How to Get a Higher Appraisal
Most homeowners overestimate their home’s market value when they apply to refinance. Even if home prices where you live have bottomed out or are rising, one sale of a comparable property at a higher valuation does not a trend make, and your home’s valuation may be weighed down by other, lower comparables, including distressed sales. If comparable homes nearby will close soon for higher prices, you may want to wait to refinance.
Before the appraisal, clean and repair your house as best you can, so that the appraiser will rate its condition as favorably as possible. Prepare a file of comparables sold within the past six months that would justify a higher valuation for your home. Ask for help from a real estate agent, who will know why homes sold for more or less.
Neither you nor your lender can pick the appraiser. That’s the job of an appraisal management company, which assigns requests from the lender randomly. But some lenders work with smaller companies that tend to pay more and attract experienced local appraisers (ask your lender for details). Be at the appraisal and point out any upgrades since your home was last valued.
This article first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. For more help with your personal finances and investments, please subscribe to the magazine. It might be the best investment you ever make.