A home appraisal is a process through which an unbiased, licensed, third party real estate appraiser determines the fair market value of a home. An appraisal can confirm to you and your mortgage lender that the price you have agreed to pay for a home is fair. Further, because appraisals are also often used to determine property taxes, they are a requirement in most counties.
What Appraisers Look At
Appraisers look at the size, shape and topography of the lot, including easements and encroachments. An appraiser will also note amenities such as street utilities and vehicle access. Part of the evaluation process includes an opinion of whether the home’s characteristics are compatible with the market.
In an article from www.HomeLight.com by Valerie Kalfin (published 9.27.2021), appraisals are broken-down into the following four categories.
General property characteristics
- Size details: Square feet of the structure’s living area above grade, the number of rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms
- Garage and driveway: The number of cars the garage can house, detached or built-in, and driveway surface type
- Accessory dwelling unit: Whether zoning allows the ADU, how the ADU impacts the marketability or value of the property
- General qualitative assessment: Overall property condition, whether the home conforms with neighborhood standards
- Heating and cooling: System type and condition
- Floors: Material and condition
- Walls: Material and condition
- Trim: Material and condition
- Appliances: Presence of appliances, such as a refrigerator, range, oven, and dishwasher
- Energy-efficient features: Examples include energy efficiency certification, tankless water heaters, and insulated ducts
- Exterior walls: Material and condition
- Roof: Roof type, material, and condition
- Windows: Window type and presence of screens and insulation
- Outdoor amenities: Presence of pool, outdoor fireplace, or other amenities
Foundation and attic
- Foundation: Foundation type and condition
- Basement: Whether the basement is finished or unfinished
- Attic: Whether the attic is finished or unfinished
Improvements that add value and those that do not
Home appraisers look at home improvements, upgrades, and additions such as improved kitchens and bathrooms. These improvements tend to significantly impact the value of a home as do big ticket improvements (new roof, HVAC system).
On the other hand, features such as in-ground swimming pools and porches may not add much value. For example, while an in-ground swimming pool adds some value, it depreciates because of the upkeep/maintenance required. Anything moveable also does not lend value to a home, including sheds, microwaves, ceiling fans, and hot tubs. An appraiser’s rule of thumb… if it’s nailed down and you can’t take it out, then it’s considered part of the house.
According to RE/MAX Metro Estelia Mesimer, although appraisers are trained to ignore clutter, there are a few simple things homeowners can do to help improve the chances of a successful appraisal outcome.
- Have copies of important documents readily available such as your most current real estate tax bills, homeowner or condo documents and fees, etc.
- Make a list of the improvements you made. Include when they were done, the cost and warranties they go with them, etc.
- Fix minor repairs (broken window panes, leaky faucets, etc.).
- Clear away debris/clutter to provide easy access for an appraiser to examine areas such as attics and basements
The average cost of an appraisal in St. Petersburg, Florida is $284.27 fixed fee for a single family home or condo; with a range of $220.08 – $348.46.
Bottom Line: Appraisals are a win/win/win for sellers, buyers and lending institutions. An appraisal helps sellers to price their home fairly and competitively; for buyers it ensures that they are paying a fair market value, and for lenders, an appraisal provides them with sufficient proof that a home is valued at the proper level to approve a mortgage.
St. Petersburg Communities
If you’re interested in any of these of communities or live in one of them and are thinking of selling, call Estelia today at 727.686.2859
Greater Pinellas Point
Historic Old Northeast
Historic Roser Park
Isla del Sol