Science & Nature

When You Should Hire a Home Appraiser

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Illustration for article titled When You Should Hire a Home Appraiser

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You might need to hire a home appraiser to set up your estate for inheritance, qualify for insurance, reduce property taxes, or to help you determine future improvements to your home. But what does an appraiser actually do, and what should you be looking for?

What is a home appraisal?

A home appraisal is an impartial valuation of a property’s worth at a given time from a licensed appraiser. A home appraisal will determine the value of your property will be based on its condition, the square footage, number of rooms, amenities (like having a pool), and recent sales of similar properties in the neighborhood. Per Investopedia, the appraiser must do a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior, and note any conditions that adversely affect the property’s value, including needed repairs.

How much should it cost?

Typically, the cost of an appraiser for a single-family home will range from $300 to $450, according to Bankrate, though that might vary depending on factors like home size, existing property value, where you live, and the level of detail involved in the appraisal. Larger homes will usually be more expensive—maybe $500 to $800, or more. That said, expect to pay for more for an appraisal of a home with extensive damages because those will require extra effort from the appraiser.

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What should you look for in an appraiser?

They should be licensed. The Appraisal Institute, an association of professional real estate appraisers, has a look-up tool for appraisers here. Find appraisers who are located in your state, as they’ll tend to have more familiarity with properties where you live. If you ever need to verify an appraiser’s license, you can do so using this state-by-state list of agencies here.

You’ll also want to ask potential appraisers about their experience, preferably a few years’ worth. If they aren’t that experienced, you can try to use that as leverage when they give you a quote for their costs.

However, before you agree to a quote and book a date for an appraisal, consider setting enough time aside to clean and declutter your home. recommends making any minor repairs or touch-ups that make your home appear worse than it is (e.g., like a running toilet, or walls that could use some fresh paint). You don’t have to go overboard—a few hundred bucks can go a long way.

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