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What to Expect at Home Appraisals

Whether you are selling your home or refinancing, you'll probably getting a call from an appraiser. Their job is to determine the fair market value of your home based on guidelines set out by the Federal National Mortgage Association. This is not the same as a competitive market analysis that many real estate brokers perform, sometimes referred to as "comps". The professional appraiser does an in depth analysis of you home's condition, additional features as compared to other similar homes, and location. They start by looking at you neighborhood and find comparable homes that may have sold recently, characteristics of lifestyles, income level in the area, average age, and surrounding home values.

So if you home has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a 2 car garage on a half acre of land, they will try to find a similar home in a nearby neighborhood. Sometimes they will extend their search and compare homes within the same school district when it is a known factor that affects the value of a home. Once they find comparable properties, they will make some adjustments.

Sometimes they will add value to your home based on the landscaping, external features such as a fenced back yard, or maybe there is view of the ocean. Numerous items may be added or subtracted from your home's value. Living space, numbers of rooms, sales in the last 120 days, usable land, and many other factors are considered.

Rest assured it is not an entirely subjective process, but rather methodical and universal. They don't consider your choice of wallpaper and curtains. They don't care if there are 200 toys laying in the family room or that you didn't make you bed. Of course it doesn't hurt to tidy up a bit, but it's not really a factor in determining the appraised value of your home. They are there to measure boundaries, going to each level in your home and looking in all the rooms, and taking more measurements. A few pictures are taken only for the appraiser's folder which will go in a file.

Normally, if you are buying a home or refinancing, you can let the lender know if you prefer a particular appraiser or company. You can ask any real estate broker if they can recommend someone to you as well. A qualified appraiser is licensed by the state and will cost from $150 to $500 or more depending on the size of the home. If you are selling your home, the buyer normally pays for this. However, it wouldn't be a bad idea to get an inexpensive online appraisal.

You can find one of the better instant online appraisal companies at Online Home Appraisals.

Robert Rogers is a writer in the Washington DC area. For more free tips and resources, visit his website Home Appraisals Online

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