How to Increase Your Home’s Appraisal Value

Quick Answer

Options to maximize your home’s appraisal value can include bolstering the property's curb appeal, documenting home upgrades, making minor repairs, deep cleaning the home and doing your own comparison analysis. It's also important to accept what you can't control.

Two men discussing home appraisal.

Whether you're selling your home, petitioning your lender to drop private mortgage insurance or applying for a refinance or other financing dependent on your home's value, an appraisal is often required.

Appraisers consider a variety of factors when determining the value of your home. While there are some elements you can't control, such as the values of the homes in surrounding neighborhoods, there are some that you can have a little sway.

Here are six things you can do to make your home more appealing and potentially increase its appraisal value.

1. Focus on Curb Appeal

Curb appeal indicates the general attractiveness of your property from the sidewalk. Making a good first impression with your home's curb appeal can generate more interest from prospective buyers, thereby increasing the property's value.

Some of the steps you can take to improve your home's curb appeal include:

  • Painting the exterior of the home
  • Pruning trees
  • Mowing and raking the lawn
  • Planting flowers
  • Weeding the flower garden
  • Resealing minor cracks in the driveway
  • Upgrading your light fixtures
  • Adding window boxes
  • Adding a railing to the front porch

If you have a non-attached structure on the property, such as a shed, it can add some value to the home. But adding one for the sake of boosting curb appeal typically won't give you enough value boost to make the cost worthwhile.

2. Document Home Upgrades

If you've made some upgrades to your home in the time you've lived in it, gather your receipts or other documentation for the appraiser. Even if it's as simple as a recent appliance replacement, such as a dishwasher or water heater, that can add value to the home because it can help reduce short-term costs for the buyer.

Kitchen and bathroom remodels, a garage door replacement and a finished basement tend to have the best return on investment, while customized or luxury upgrades usually add less value compared to their cost.

You may also consider making some last-minute minor upgrades, such as a fresh coat of paint on the walls or new kitchen or bathroom hardware, which aren't costly but can help your case for a higher value.

3. Make Minor Repairs

If your home has some minor issues, consider whether it makes sense to fix them prior to the appraisal. For example, you may want to fix a leaky faucet, clean out and repair the gutters, spackle and paint over small holes from photos and other wall decor and more.

If the home has sustained water damage or has a mold problem, make those a priority.

If you have plans to sell the home, you may want to make minor repairs anyway, but doing them before the appraisal can potentially help you avoid negative marks.

4. Deep Clean the Home

An appraiser's job is to value your home based on how it would be for a new buyer, so a cluttered or slightly dirty home shouldn't impact your appraisal.

But as with curb appeal and small repairs, the reason for cleaning your home before an appraisal is to make the home look as appealing and inviting as possible. This is especially true if your home hasn't been cleaned or decluttered in several months.

You can clean your home on your own or hire a cleaning crew for a few hundred dollars.

5. Do Your Own Comparative Analysis

In addition to evaluating your home, appraisers will look at comparable homes in your area that have recently sold—often called comps for short. If the appraisal comes in lower than expected, review the comps the appraiser used to help determine the value.

If the homes have significant differences in square footage, age, condition or makeup—for example, you've finished your basement, and one of the comps has an unfinished basement—you may consider doing your own comparative analysis and dispute the appraiser's assessment.

6. Accept What You Can't Control

There are several things you can do to boost your home's appraisal value, but it's important to identify and accept what's outside of your circle of control. In particular, here are some factors that could impact your appraisal value that you likely can't change:

  • The home's location
  • The home's construction quality and age
  • Outdated systems that would be prohibitively expensive to update
  • The dimensions and layout of the home
  • The state of the local housing market

The Bottom Line

A home appraisal can have a significant impact on your ability to sell your home, remove mortgage insurance from your loan or obtain another primary or secondary home loan on the property.

As a result, it's important to take steps to make a good impression for the appraisal. Start the process early to avoid making hasty last-minute decisions and carefully consider the cost and potential benefits of the potential repairs or improvements.