While it’s standard practice for real estate professionals to conduct a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to help price your home correctly for sale, you may also want to discuss with your agent the possibility of investing in an appraisal before you put your home on the market.
Appraisals have long been a part of the transaction process for home buyers, however, pre-sale appraisals for home sellers have risen in popularity as a way to help confirm that your home is listed at the best possible price.
A home appraiser will compare the condition of your house in relation to the comparable properties and will give you a reasonably good idea where your house fits in relation to recently sold properties.
An appraisal can range in length from two pages to more than 100 and will include details about the house, a description of the neighborhood and side-by-side comparisons of similar properties.
The appraisal report will also contain an evaluation of the area’s real estate market, notations of major problems with the property that will affect its value, and an estimate of the expected time it will take to sell the property. This also gives you a chance to correct problems before officially putting your house on the market—a sure-fire way to ensure a quicker sale.
Choosing the right appraiser is critical, however—whether you are selling or buying a home. Work with your agent to select an appraiser who understands the nuances of your particular neighborhood, as prices can vary significantly based on school district and street location.
The Appraisal Institute offers the following tips for consumers, providing important guidance for homeowners and buyers seeking to ensure their sales are completed in a timely manner:
- Make sure a qualified appraiser is hired (such as a designated SRA, SRPA or MAI member of the Appraisal Institute). The lowest priced appraiser does not necessarily equate with the most qualified.
- Accompany the appraiser during the inspection of the property, if possible. The more active of a participant you are in the process, the more you will understand it and be able to catch any errors.
- Request a copy of the appraisal report. Federal law requires that you receive a copy of the appraisal within 30 days.
- Appeal the appraisal if appropriate. Market conditions do change, especially in these economic times. If you feel that new information may change the appraisal, be sure to contact them.
- Have your agent ask the lender to order a second appraisal by a qualified and designated appraiser.
- File legitimate complaints with appropriate state board or professional appraisal organizations.
Remember, one doesn’t need to agree with the outcome of an appraisal. A home appraisal, no matter how scientific, still ends up being the opinion of the appraiser and, to some degree, a judgment call. However, the appraisal, when combined with your agent’s expertise on market conditions, will be a powerful way to determine the very best price for your home.