Appraisal issues can be common hangups in a real estate transaction. In June, appraisal issues were blamed for causing delays in 18% of transactions (the second highest reason behind issues related to obtaining financing) and for terminating 9% of contracts, according to the REALTORS® Confidence Index.
While appraisal issues may be unavoidable if home prices are escalating too quickly and not matching offers, homeowners can still prepare for an appraisal to help ensure their home is presented in its best possible light.
Forbes.com emphasizes three main areas of a home in preparing for an appraisal: the kitchen, bathroom, and curb appeal.
Indeed, curb appeal counts. In a new study in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, researchers found that properties with top-notch curb appeal tended to sell for 7% more than similar properties in the same area that had poor curb appeal.
“Expand your hardscape,” Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president of U.S. Lawns, told Forbes.com. “If it’s within your budget, create an additional living space outside by expanding your stone or brick patio. However, be sure to consider if the higher valuation will exceed the added investment.”
Lower-cost ways to boost curb appeal: Mulch around trees, shrubs, and plants and add pops of color, such as flower pots at the door. The key is to set the right first impression that the house is well cared for, from the outside in.
Inside, mid-range to upscale bathroom remodels tend to recoup around 60% return on investment, according to Leah Tuttleman, interior designer for Re-Bath. A bathroom redo may not be in the budget, but even simple projects can make a difference to the appearance. First off, address any caulking or other glaring problems before cosmetic issues. While appraisers won’t be judging your decor, you can show that the house is well-cared for and up-to-date. For example, update vanity lights and faucets so that they match; matte black and brass are trending. Also, Tuttleman told Forbes.com that light, neutral-colored bathrooms can help make spaces feel larger and calming. Also, a simple fix: Replace low-wattage bulbs with a higher watt LED bulb and use dimmers if possible, she suggests.
Kitchen remodels can be costly, but they can get you around 77.6% return on investment, says Lisa Seeger, design trend expert at N-Hance Wood Finishing. “Sometimes all it takes to revamp the entire kitchen is a simple cabinet color change,” Seeger told Forbes.com. “Some trending looks include all-white cabinets, black cabinetry, jewel-toned, two-toned cabinets, and gray.” Updated hardware on the cabinets and lighting can go a long way in upgrading a space too.