How to Prepare for a Home Appraisal

The best thing a homeowner can do to prepare for a home appraisal is to ensure an appraiser has easy access to the exterior and interior of the home.

The first step in most appraisals is the property inspection. An appraiser will record the layout of the rooms, take photos, and document the general condition of the home. The appraiser provides a professional, unbiased determination of market value to be used in real estate transactions.

When you prepare for a home appraisal, the process does not have to be complicated. Consider these tips, but don’t become overwhelmed. Do as much as you can, and if you can’t do anything except let the appraiser in, then just do that and don’t sweat it!

Clean up the clutter.

Clean your home up on the inside and outside. Because the first step of the appraisal is property inspection, it is beneficial (though not necessary) to trim any bushes and relocate items that would make it difficult for an appraiser to measure the structure. Ensure an appraiser will have easy access to items such as furnaces and water heaters.

Enhance your home’s curb appeal by maintaining the landscape. Consider these simple tips to boost your appraisal value.Lawn mower

  • Mow the lawn
  • Mulch flower beds
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on the door
  • Pressure wash the curb, porch, and driveway

Another simple tip to prepare for a home appraisal is to turn on the lights in your home. This makes it easier for the appraiser to walk through and see everything.

Make minor fixes.

A great way to prepare for a home appraisal is by walking through your home to see if you
find any noticeable issues. Do you have rotted wood or rusted gutters? These are quick-fix
items that require minor updating.

Additional items that could require minor fixes include:

  • Heating and cooling systems are serviced and in functional condition
  • Appliances are operational and well-maintained
  • Leaks are patched
  • Broken windows are replaced
  • Cracks in the walls are patched and painted

It is important to remember that the current condition and functionality of the home is
more important to the appraiser than the age of the home.

Compile a list of previous home renovations.

If your home has undergone previous home renovations, compile a list of those things and
make it available to the appraiser. Your appraiser may or may not want to see all the details,
below, but at least having a list of what has been done will be welcomed by all appraisers!
You can opt to pull a folder together and include:

  • Receipts
  • Before and after photos of renovations
  • Taxation details
  • Permits

floor plans of homeAn appraiser is primarily looking at the condition of your home. This is one of the primary
things that helps to determine where your house will place in the market. Any maintenance
or renovation item is important information for the appraiser to have.

When an appraiser visits your home, he or she will take notes of everything that is part of
the property. An appraiser will assess the condition of your home and how well it has been
maintained. The process does not have to be stressful. Consider these tips to best prepare
for a home appraisal!

Definitive Valuations is North Alabama’s premiere appraisal firm. Our mission is to provide
superior valuation and consulting services in Huntsville, Alabama, and surrounding areas.
Our staff strives to understand your needs and to provide the best solution for your
situation – whether for financial planning, relocation, tax dispute, legal matters, pre-listing,
or any other purposes. Discover more here.

12 Factors to Consider for Your Next Home Appraisal

There are several factors that may impact your home appraisal value. The main purpose of
an appraisal report is to give a value opinion. Each factor within an appraisal report has its
own impact on the final value of the property. A home appraisal is crucial to place your
home on the market fairly, based on a comparable set of standards and the surrounding
Check out these 12 factors that can influence your home appraisal value.


One of the factors taken into consideration when valuing a home is its location. The location
includes not just the neighborhood your home is in, but where it is positioned within the
neighborhood. A larger lot in the back of the neighborhood may (or may not) be worth more
than a corner lot parallel to the main road.
A neighborhood’s value is based on factors including proximity to schools and hospitals, the
rating of nearby school systems, and surrounding amenities such as parks and shopping

Overhead view of neighborhood

Structural Materials and Updates

Another factor taken into consideration when determining appraised value is the materials
used to build your home and/or recent updating completed. The value may increase if your
home was built more recently with modern materials. The appraiser also considers updates
that have been made to items such as the roof, siding, or windows. These things improve
the overall efficiency and safety of the structure of your home, but are often be considered
maintenance items. (You wouldn’t consider purchasing a home with no roof would you?)
However, there are other updates that can be made to make a home more appealing to the
current market, such as remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, replacing floor covering, and
fresh paint.


A newer home doesn’t always appraise higher than an older home. There are pros and cons
to older and newer homes. New homes, built within the last 10-20 years, are less likely to
have major issues and are lower risk to buy. This may increase the home’s appraised value.
On the other hand, in some markets, older homes located in historic districts may demand
higher prices in the market.

Design Style

A home appraisal also takes into consideration the overall design of the home. In some
markets (but not all), design differences can mean differences in values when all other
things are equal.

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal and general landscaping of the home may also impact a home’s value. Although
it may/may not be possible for an appraiser to make a specific dollar amount adjustment for
your nicely landscaped yard, it is taken into consideration in the overall condition and
quality of your home. Consider an easy-to-care-for layout and clean landscape design to
appeal to most buyers.

Front of house

Number of Rooms

The number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your home may also impact the overall value of
the home. A home appraiser will compare your home to others in the area with the same,
or similar, number of bedrooms and bathrooms to make a value comparison.

Real Estate Market

The current status of the local real estate market has a great impact on the final appraisal
value of your home. If the market is saturated with buyers but there aren’t enough sellers,
home values will typically be on an upswing. On the other hand, an appraised value is
expected to be lower in the middle of a market that is saturated with many homes and
fewer buyers.

Recent Renovations

Recently renovated homes, especially those with upgraded kitchens and bathrooms, have a
major impact on the appraisal value of homes. Renovating these areas before putting your
home on the market is a great idea and can help realize a high return on investment. But, be
careful not to “over-improve” your home. Get advice from someone who knows your
neighborhood and what buyers expect. You may not want to put in that gourmet kitchen if you won’t get a return on your investment should you need to sell, because buyers aren’t
looking for that in your neighborhood.


An appraiser considers various factors when assessing a home’s garage (or lack thereof). This

  • If a garage exists
  • How many cars can fit

In general, where a home buyer is able to park their cars will influence the appraisal value.

Storage SpaceCloset storage space

A home with ample storage space such as closets, a basement, or a large attic is typically noticed by appraisers and may or may not impact value. Many home buyers are looking to upsize their home, including their storage space. Appraisers can consider this factor when determining a home’s value.


Heat & Air

The type of heat and air your home has is a factor in your home appraisal value. Central air
and heating results in a higher appraisal value than homes that require individual units in
each room. Outdated systems will also lower the appraisal value of your home.

Square Footage

Appraisers observe the square footage of homes. Once the total square feet number is
determined, an appraiser considers how the space is distributed throughout the home.
Appraisers will consider things such as:

  • How much square footage is useable
  • How much square footage is live-able space
  • How many stories your home has

Consider this list of factors prior to having your home appraised, in order to get the most
value. Additionally, consider strategically placing your home for sale during a time when the
market is filled with buyers. Check out the various things included in a Definitive Homes appraisal report here.


Definitive Valuations is North Alabama’s premiere appraisal firm. Our mission is to provide superior valuation and consulting services in Huntsville, Alabama, and surrounding areas. Our staff strives to understand your needs and to provide the best solution for your situation – whether for financial planning, relocation, tax dispute, legal matters, pre-listing, or any other purposes. Discover more here.

Difference Between Appraisals and Inspections

Differences Between a Home Appraisal and a Home Inspection

Home appraisals and home inspections are two very different things, but both are necessary in the home buying or selling process. Each of them are evaluating the home from two different perspectives. Additionally, the two are very different processes requiring separate skill sets and expertise.

What is an Appraisal?

The home appraisal is a form of evaluation in which the appraiser gives an opinion of the value of the property being considered. As an appraiser formulates an opinion of the value of your home, he or she will take the following into consideration during the process:

  • Location
  • Size and type of Lot
  • Overall Quality of Construction
  • Overall Condition
  • Prices of Comparable Properties

An appraiser isn’t interested in whether a house is clean, but he or she will notice signs of neglect, such as cracked walls or chipped paint. There are three types of approaches which guide the appraiser to build the valuation of the property.

Cost Approach

The cost approach is one approach that appraisers may consider while determining value, although it is important to note that cost does not necessarily equal value in the world of appraisal. Cost may be greater than, equal to, or less than the contributing value of that item/feature to the whole value of the property. The cost approach involves discerning what the improvements would cost minus physical depreciation, plus the land value.

Sales Comparison Approach

In the sales comparison approach, the appraiser carries out a detailed analysis of comparable sales within the subject’s defined market area. Preferably these properties will be located within close proximity to the property being appraised and will be reflective of the most recent sales. Although for specialty properties, an appraiser may be required to search further in distance and time to find something truly “comparable” to the property being appraised. This approach is the most accurate and clearest indicator of a likely sales price for a home since realtors in the market also look at other home sales in the market when assisting potential buyers and sellers in real estate transactions.

Income ApproachWoman holding clipboard making notes

Lastly, the income approach is another option appraisers can rely on and is most valuable when appraising income producing properties (rental properties). This method involves estimating what an investor would pay based on the money produced by the property.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure of a house, from its roof to the foundation. The home inspection involves comprehensive analysis of the structure, amenities, and other items to include:

  • HVAC Systems
  • Interior Electrical Systems
  • Sanitation / Plumbing
  • Roofing
  • Chimneys
  • Visible Insulation
  • Walls, Ceilings, Floors, Windows, and Doors

A home inspector will educate the buyer or seller on the condition of the home and its major components. The inspector also takes note of the cleanliness and physical condition of the house, looking for things such as cracks in the walls, broken windows, chipped paint, damaged floors, torn carpet, or damaged appliances.

Man unlocking door to house

The Differences

A home inspection will always involve a professional visiting a property and conducting a physical exam. Often an appraisal will often involve a visit to the property by a professional appraiser. However, it is important to note that an appraiser may also be able to give an opinion of value without visiting the property at all as long as enough information is available to make some assumptions and complete the assignment. Additionally, both home inspections and appraisals will often occur prior to the closing of the sale of a home and will result in a report regarding the property’s state, functionality, and integrity. Both are also meant to be unbiased looks at the piece of real estate. However, the two also have big differences, as they both complete different tasks.

Ultimate Goal

A real estate appraiser’s key job is to provide their opinion of the value of the home to the lender, buyer, and/or seller. On the other hand, a home inspector guides the buyer about the physical components and the detailed condition of the home.


A home inspectors inspection can last two to three hours, while an average appraisal inspection involves a simple walk-through. The appraiser’s job is not finished and did not start at the property inspection, but involves detailed research, analysis, and reporting of the market activity and sales in the area and how they compare to the property being appraised.


An inspection assesses the physical components of a home. An appraisal considers a multitude of features of the home including: the location of the home, the school district the home is zoned for, the size of the home, its overall quality and its overall condition.

Both appraisals and inspections are important in protecting a real estate investment. An inspection can safeguard you from making any costly mistakes, such as purchasing a home with a faulty foundation. An appraisal gives you an unbiased, accurate value of the property. Be sure to have both processes taken care of before making any next steps in buying or selling property.

Definitive Valuations is North Alabama’s premiere appraisal firm. Our mission is to provide superior valuation and consulting services in Huntsville, Alabama, and surrounding areas. Our staff strives to understand your needs and to provide the best solution for your situation – whether for financial planning, relocation, tax dispute, legal matters, pre-listing, or any other purposes. Discover more here.

4 Tips to Increase Your Kitchen’s Value

When looking to increase your home’s value, the best place to start is the kitchen. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, each year, kitchen renovation projects record the highest return on investment. Statistics show that 75 to 100 percent of kitchen expenditures are recovered when the home is sold.

Consider the following tips when looking to increase the value of your kitchen.

Do the Research.

Ask a local real estate agent about kitchen necessities in your specific neighborhood and surrounding areas. Research what attracts buyers and what repels them. Because you need to realize a nice Return on Investment (ROI) on your kitchen once it is time to put your home on the market or to receive an appraisal, you must set priorities based on what sells a kitchen.

Simplicity is Key.

One of the most important things to remember when remodeling your kitchen is to choose materials and designs that appeal to the masses. The style and color scheme of your kitchen should be simple and classic. Although bold colors and texture may be on trend, the lifespan of these themes are often short-lived.

Consider Consistency.

Additionally, it is important that you never compromise the architecture of your home. If the exterior of your home is traditional, a contemporary kitchen would not transition well for most buyers.

Modern kitchen design

Avoid Luxurious Accessories.

When selecting materials and appliances for your kitchen, keep your budget in mind. If cabinets are outdated, it may only require new hardware to refresh the look. Steer clear of exotic designs and appliances, and be sure to ask yourself if what you are considering is a necessity for the kitchen or simply a luxury. Don’t select cheap materials and products, but also avoid the highest end items and features.

Kitchen Features to Focus On


Natural stone or quartz countertops are safe selections for increased kitchen value. It is important to never compromise on quality when it comes to your kitchen’s countertops. Select colors and patterns that complement your cabinets and wall colors.


When it it comes to your kitchen, functionality, space, and convenience are important factors homebuyers consider. Implement smart accessories such as pull-out pantries, extra drawers, or corner shelving.


A small change in lighting can change the entire look of your kitchen, enhancing the appeal and ambiance of the room. Additionally, under-cabinet lights can illuminate the workspace countertops. A vintage-style chandelier will give a classic feel to your cooking area.


Replacing all of your kitchen appliances is highly expensive. A more cost-friendly alternative is giving them a facelift. Order new doors or face panels for a cohesive look. Stainless steel skin covers are available for refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, and other kitchen appliances. Use these to upgrade the look of your kitchen.

Kitchen backsplash behind kitchen sink


One of the simplest ways to increase the value of your kitchen is by painting or refinishing the walls. Consider bright, inviting colors such as white, ivory, or gray. Color accents can easily be tied in with accessories and appliances. Be mindful of personal color preferences, as they could be a deterrent to prospective buyers.

A kitchen backsplash is the focal point of the room. Select an eye-catching backsplash with materials such as wood, metal, glass, or ceramic tile to add texture to the area.

As a general rule, keep the overall cost of kitchen renovations under 15% of the home’s value in order to receive the maximum return on investment. Minor updates can add immediate value to your kitchen. If you are getting ready to sell or receive a home appraisal, consider these simple changes.


Definitive Valuations is North Alabama’s premiere appraisal firm. Our mission is to provide superior valuation and consulting services in Huntsville, Alabama, and surrounding areas. Our staff strives to understand your needs and to provide the best solution for your situation – whether for financial planning, relocation, tax dispute, legal matters, pre-listing, or any other purposes. Discover more here.