The Ultimate Home Appraisal Checklist

Unlock the secrets to a home appraisal with our comprehensive checklist. Discover expert tips to enhance your property's value before the appraiser visits.

Real Estate
October 7, 2022
The Ultimate Home Appraisal Checklist

Need a home appraisal checklist? Keep reading for our helpful checklist full of tips and tricks.

The home-buying process can be many things. It can be the fulfillment of the so-called “American Dream,” the realization of a lifelong goal, and the milestone of all milestones. It can also be a foray into investing — potentially the only investing some Americans will ever do aside from a 401(k). Like many investments, a home’s value will likely change throughout the ownership period.

This change is important to note, as a home’s value impacts the homeowner whether they’re contemplating selling or not. For example, those looking to apply for a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit, or even a refinance will be limited by the home’s current value. If the value has gone up since the home was purchased, home equity increases proportionally; if it has decreased, so has your home equity. While this may be a simple sliding scale, the home appraisal process is far more complicated.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at the home appraisal process — and provide you with the ultimate home appraisal checklist to ensure you get the greatest return on your investment.

What Is a Home Appraisal?

If you take a precious gem to a jeweler — or a first-edition comic book to a hobby store — experts will conduct a thorough inspection as part of the appraisal process. Factors like inclusions and brilliance in the case of a gem, or creases and tears in the case of the comic book, will contribute to the appraised value of these items. A home appraisal is not dissimilar, as a home appraiser will look at the current market value, the amount of available inventory in the area, the home’s condition, the level of local urban development, and the going rate for comparable properties when calculating the appraisal price. If you’re wondering, “How long does an appraisal take,” make sure you factor in ample time for the entire process before you list your home on the market.  

Once a home has been appraised, homeowners have a clear idea of a fair asking price should they put their home on the market, which will limit the amount of time a home sits in limbo and ensure that sellers see returns on their investment.

Appraisal vs. Inspection

Home appraisals vs. home inspections can confuse some buyers, as the function of these two processes is largely similar. Whereas a home inspection focuses on a home’s condition, a home appraisal is centered more on the home’s value. With that said, the condition of a home will play a role in its valuation, and many components of a home inspection may carry over to the home appraisal process. Things like damaged or aging paint, an eroding foundation, a worn-down roof, and electrical issues which need immediate attention will have an impact on a home’s appraisal value, and should be addressed before an appraisal to maximize value. But more on that later!

What Will Fail a Home Inspection?

Technically, there is no “failing” a home appraisal. Rather, a “failed” appraisal is one where your home is not appraised for its full value (especially when this is due to factors within your control.). A home inspection, while also not graded on a “pass/fail” scale, may reveal things that need to be addressed before listing the home on the market. Likely, this will include issues about the home’s “liveable conditions” — things that impact the home’s safety and generally liveability. Faulty wiring, dangerous molds, the presence of lead paint, and extensive water damage might kill a deal should they show up during a home inspection.

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What a “Failed” Home Appraisal Looks Like

As mentioned above, the only failure when it comes to a home appraisal is the failure to recoup every dollar from your  investment property. Still, certain variables can limit a home’s appraisal value, including:

  • Slow sales in the area (neighborhood or city) for comparable homes
  • Reduced market activity as a result of the recession
  • Condition concerns revealed during the inspection

There is not much that homeowners can do about the market activity or the health of the economy, so ensuring that the home is in optimal condition before an appraisal is key. Replacing a roof, for example, can boost your home’s appraisal price — or even be the difference between a home sitting on the market or flying off of the (metaphorical) shelf. Taking action from a home maintenance checklist can help you ensure your home appraisal process is quick and efficient. 

What Appraisers Look For

So, what do home appraisers look for, exactly? Market values, while important to a home’s appraisal price, are far from the only thing that home appraisers look at when pricing a home. Let’s take a look at what home appraisers will be paying attention to in regards to the house itself.

What’s On the Outside

You’ve probably seen someone on an HGTV show talking about a home’s curb appeal, and TV home improvement personalities aren’t the only ones concerned with this detail. Home appraisers will want to take a close look at the home’s exterior to gauge its appraisal price and look for any potential hang-ups which could cause a sale to fall through. Things like the aforementioned aging roof and chipping paint may serve as demerits for a home appraisal, as will improper grading or poor drainage. It’s not all bad, however — large plots of land or value-adds like swimming pools, solar panels, and outdoor kitchens can positively impact the appraisal price.

What’s On the Inside

Inside the home, appraisers will comb through with a slightly finer tooth. Specifically, they’ll want to log the bedrooms, bathrooms, and extras (like a garage, gym, library, or office). Appraisers will also confirm that appliances are in working order. This is a great time to call out any additions or improvements you’ve made, as this may improve the final appraisal value. As a rule of thumb: Appraisals are typically done in increments of $500, so any improvements less than or equal to $500 are worth making.

So, how much does a home appraisal cost? The average home appraisal can cost between $300 to $400. Factors to consider include the mortgage, location, and property size. While the mortgage lender hires the appraiser, the buyer shoulders the cost of the property appraisal. 2

How Do I Prepare My House for an Appraisal?

Wondering how to increase home value? As you’ve probably realized by now, a home appraisal is not something you want to go into unprepared. Follow these steps to get your home in good condition and to, get as much out of your home appraisal as possible.

Check for Leaks and Water Damage

Leaks and water damage can not only decrease your home’s appraisal value but also prevent a sale. Homeowners financing through a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan will not be issued a home loan for properties with any signs of water damage. Therefore, water damage is definitely not something you want to be brought up during an appraisal.

Here is also where you can ensure your roof is free of leaks and make necessary replacements FHA loans stipulate that a leaky roof is also a non-starter, and even VA loans insist that roofs be in sound condition. New roofs aren’t cheap, but considering they could be the difference between a home selling or sitting, we’d say it’s a worthy investment.

Secure Fixtures and Railings

Home appraisers will also want to ensure a home is safe — part of their inquiry into the property’s “liveable conditions” — and they will look for potential hazards in the home. Things like wobbly wall-mounted fixtures and ceiling fans or rickety railings (indoor or outdoor) will raise major red flags with inspectors. In some cases, these fixes can be as simple as tightening some screws; in others, entire railings may need to be replaced. No matter the scale of the repair, however, make sure your house is safe to maximize both its appraisal value and your peace of mind.

Make Sure Utilities Are in Working Order

New appliances — like an air conditioner that blows ice-cold or a sparkling array of stainless kitchen equipment — can be major perks in the eyes of a home appraiser, but these appliances are worthless if your utilities aren’t in working order. As a part of your home appraisal checklist, therefore, you should ensure that all utilities are functioning properly. This includes air conditioning, electricity, and water but also extends to ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets.

Like leaks and water damage, working utilities can be the lynchpin to approval for both an FHA loan and a VA loan. So, to make sure that potential buyers have the best possible chance at getting financing for the purchase of your home, double-check that your utilities are up to par before scheduling an appraisal.

Look for Cracks, Gaps, and Drafts

As houses age, they settle. And as they settle, they may form small cracks that can turn into big ones if not taken care of quickly. While cracks do not always signify problems with the foundation, they’re not something appraisers want to see in a property. The same goes for gaps that expose floorboards or allow unwanted drafts, which can be detrimental to buyers seeking an FHA loan.

Don’t Over-Personalize

When you bought your home, did you look at the blank walls and empty rooms and think, “I can really see myself here”? If not, did you at least think the space “had potential”? Potential buyers will ask themselves if the home they’re looking at is one they can build a life in, and properties that are hyper-personalized will be much more challenging for buyers to make their own. Depersonalizing your space is one of the most common real estate tips used to attract potential buyers. 

Think about celebrity mansions with onsite golf courses, slides, and bowling alleys; in many cases, these homes are worth far less than the sum of their parts when they land on the market. Though your home may not be listing for $30 million, it will still benefit from having a timeless look that buyers can see themselves in 30 years from now.

Get the Most Out of Your Home

By leveraging the above checklist, you can be certain that you’ve done everything within your power to get the most out of your home. With that said, however, selling isn’t your only option — and Truehold’s Sale-Leaseback allows you to enjoy the rewards of their investments while continuing to live in the houses they’ve worked so hard to make a home.

Want to avoid the stress of working with a real estate agent, hosting open houses, and dealing with potential buyers—all while unlocking your home value and capitalizing on home equity? Our sale-leaseback may be just the option you've been searching for. 

To learn more about a residential Sale-Leaseback agreement and to maximize your return on investment, download our info kit today.


1. Zillow. How Much Value Does a New Roof Add? 

2. Home Advisor. How Much Does a Home Appraisal Cost?   

Lucas Grohn headshot
Written by
Lucas Grohn
Senior Manager of Sales at Truehold - A Thought-Leader in Real Estate
Lucas Grohn brings over a decade of real estate expertise to his role, where he guides a team dedicated to innovative sales strategies. Known for his thought leadership and diverse experience, from managing brokerage operations to training agents at top firms, Lucas covers a broad span of real estate content for Truehold.
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Truehold's blog is committed to delivering timely and pertinent insights in real estate and finance, purely for educational and informational purposes. Crafted by experts, our content is thoroughly reviewed to guarantee its accuracy and dependability. Although designed to enlighten and engage, our articles are not intended as financial advice and should not be the sole basis for financial decisions. Our stringent editorial practices ensure the integrity of our content, empowering our readers with valuable knowledge.

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