Here is a list of what home appraisers look for

Asier Romero /

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Point2.

A home appraisal is an essential part of buying or selling a property and even applying for refinancing.

But what are the evaluators really looking for when they visit?

In this guide, we’ll cover the main items on an appraiser’s checklist and how they can affect a property’s value.

The Real Estate Appraiser’s Checklist

Senior woman using checklist and clipboard
Roman Samborskyi /

Generally speaking, a home appraiser will check the size, function and condition of the property.

On top of that, they will also consider home amenities and improvements, as well as things that aren’t about the property itself, like the local market. Here are the main items on their list.

Outside the property

Fort Wayne Texas Houses
Trong Nguyen /

This is what an appraiser looks on the outside:

  • Age and size of property
  • The condition of the property in relation to neighboring properties
  • The condition of the foundations, windows and exterior walls
  • The age and condition of the roof, as well as gutters and downspouts
  • The driveway and off-street parking
  • The garage and the number of cars it can hold
  • Landscaping and its maintenance
  • Accessory dwelling units such as a separate guest house on the premises of the property
  • Outdoor amenities such as a swimming pool, patio or porch, or an outdoor fireplace
  • Signs of pests and water damage
  • HVAC unit
  • Septic tank versus sewer
  • Solar panels and outdoor energy upgrades
  • Types of utilities used (gas, electricity, water) and whether they are connected to a utility provider

Inside the property

Accessible house with wide hallways
Det-anan /

Here’s what an appraiser looks inside:

  • The property layout, floor plan and gross building area
  • Number of rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms
  • Device types
  • Chimneys
  • Types of materials used for the floor, walls and woodwork, and the condition they are in
  • The style of the house and whether the decor is new or dated
  • Home improvements and renovations
  • Signs of pest infestations, water damage and mold
  • The condition of the attic and basement and if there is a sump pump in the basement

Beyond property boundaries

House in Southampton Village, Long Island
Leonardo Zhukovsky /

Here are some other factors an appraiser considers:

  • Location: rural, urban or suburban
  • Zoning and whether the use of the property complies with local laws
  • The condition of neighboring properties, streets and alleys
  • If the property is in a flood zone and how likely is it to be affected by natural disasters
  • Proximity to sites such as landfills or power plants, amenities such as schools and stores, and highways and airports
  • Local market conditions, such as the number of properties sold in the area and rising or falling prices

Special Considerations for VA, USDA, and FHA Loans

SpeedKingz /

If the home purchase loan is guaranteed by a government agency, an appraiser will also check that the property complies with health and safety regulations.

For example, they will check that the roof, foundation, crawl spaces, appliances, electrical and heaters are working and in good condition.

In addition to this, they can also check that all rooms have easy access to the outside for fire safety reasons, if lead paint is present, and even if the stairs have a handrail.

What can affect a home valuation?

Mike Focus /

All items on an appraiser’s list will affect the appraised value, for better or for worse.

Things that can increase the appraised value

As a general rule, all structural elements and amenities that are functional and in good condition will increase the value of your home.

Appraisers will also award points for home improvements that add value to the property, such as recent renovations, energy-efficient appliances or landscaping.

Materials used are also considered, with hardwood flooring and granite countertops being ranked higher than laminate alternatives. Cleanliness won’t affect the value of the home, but it’s always a good idea to tidy up and declutter to give the appraiser better access to what they need to check.

Things that can decrease the appraised value

On the other hand, things that will reduce the appraised value can range from things you can improve to things you don’t have a say in.

For example, an appraiser may deduct points if the property is not maintained, if the roof, walls and foundation have structural defects, if the property shows signs of mold, water damage and infestations of pests, or if the decor and fixtures are a bit dated.

Likewise, older homes are worth less than newly built homes because they generally require more maintenance and have higher upkeep costs.

How can the local area impact the appraised value?

What happens outside the property boundary is beyond your control, but can also have a significant chance of increasing or decreasing its appraised value.

For example, a home may be priced lower if it is in a declining market, lacks access to local amenities, or is in a FEMA flood zone.

However, a property in a hot market, in a trendy neighborhood and near schools or employers may even be valued higher than the sale price.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click on links in our stories.


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