An appraisal is conducted to determine the actual value of a home. Hiring an appraiser before placing your home on the market eliminates any uncertainty regarding how much your home is worth. Buyers using a lender to finance a home will also need an appraisal to ensure the home is worth the sale price. If you don't know what the appraisal consists of, you may be a little nervous wondering how to prepare, especially if your home is cluttered.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
A cluttered home will not get a lower appraisal unless the clutter affects the dwelling's structural integrity.
Impact of Clutter
Unless the amount of clutter begins to affect the structural condition of a home, it will not affect an appraisal. The cleanliness of a home also has no impact on the value. It is not uncommon for an appraiser to walk into a cluttered, messy home. Real estate appraisers are trained to overlook the clutter -- and the furnishings -- and envision the space as though it were empty.
Although your home is not valued based on your organization or cleaning skills, it is always a good idea to straighten up before an appraisal so the appraiser can get an accurate look. Provide the appraiser easy access to all rooms, including garages and crawl spaces.
Exterior and Interior Observations
Appraisal focuses on inspecting the home's land, structure and interior. The appraiser looks at the roof, siding and foundation to determine the quality and condition. Inside the inspector measures the rooms, checks the flooring and looks for signs of mold or other serious problems.
Peeling paint and holes in the wall will lower the value of a home. A fresh coat of paint, updated windows, and renovated kitchen can beef up the appraisal value. Adding landscaping can also boost the appraisal. Appraisers take note of the amenities your home has and any upgrades.
A Home's Surroundings
The appraisal is more than just an evaluation of your home. Other factors you can't control, including the neighborhood and the price of nearby homes, will impact your appraisal. Appraisals factor in the types of property surrounding your home (apartments, townhomes, condos), the age and condition of the neighborhood homes and the local landmarks or attractions. A park or school around the corner can add value to a home, while backing up to a busy highway can bring down the price.
Prepping the Home Before Selling
When it comes time to sell your home, clutter can affect how buyers view your home. A bright and clean room appears more spacious. Details make a big difference. A neat, well-cared for dwelling appeals to more buyers and is likely to sell faster and for a higher price than a shabby home.
You don't need to spend much to get your home ready to show. Replace cabinet knobs and curtains. Keep counters as uncluttered as possible. Put away items you use on a daily basis and normally keep on display, such as a coffee maker and other small appliances.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.