When refinancing your mortgage, the lender will order an appraisal to determine if your property has enough value to secure the new loan that you’re about to take. Just like homebuying, an appraisal is one of the most crucial steps when refinancing.
It’s important that your home’s value at least matches the amount you wish to borrow. At this point, you hope that the appraiser would bring positive feedback on your home’s value for the lender to give you the green light. Although the appraisal process has changed, because of the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, appraisers still use the same criteria when appraising properties.
As someone planning to refinance, there are things you can do on your own and on a budget to get a favorable appraisal value of your home.
1. Improve your home’s curb appeal
Improving your home’s curb appeal is worth considering especially during these uncertain times of a pandemic because some appraisers would only evaluate your home through “drive-by” appraisals. An appraisal is a “drive-by” if the appraiser would only pull up his/her vehicle in the street at the front of your house and take pictures of (the front, the sides and up and down the street of) your home without getting out of the vehicle. Trim those shrubs and plant some colorful flowers on your front yard for a more vibrant look. Thoroughly clean your windows, roof, and gutters as well.
2. Give your home a coat of fresh paint
Unless your home is made of bricks, experts would advise repainting your home every 5 to 10 years depending on where you live. It’s another way of improving your home’s curb appeal. When repainting your home’s exterior, make sure to choose neutral colors to make it more pleasing to look at from afar. When buying paint, some homeowners bring a chip of dry paint to the paint store to get the exact color of their exterior.
3. Do the necessary repairs and replacements
Make sure to check that your front door and garage door are in good condition. Find out if you need to lubricate or tighten up the hinges. Indoors, make sure to repair any damaged floorings and plumbing. Replace any busted light bulbs inside your home. Keep in mind that while most appraisers have become limited in evaluating your home, they could require you to take a video tour of your home’s interior to get a better look at your home.
4. Declutter your home
Decluttering may not cost you anything, but it could be a difficult task if you find it hard to let go of all the rubbish you’ve amassed over the years. When decluttering, some homeowners follow organizing consultant, Marie Kondo’s advice: it’s time to toss if it no longer brings joy to your life. Try to find out if other people would need your unwanted things or put them in a garage sale.
5. Give details to all recent updates on your home
Appraisers may not get all the information they need in a virtual tour compared with in-person visits, and it could significantly affect how they would evaluate your home. During a virtual tour, try to give all the details to all recent updates you have made. If you’ve remodeled your kitchen and bathrooms, make sure you give details of your upgrades. Aside from giving brand names, you may want to have a tape measure ready during a virtual tour if the appraiser asks for measurements.
Always practice safety measures when working
If you’re capable of doing all the tips mentioned here, make sure that you practice safety measures all the time. Familiarize yourself with all the tools that you’re going to use and wear the right protective gear when working. Keep yourself hydrated and don’t forget to take short breaks when working. Consider hiring a contractor when in doubt.
Home appraisals in the time of COVID-19
Aside from “drive-by” and virtual tour appraisals, appraisers would also evaluate the home’s value through multiple listing information, third-party data, and other existing public records. Appraisal policies were recently relaxed to protect both appraisers and borrowers especially the elderly from catching the dreaded disease.
A home appraisal is one of the most important steps when refinancing your mortgage because your lender would like to determine if your home’s market value can secure the new loan amount that you’re about to take. With a few costs, there are ways you can improve your home if you want to get a favorable evaluation from your appraiser.