Key takeaways: 

  • Your home’s exterior matters as much as its interior when you’re getting an appraisal.
  • You don’t have to do much to make it appraisal-ready, but you should make an effort.

If you’ve ever prepared your home for a sale, you know you don’t take any chances. You probably tidied up all the clutter, cleaned everything, and tried to make your aesthetic choices as neutral as possible, to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.

There’s an argument to be made that you should be just as fastidious when preparing for an appraisal. After all, the impression you make on that appraiser might be just as important as one you make on a potential buyer. If you’re relying on the appraisal for a home equity deal, for example, it could mean the difference between tens of thousands of dollars.

To be sure, appraisers are taking far more than your home’s curb appeal into consideration when evaluating your home. They will factor in your home’s location, number of rooms, square footage and how your home stacks up to previously sold, comparable ones. (A comprehensive explanation of that process can be found here, from the professional organization for appraisers.)

But experts say that appraisers may be just as swayed by well-kept exteriors as house hunters are. It’s pretty intuitive that tidier houses belong to people who take care of them. With that in mind, here are several relatively easy and (hopefully) inexpensive things you can do to the exterior of your home before your appraisal to maximize your shot at the biggest number possible.

  • Tidy up. Mow the lawn, weed the gardens, trim bushes, remove dead branches and leaves, sweep the sidewalks and driveway, and store the garbage and recycling containers, and kids’ toys. Pay particular attention to toys and home/garden tools that may seem like they’ve been left over from another season (like a sled or ice skates in the springtime, for example, or the summer’s vegetable plants in the late fall.)
  • Consider cleaning exterior walls and windows, and patching up any missing or broken shingles, shutters or other pieces of siding. If your roof needs a cleaning or some patching, this might be the time to do it. The same thing goes if you have a fence and it’s broken, bent, or hidden under leaves or other vegetation. 
  • Restain or paint decks or porches that could use it, or at least consider power washing them.
  • Clean the entryway, including the front walkway, steps, and door, and make sure these areas are clear of clutter. You might want to add a plant or two, or something else decorative. 
  • Make sure all exterior light fixtures and other electronics, like garage doors, are working properly.

In short, you shouldn’t need to spend a fortune – or weeks and weeks of your life – to get your home ready for an appraisal. But the exterior is an appraiser’s first impression, and your shot at the highest appraisal value possible. It’s worth putting in the effort to spruce it up. 

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