How to Get Your House Appraised

Four Parts:Finding an AppraiserPreparing for the AppraisalManaging Appraisal DayContesting a Low Appraisal

Appraisals are usually associated with buying a house. But they serve other purposes as well. For example, if you’re looking to refinance your home, the bank or mortgage company will almost always require an appraisal. Some people, especially those who may be thinking about selling in the near future, might order an appraisal just to get an idea of what their home is worth. Most of the time, the mortgage company or bank will provide their own appraiser. Sometimes, however, you may be allowed to choose one. Either way, there are steps you should take to ensure the appraisal is accurate, and that the process goes smoothly.

Part 1
Finding an Appraiser

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    Contact your state agency that licenses appraisers. All states require appraisers to be state licensed or certified in order to provide appraisals to lenders regulated by the federal government.[1]
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    Locate a qualified appraiser in your area by using reliable online resources, such as These sites usually offer a variety of ways to search for a local licensed or certified appraiser.
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    Get a referral from your mortgage company, bank, or realtor. If you’ll be obtaining the appraisal yourself for a refinance or home equity loan, your lender should be able to provide you with the names of appraisers they deal with. If you’re thinking of selling your house, a local realtor will usually be more than happy to give you some names.
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    Request that your lender send a local appraiser. If you're working with a bank or mortgage company, and if you aren't permitted to get your own appraiser, be sure to ask your lender to send an appraiser who is very familiar with your neighborhood. Otherwise, there’s a decent chance the appraisal won’t be accurate.[2]

Part 2
Preparing for the Appraisal

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    Know what the appraiser will be looking for. There are various items appraisers consider when conducting their appraisal inspection. Some of these are:
    • location
    • exterior and interior condition
    • total room count
    • functionality, including interior room design and layout
    • improvements to kitchens and baths, windows, the roof and the home’s systems (heating, electrical and plumbing)
    • the condition and age of the home’s systems
    • exterior features such as garages, decks and porches.[3]
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    Consider the reason for the appraisal. What you hope to get out of an appraisal depends on your reason for getting one in the first place. Whatever the reason, the key is finding an appraiser who is experienced, and who knows your neighborhood. Here are some scenarios, and what to look for:
    • Refinancing a mortgage, or obtaining a home equity loan/line of credit. In this situation, you want the highest appraisal possible. If you're aware of recent sales of properties similar to yours, let the appraiser know. Be prepared to tell the appraiser if, and why, you feel your house may be worth more than those others.
    • Contesting a tax assessment. Here, the lower the appraisal the better. If your neighbors' houses are comparable to yours, find out what their tax bills are. You can simply ask, or check the records at your local tax assessor's office. Tell the appraiser if their bills are less than yours.
    • Selling your home. Obviously, you're hoping for a high appraisal. Again, inform the appraiser if your house has improvements or features that some of the similar, recently-sold houses in your neighborhood didn't have.[4]
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    Gather documents that may aid the appraiser. Appraisers appreciate anything that will make their job easier. So try to have helpful paperwork available, such as:
    • A plot plan or survey of the house and land.
    • The most recent real estate tax bill and/or legal description of the property.
    • Home inspection reports, or other recent, more specific inspection reports, like for termites, septic systems and wells.
    • A title policy that describes encroachments or easements (you likely got a copy of this when you bought your house).[5]
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    Find comparable properties. Websites like will give you information on recent sale prices for homes similar to yours in your neighborhood. As mentioned above, it would be helpful if you could have this information available for the appraiser, to at least give him or her an idea of what the going price is in your neighborhood.[6] In order to be considered a "comparable", the home's physical characteristics should be similar to yours. This would include things such as:
    • square footage
    • number of bedrooms and bathrooms
    • floor plan, and
    • age.[7]
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    Write down a complete list of upgrades to your home. Everything helps, but big-ticket items such as a new roof, furnace, or water heater can really make a difference. Make sure you include new appliances being sold with the home as well.[8]
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    Take steps to maximize the appraisal. A little money and/or elbow grease can go a long way to making sure your home’s value is at top dollar. There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint inside and out to spruce up a home’s appearance. And don't ignore problems you may think are minor, such as leaky faucets or missing door handles. They can make a bad impression.[9]

Part 3
Managing Appraisal Day

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    Clean the house. The appraiser isn’t there to buy your home, but that doesn’t mean appearances don’t count. Remove any clutter from inside. Wash those breakfast dishes. Eliminate any household odors. Make sure the lawn is mowed.[10]
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    Be sure all the areas of your home are easily accessible. The appraiser will be going through every room in the house, including any attic or crawl space. The last thing he or she wants to do is navigate an obstacle course.[11]
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    Make the appraiser as comfortable as possible. Keep the temperature in the house at a moderate level. You may think eighty-five degrees is comfy, but maybe the appraiser won’t. Also, keep pets locked up or away from the house while the appraiser is there. And do your best to stop the kids from causing any major disruptions.[12]
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    Stay out of the way. Your inclination may be to plant yourself in the appraiser’s hip pocket. Don’t. Most appraisers want to be left alone to do their job. Just make yourself available in case the appraiser has any questions.[13]

Part 4
Contesting a Low Appraisal

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    Provide newer comparables. Your chances of getting appraisers to change their mind once an appraisal is completed are slim. But showing them updated comparable properties is worth a shot. Your best bet is if the comparable properties were sold after the date your appraisal was done.[14]
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    Determine if there are missing or erroneous comparables in the appraisal. Check your appraisal to see what comparables the appraiser used.
    • If the appraiser didn’t include a local sale of a house similar to yours, with a selling price higher than your appraisal, bring it to the appraiser’s attention (or your bank or mortgage company).
    • Likewise, if the appraiser included a sale that was of a distressed property (such as a foreclosure), the selling price may not have been the house’s true value. So mention this as well.[15]
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    See if the houses in the appraisal are in the same school district. A school district can make a big difference in a home’s value. If you live in a good school district, and one (or more) of the comparables in the appraisal is in a less desirable district, the appraisal may be inaccurate.[16]
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    Request a second appraisal. If you believe your home’s appraisal is really off-base, ask your lending company to order a new one. There’s no guarantee you’ll be successful, but there’s certainly no harm in trying.[17]
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    Order your own appraisal. If all else fails, find an appraiser of your own, and get a new appraisal. Just be aware that you’ll be spending more money, and it’s possible the new appraisal won’t differ from the old one. Nor is there any guarantee that the bank or mortgage company will change its mind. But again,nothing ventured, nothing gained.[18]


  • Expect to pay around $300 to $500 for an appraisal of a standard single-family home.[19]
  • You have the right to receive a free copy of your home appraisal for a first-lien mortgage. [20]


  • Remember that an appraisal is different than a home inspection. An inspection is usually conducted on behalf of a buyer, and concentrates on the details of the home's condition. The appraisal is what determines the home's market value.[21]

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Categories: Selling Property