Establishing Value

The truth is it doesn’t really matter how much money you think your home is worth.  The person whose opinion matters is the home buyer who makes an offer. Pricing homes is part art and part science. It involves comparing similar properties, making adjustments for the differences among them, tracking market movements and taking stock of present inventory, all in an attempt to come up with a range of value, an educated opinion. This method is the same way an appraiser evaluates a home. And no two appraisals are ever exactly the same; however, they are generally close to each other. In other words, there is no hard and fast price tag to list your home. It’s only an educated guess and the market will dictate the price.

Factors in Your Home Appraisal

Paying someone several hundred dollars to tell you how much — or how little — your home is worth may not be the best part of selling a house, but having an appraiser review and record all of the upgrades and improvements you’ve made to your property can be rewarding. And when it comes time to sell, it would be great to set a price based on what you think your own home is worth, but the bank will likely want something more objective before it’s ready to match that price with a mortgage for a home buyer. And that’s where the appraiser comes in. He acts as a kind of middleman who assesses homes by their condition and by how they compare to other similar homes in the area. Though appraisers work off of checklists that measure real values in a property, they also have experience and training in raising or lowering the home price based on what home buyers want and on how sellers have cared for or neglected their properties.

The price your appraiser sets can make or break the sale of your home, so it is an extremely important step in the home sale — and buying — process. Maybe you can’t do anything about the Day-Glo green house next door or the plunging real estate market, but you can show off the love and care you’ve put into your home sweet home over the years. You might even want to consider making minor — or even major — changes to your home so you can get the most out of your appraisal, and ultimately, from a buyer.

Sitting Pretty

While the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) estimates a home value may increase as much as 15 percent if the landscaping gets a professional update, many home buyers don’t want the upkeep that comes with an expensive upgrade [source: ASLA]. An abundance of lush flora and fauna can add maintenance time for busy families, and while some gardening and yard work enthusiasts are in the market for an Eden of their own, others hope for nothing more than a small plot of neat, easy-to-mow land.

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