sure it’s both nice and neutral. (Psst: This applies to interior paint colors, too.)

4. Make minor repairs

One of the biggest factors that appraisers consider when determining the value of a home is its current condition, which means that your appraisal can take a significant hit if there are minor repairs that need to be made. Pay special attention to any repairs that present a safety concern (think: a wobbly banister rail on the stairs, a missing light switch plate in the foyer and smoke alarms that are missing or dysfunctional) and review the HUD guidelines so you can address any issues that might prevent your home from passing a basic inspection. Then, move on to the minor nuisances and eye sores, like leaky faucets or roofs, cracked bathroom tiles, damaged window screens and peeling paint. According to, many appraisers assess the value of a home in $500 increments, which means that a few small, inexpensive repairs can augment the appraisal considerably.

5. Modernize, as needed

The most important thing you can do to prepare for a home appraisal is to make sure that all major systems (heat, electricity, plumbing, air conditioning) are in working order and up to regulation and there are no damages to the interior that pose a safety hazard. (Hint: You can and will be required by the appraiser to fix any of these serious problems prior to sale, so you might as well get out ahead of it.) That said, small, superficial changes to the interior can boost the value of your home, too. For example, if your home is older and the light fixtures are particularly dated and yellowed, you might consider upgrading them with something generic and inexpensive, but more modern and clean.

6. Have copies of past appraisals ready

If your home was recently appraised and you’re appealing the decision, you should have copies of the previous appraisals handy to show that you’ve made the required repairs or addressed the issues that caused your home to be valued less than comparable homes.

7. Look at comps in your area

Comparison is the basis of the appraisal process, which means the value of your home is largely determined by that of nearby homes of a similar size. You can manage your expectations and learn how to ready your home for appraisal by doing a little research into comps in your area (i.e., neighboring homes that have sold in the last 3 to 6 months). This will give you a sense of the renovations other homeowners have done to increase the value of their property and how your home stacks up. That said, it’s worth noting that this doesn’t have to be an independent investigation—if you’re working with a real estate agent, you probably won’t even need to ask for a comp report because providing you with one is part of their job.

8. Have a list of home improvements ready

If you have made renovations to your home that have added to the square footage, or otherwise improved the value of the property (like by finishing an unfinished basement, replacing vinyl with hardwood flooring, or installing an HVAC system), then you should make sure the appraiser knows about it. Put together a list of such upgrades, along with documentation (work orders, receipts, invoices) that prove the work was done professionally, so you or your real estate agent can present it to the appraiser.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...