Home Appraisals and Deferred Maintenance

A real estate appraiser will consider several factors when determining the market value of your home. This includes how well you've taken care of your residence. If you've put off maintenance on your home's major appliances, or if you've let your home's driveway, flooring or foundation fall into disrepair, your appraiser will take note.

Why Appraisals Matter

The appraisal is a key part of the mortgage-lending process, whether you're applying for a new mortgage loan to finance the purchase of a home or if you want to refinance your existing mortgage loan. In either case, your lender will need to know the current market value of the home you own or the one you want to buy. Only a real estate appraiser can tell that. When you are purchasing a home, your lender will want to make sure you're not overpaying for a residence. When refinancing, your lender will want to make sure you have at least 20 percent equity in your residence; it needs to first know the current value of your home to determine this.

What Appraisers Look For

When determining the value of your home, your appraiser will consider several factors. Appraisers study the sales prices that similar homes in your neighborhood have earned. They also consider your home's size, style and location. Your home, for instance, will appraise higher if it is located close to high-quality schools or green park space. It will appraise lower if it sits on a busy street or across the street from a factory. Appraisers might raise the value of your home if you've added improvements such as an updated kitchen or master bathroom. But your appraiser will also note the condition of your home. And if you've deferred maintenance on household appliances or your home's structure, you could see your home's appraised value fall.

Deferred Maintenance

Your appraiser won't care if your sink is full of dirty dishes. Your appraiser won't care, either, if your master bedroom's beds are unmade or if a pile of dirty clothes has piled on the floor. Appraisers will, however, look for signs of neglect. Your appraiser will note, for instance, if your kitchen window has a crack that hasn't been repaired or if the driveway is filled with cracks or potholes. Your appraiser will notice if your dishwasher doesn't work, the carpeting in your living room is torn or the paint on your kitchen walls is chipped. Your appraiser will also notice if the flower beds in front of your home are choked with weeds and dead bushes. All these signs of deferred maintenance can cause your appraiser to lower the value of your home.

Boosting Value

There's nothing you can do about the railroad tracks across the street from your home. You can't help the fact that your home is the smallest on the block. But you can tackle that deferred maintenance to boost your home. Clear out the weeds in front of your home. Repaint your living room walls. Replace torn carpeting. And get that dishwasher and microwave oven repaired. Anything you can do to make sure that your home and its systems are in working order can help boost the appraised value of your residence.


About the Author

Don Rafner has been writing professionally since 1992, with work published in "The Washington Post," "Chicago Tribune," "Phoenix Magazine" and several trade magazines. He is also the managing editor of "Midwest Real Estate News." He specializes in writing about mortgage lending, personal finance, business and real-estate topics. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Illinois.