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It’s every home seller’s worst nightmare: you have a dollar figure or range in mind about how much your home is worth. But when the appraisal comes in, it’s lower — a jaw-dropping amount lower — than what you expected. 

Receiving a low home appraisal happens more than one might think. But is the appraisal your final answer?

The simple answer is no. Home appraisals take a lot of details into account, so if you aren’t happy with your appraisal, there are a few things you can do next. Or even better, do these things before the appraiser pays a visit and get a good estimate the first time.

1. Stage Your Home

The lowest of the low-hanging fruit is simply to improve your home’s appearance. This ensures the appraiser can see your home’s full potential and not be distracted by clutter or defects. Go through your home and do a mass declutter. Remove furniture that doesn’t fit well. Clear out corners and pack up items that make your home appear full. You might even consider renting furniture or having it professionally decorated by a Kansas City staging service before you list it for sale. These are two great ways to avoid low home appraisals.

2. Sell Your House During Peak Times

Appraisers compare your home to homes that have recently sold in your area. In a hot real estate market, there are usually lots of Comparables (comps) to support this part of the appraisal. But if you live in a neighborhood where home sales are few and far between or if your local market is slow, then your appraiser won’t have a lot of comps to look at. In fact, your appraisal might turn out low because banks typically only look at comps that are less than three months old.

You can avoid this by choosing to sell your home when there’s enough market activity to get fair comparisons. Check to see the number of homes listed for sale in your area and how quickly they are selling. If possible, try to wait to list your home during busier periods of the year.

3. Remove Personal Items from the Home

Religious icons or materials, family photos, sports team memorabilia — anything personal that can indicate your race, religion, or lifestyle can lead to subconscious bias. It’s best to remove anything from the home that could pull focus from the home itself.

4. Share Details about the Home

In some cases, the appraiser that comes to your home will be an outsider, someone who does not live or work in the community. They may not know that your home is located in one of the most desirable school districts in Kansas City, or that the crime rate in your neighborhood is one of the lowest. They might not realize that you have made certain improvements to the home just by looking at it. That’s why it’s up to you to provide any information that could be helpful to your appraisal. 

Keep in mind that appraisers don’t really care about sentimental value. Rather, they want to look at tangible aspects that other buyers will consider valuable, too. Upgrades and improvements, data on comparable homes, and information about the surrounding area may all help you to get a higher appraisal. 

Putting a little work into your home before an appraisal can also help your case. Learn how UpSell helps you improve your listing.