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Real Estate Valuation Impact: Does Neat and Clean Count?
Does the Appraiser Care How Neat Your Home Is?
The short answer is: it depends, maybe or yes.
Most of us know that when you put your house on the market, it needs to look and be as spiffy as possible. For this reason, many of the resale homes we appraise have been de-cluttered and carefully organized to present the best possible image to potential buyers.
Stuff Gets in the Way
De-cluttering and deep-cleaning your home can also be beneficial to the appraisal process because a home packed to the gills with stuff, albeit fabulous stuff, is hard to get a good look at. It can be more time-consuming to measure if the rooms on the second story (which is measured from the inside, whereas the first floor is measured from the outside) only have a single-file maze cut into the boxes and toys flowing from room to room.
Oh, yes, we've seen that, and not just in our own home after the holidays or at the end of summer vacation!
The appraiser shouldn't penalize you for the inconvenience, but the easier it is for the condition of your home to be evaluated, the more accurate the resulting appraisal will be.
The condition of a property is evaluated during the appraisal inspection and when your home is clean, organized and de-cluttered, you are presenting your home in the best possible condition short of making major improvements to the surfaces (flooring, counters, paint) or the structure of the home.
You may find that when you decide to get your home ready to sell, you may want to do a little extra: maybe paint over the dirtiest walls, replace the worn-out vinyl that you didn't notice until you cleared out the laundry room, and/or steam clean the carpet.
Each of these acts improve the condition of your home, and might have an impact on the appraised value. I say might because it depends on the before-and-after impact of what you decide to super-clean, upgrade and/or replace.
Keeping up with the Neighbors
You may want to be careful that any modifications you make are in keeping with current trends for your area.
For example, you might not want to put in economy vinyl if travertine tile in the norm for your neighborhood, and don't waste your hard-earned dollars on exotic granite if laminate counters are the most common local kitchen counter surfaces.
You may be wondering why this matters.
This matters because if you spend $5000 on upgrades that over-improve your property compared to other homes in your area, you are much less likely to see a favorable return on your investment.
On the other hand, if the most otherwise-comparable homes that have recently sold all have granite and yours doesn't, your home's appraisal value may be adjusted accordingly - all depending on the overall comparison of your home to the other recent sales.
Get Good Advice
Your best bet is to make sure you have a knowledgeable Realtor to help you weigh the pros and cons of your to-do list for getting your home ready to sell.
Your Realtor should have a good idea of what the homes typical for the area have with regards to upgrades and improvements, and can share information from recent comparable sales (and homes currently for sale), including interior photos that can help you scope out the competition.
If this sounds like a big job, just remember that the work you do getting ready to sell will make getting ready to move THAT much easier, and we all know there is value in that. 🙂
Independent Real Estate Appraiser in Austin, Texas: Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell Counties
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You should always have a local, qualified professional answer your appraisal-related questions for any specific property. Do not make decisions about real estate based on the information in this article or on this website.