One of the final and perhaps most nerve-wracking stage of selling your home is ensuring that the buyer’s mortgage clears. A crucial element of this process is the appraisal, when a home appraiser steps in to estimate the cost of your home for the lender. Here are three important things you may not have known about the appraisal process as a home seller that can help you better prepare and know what to expect.

A Nice Home Doesn’t Equal a Nice Price

You love your home. It’s beautiful, it’s tastefully well-appointed, and it’s the envy of your whole neighborhood. It should blow the appraiser away, right? Unfortunately, wrong. In the world of appraisals, a home that stands out too much may as well have a target painted on the front lawn. This is because home appraisals are largely based on the trends of the surrounding neighborhood. An appraiser will take into account the features of homes in area and price yours accordingly. This means that if your home is significantly larger and up-to-date than the ones around it, you may be disappointed (custom-built homes on purchased lots are particularly susceptible). Conversely, if your house is modest yet surrounded by more extravagant abodes, you might be pleasantly surprised when the appraiser comes back with their estimate.

The Appraiser’s Estimate Is Not What the Buyer Will Pay

Lenders rely so heavily on an appraiser’s estimate, that it’s easy to forget that that’s just what it is: an estimate. It is highly educated and informed, but there’s no guarantee that the estimate will match the market value of your home. In the event that the two don’t line up, the seller, the buyer, and their realtors may need to have a conference and arrive upon a solution to make up the difference. During an appraisal, be prepared for such an event and know that the appraisal process is more malleable than it seems.

The Appraiser Does Not Work For The Buyer

While the buyer is paying the appraiser for their services, this does not mean the appraiser is working for or representing them. The appraiser actually serves the lender more than anyone else in the home-selling process, as the lender relies on the appraiser’s estimate when deciding how much to lend to a buyer. However, this does not mean that the appraiser is unfairly serving the lender’s interests: appraisers are trained to be as unbiased as possible, and there are a variety of laws protecting them from coercion.

Improvements Don’t Equal A Better Estimate

Popular belief is that any improvement on a home will raise its value. However, when improvements are factored into an appraisal, it’s not so simple. Appraisers are there to approximate the market value of your home, and the market value is generally what other people are willing to pay. You may love your home theater that’s also an exact replica of the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise–but the average buyer may not share your vision. When making improvements to your home, keep the future buyer in the back of your mind so that when the appraiser comes calling, you won’t be disappointed.

For more information on the appraisal process, contact a Showcase team member! We’re here to make sure that every step of the home-selling and buying process goes smoothly and is tailored to your needs. It’s our job and our passion to help you buy and sell with confidence!