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pre-appraisal checklist for homeowners

Pre-Appraisal Checklist for Homeowners

Be Prepared for an Appraisal for a Positive Impact on Your Home’s Valuation

Whether you’re selling, refinancing, dividing assets, settling an estate, or determining capital gains on an income property, it pays dividends to be prepared for your home appraisal.

The benchmark for your home’s worth, an appraisal is a legal document that determines the fair market value of a property. It takes the home itself, the neighbourhood and the available historical data into account to determine the most accurate valuation. If you want to refinance, sell, or buy, the appraisal provides mortgage lenders with straight facts so they can underwrite loans based on the purchase price or the appraisal (whichever is lower.) If you’re selling or dividing assets post-divorce, the appraised value ensures that you’ll receive a fair sale price.

How Do I Get Ready for the Appraisal on My House?

Thinking back to when you first listed your home, you likely cleaned it top to bottom and got it looking as good as new for the marketing materials. You’ll want to do this again for your appraisal, so your home makes the best impression possible.

To prepare, gather up all the details about your home relevant to its value. Have a record of comparable properties in the neighbourhood, plus information about neighbourhood amenities. Once that’s done, you can turn to the home’s appearance, doing any repairs and getting estimates for any larger repairs or updates that are needed. Also, don’t overlook the general condition and upkeep of your home. Essentially, you’re going to want to pretend you’re listing your home for the first time and get it looking its best, attending to anything that may have been missed when it was placed on the market.

A good rule of thumb is the $500 rule. Anything that needs to be repaired or updated usually detracts from a home appraisal in $500 increments. Things like cracked tiles, broken fixtures or an outdated countertop can add up to thousands less in your home valuation. Before your home appraisal, you’ll want to go through your home and take care of anything that costs less than $500 to fix. You’ll be able to recover those costs in your home appraisal.

On the day of the appraisal, make sure the appraiser will be able to move around the full perimeter of the home and that all rooms are accessible. You may also want to contain any pets who may be a disturbance. We’ve prepared a complete checklist to make preparing for your home appraisal as simple as possible:

Full Residential Pre-Appraisal Checklist

Information About the Home

  • List of improvements made in the last 15 years, with costs and completion dates.
  • Plot/blueprint or property survey.
  • Home inspection reports (current and previous). If you’re unsure about the difference between each, we have a helpful blog post on home inspections vs. home appraisals.
  • Copies of any previous appraisals – this can help the appraiser see how the value has changed over the years. This can help to pinpoint any trends when combined with the BC Property Assessment information.
  • HOA documents – if you live in an HOA neighbourhood, the appraiser will need to see the costs, regular maintenance schedule, history of fee increases, etc.
  • Any known inconsistencies with data – if your assessed property value has been fluctuating wildly over the years, this needs to be looked at. This will help ensure a fair market value.
  • Any non-permitted additions – if you’ve added a permanent structure without a permit, this can impact the value of your home and pass an unwanted issue on to the buyer. It’s important to note that any undisclosed additions can cause a breach of conditions in your sale contract.
  • Any easements or encroachments – any part of the property should be accounted for to get the most accurate estimate of the land value.
  • The CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) from your Realtor – review this document to see if you know of any homes that were renovated after purchase. Their newly increased value can increase your neighbourhood’s benchmark prices and potentially, that of your home. Properties that have undergone significant changes may no longer be useful for the CMA.

Neighbourhood Features

  • Nearby schools and any special notes about their programs
  • Nearby parks and green space
  • Amenities and shopping
  • Public transport locations
  • Any infrastructure that’s been added since you bought the house


Interior Care

  • Clean up and repaint areas where paint is peeling and discoloured
  • Repair or replace broken hardware
  • Replace outdated fixtures
  • Clean carpets and mop hard flooring
  • Repair any loose floorboards, broken blinds, etc.


Installations

  • Are smoke detectors working?
  • Are carbon monoxide detectors working?
  • Is the water heater strapped?
  • Is the security system in good working order?
  • Are all appliances properly installed and working?


Repairs

  • Note any major repairs and how much it would cost to complete them.
    The appraiser will be able to factor that cost into the appraisal as if the repair or upgrade were already completed.
  • Any leaks in roof or key parts of the home
  • Cracks in walls or foundation
  • Damage to flooring
  • Damage to drywall or exterior stucco/siding
  • Peeling paint
  • Visible damage to doors, windows, screens, etc.


Exterior Care

  • Remove clutter and stray toys from the front and back yards
  • Mow the lawn
  • Tidy the garden and do a little light landscaping
  • If possible, add colour with flowers
  • Touch up paint where it’s needed
  • Replace any broken gutters
  • Update older fixtures and address numbers
  • Remove any outdated décor

 

If you have any questions or concerns about the appraisal process, we recommend looking through our FAQ section, or contacting us by phone or email for assistance. You may also want to speak with your real estate agents about your appraisal preparation.

For even more ways to increase your home’s appraisal value, be sure to read our post on 8 ways to increase the value of your home.

D. Fritz is your residential appraisal expert for Vancouver Island, Victoria and the Gulf Islands. If you’re considering refinancing, buying or selling, our professional team will provide the most accurate and comprehensive evaluations. With a combined half century of experience across the industry in business administration, lending and real estate sales, you can trust in D. Fritz for your real estate appraisal. To order your appraisal, contact our team today.

Home Appraisals - onsite vs online

Home Appraisals vs Online Home Value Calculators

Home Appraisals and Online Home Value Estimates Are NOT the Same Thing

On-site vs. Online: Proper Home Appraisals Need to be Done in Person

With so many types of transactions solely being handled online these days, it’s tempting to want to complete your required home appraisals entirely online and leave it at that. Online home value estimates, however, are not a substitute for a house appraisal carried out by a licensed real estate appraiser.

Online home value estimators can sometimes come close to providing the right answers, but they will never completely beat out the accuracy of an on-site visit by a professional. Nothing can beat the human touch when it comes to home appraisals! The following blog post explores why this is.

What is a Home Appraisal?Home Appraisals - onsite vs online

A home or house appraisal is a third-party report written by a professional appraiser who visits the property and does market research to analyze how much the house is worth in today’s market. An appraisal report informs homeowners, home buyers, and mortgage lenders on the market value of the home.

What is an Online Home Value Estimator?

An online home value estimator is a website or online tool that gives you a rough idea of what your home is worth, based on things like its address, square footage, lot size, and age. There are several competing websites and online platforms and tools offering home value estimators or home value estimating services. Sometimes these online services are referred to more formally as Automated Valuation Models (AVMs), or more casually, home value calculators.

There are online home value estimation tools for homeowners, realtors, and also for banks. While there are free online tools available to homeowners, the Realtors Property Resource is only available to real estate agents. Furthermore, some B2B home valuation services require a subscription, making them suitable for financial institutions and other companies who have recently started providing home estimates to accompany their other financial services.

Each of these tools, however, are likely to provide slightly varying results making them difficult to rely on for any definitive answers.

There are websites that provide home value estimations just by searching an address, while others may provide an estimate only upon request. The most basic ones are featured front row centre on real estate agent and mortgage broker websites. They start by simply asking you “What is your home worth?” or invite you to “Find out how much your house is worth.”

To use the tool, you simply enter your address, and then a few other property details, such as the age and type of property you have, how many bedrooms and bathrooms, and how big the lot size is.  Many of the tools ask you for your contact details or ask you to create an account so they can follow up with you. These free online calculators are essentially marketing tools but can provide a nice starting point for homeowners just starting to think about listing.

How Online Home Value Estimators Work

Online home value estimators provide estimated values for properties based on algorithms and calculations using different sets of property data, taken from MLS and BC Assessment, for example. They look for patterns and relationships between stored property values and the information you have input. These tools often look at past property tax records, what nearby homes have sold for recently, and the average price per square foot in the area.

Home value estimators are limited in what they can estimate, relying solely on the user’s answers to a handful of generic questions. They may or may not be able to calculate the desirability of the city the properties are located in. As such, they should not be considered as a substitute for formal home appraisals. This is because they are incapable of carrying out an up-to-the-minute comparative market analysis on your property, nor do they have intimate, in-depth knowledge of your local area like a local real estate appraiser would have.

Limitations of Home Value Estimators

Home value estimators can give you a rough estimate of what your home is worth, but they cannot account for things like:

  • unique features of a home
  • recent repairs or renovations
  • add-ons or upgrades
  • local markets
  • neighbourhood charm
  • nearby attractions and amenities
  • future amenities
  • quality of the views
  • how well-cared for the home is

In contrast, a licenced property appraisal professional looks at all of those things and more to deliver a thorough, trustworthy and confidential appraisal.

The Takeaway

As technologies get better and better and more data becomes available, the number of companies offering online home value estimates may grow. As it stands, although online home valuation calculators are not thorough or robust enough to replace a human appraiser, they are still commonly used to get both high and low ratio mortgages approved.

A good example of this is CMHC’s auto valuation tool called Emili. Described by the CMHC as “a groundbreaking on-line mortgage loan insurance [decision-making] system,” Emili is essentially a database of properties that uses different factors as way of determining what a house is worth.
Most of these online estimators will highlight the importance of meeting with a real estate professional or home appraiser to receive an in-depth, in-person appraisal of the property that factors in local markets.

A Homeowner’s Next Steps

If you require a general sense of how much your home is worth, an online home value estimator may be a good place to start as they are free and fast.  Some realtors, financial institutions, and professional property appraisers do use sophisticated versions of them as a starting point before doing an on-site appraisal.

After you have checked your home’s value online, consider meeting with a real estate agent to see what they would list your house for. If the numbers are aligned, that’s a good thing! But if the numbers are wildly off, a professional home appraiser can help.

If you receive a home appraisal that is a lot different than the amount an online value home estimator provided you, do not be alarmed. It’s common for these numbers to be different, and when they are, we recommend trusting the person who looked at your property in person. Artificial Intelligence cannot yet beat human input when it comes to home appraisals!

Contact D. Fritz Appraisals today to book your next appraisal in Victoria, BC. We specialize in real estate appraisals for all situations, such as mortgage refinancing, new construction, division of assets, and estates.

landscaping improves the value of your home

8 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

Doing These Eight Things Will Help Increase Your Home’s Appraised Value

Looking for ways to increase the appraised value of your home? There are many things you can do to boost its overall value.  The biggest things determining the value of your home are its location, its size, and the current market conditions. While these three factors are out of your control, there are still many things you can do to impress appraisers and list your house for top dollar.

Before you go spending thousands of dollars in renovations, however, make sure you follow this advice from the outset.

  • Create a Budget – Do your research and come up with a realistic budget and do your best to play within it. You need to be careful that what you spend on renovations is less than the potential increase in value of your house.
  • Keep Careful Records – Every trip to the hardware store adds up, so write everything down, keep receipts, and make note of any warranties you get. This information will help you impress the appraiser as well as prospective buyers.

Now that you’ve got the “bookkeeping” out of the way, here are 8 things you can do to increase the value of your home.landscaping improves the value of your home

    1. Consult pros along the way – Ask your real estate agent, your contractor, or even the owner of the paint store for advice along the way. It’s often free!
    2. Book a Home Appraisal – Hiring an accredited appraiser at the beginning can help you understand what your home is worth in its current condition. It can also help you qualify for a home equity line of credit for larger projects.
    3. Consider Your Neighbourhood – Check to see the listing prices of homes in your neighbourhood before getting too deep into a renovation. The neighbourhood will dictate the upper limits of what you can realistically expect to sell your house for. This ultimately affects how much money you should invest in improvements.  For example, fancy fixtures might be over the top and quickly eat up the budget without adding any value to your listing price. You might not get back the cost of those $1,000 lighting fixtures. Likewise, a prospective buyer won’t be willing to overpay for your property just because it has a sauna.
    4. Enhance Your Curb Appeal – A house that looks well taken care of from the outside can impress appraisers and prospective buyers alike. Enhancing your home’s curb appeal includes things like:
      Cleaning the roof: Get rid of that overgrown moss. For most houses, it’s not a charming look.
      Repairing the roof: Attend to roof repairs. A roof in poor condition will be flagged during a home inspection, allowing people to low ball or withdraw their offers.
      Fixing the fence: Fix your fence if it needs fixing but note that adding a fence where there wasn’t one there before might cost a lot without adding value.
      Power wash: A thorough power wash can quickly revive patios, driveways, and paths.
      Lawns: Keep the grass green and trim.
      Landscaping: Weed the garden, trim the hedges, and check with your municipality about removing hazardous looking trees.
    5. Fix the Small Details – Inside, a lot of small fixes can add value. Things like leaking faucets, noisy bathroom fans, cracked windows, holes in the walls, burned out lightbulbs, carpet stains, and aging or outdated electrical fixtures can make your home seem like it needs a lot of work, thereby reducing its value. So, take care of these easy fixes.
    6. Fresh Coat of Paint – A freshly painted house will clean and brighten everything up. Pick neutral colours, shop around for reliable painting companies, and be amazed at how quickly your value has increased.
    7. Make It a Smart Home – Adding a few “smart” features to your home can add a touch of modern tech and appeal, without costing a lot. Consider installing Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, doorbells and other gadgets to increase appeal.
    8. Kitchens & Bathrooms – In many cases, a kitchen or bathroom reno can increase the value of your home. But proceed with caution because these types of projects can end up costing more money than what they add to your home’s selling price.

Every home is different. A kitchen renovation might make sense in one home, whereas in another house, adding a second bathroom instead of replacing the kitchen might make more sense.

Sometimes you can avoid going the whole nine yards and can get away with just swapping out the appliances and adding a fresh countertop. Make kitchen and bathroom renovation decisions wisely and consult an expert before you begin ripping out cupboards and bathtubs.

To learn more about the appraisal process and what appraisers look for when they visit your property, contact D. Fritz Appraisals – your Victoria, BC property appraisal experts servicing Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.