What Appraisers and Inspectors Are Looking For in Your House

My husband and I are getting ready to move again. When we first got married, we had to move out of state to a place we really did know much about. This made it hard to figure out where the “good and bad” places to live were. Luckily, the realtor we worked with turned out to be very informative and honest. We knew we wanted a place in the country and had a price range we had to stick with. We ended up buying a modular house on 3 acer of land. We bought it for $75,000.

Over the years we watched the market in this area. Being that we live in Metropolis, IL, a small town at the very southern most end of IL, the real estate market is not too bad. A beautiful house you can buy here for $200,000 would cost $1.5 million in a place like Seattle, WA. So paying what we did for a 9 year old 3 bed, 2 bath, 2 car garage house with 3 rural acer of land was not bad at all. There were some little things that needed to be done to the house, but overall the house was in great condition.

Tip #1: Buy a fairly new house that does not need allot of structural work done to fix it. Unless you are planning to flip and invest lots of money into an older house, buy something that will be easy to resell with minimal work.

We have only lived at this house for about 3 and a half years, but in that time we have made simple updates that have allowed us to increase the value of this house.

Tip #2: If you are not planning on staying in your house more than a few more years, don’t waste money on over-the-top, top of the line updates. You will not get to appreciate the end result for much time and it will not increase the value of your house as much as you think it would. Basics and cost-efficient materials are key to getting your money’s worth out of it.

We are being relocated for my husband’s work, and in turn have had to deal with the company’s relocation process. The company requested 2 appraisals and 1 inspector to come out and evaluate our house. Here is some helpful information I can give on what the appraisers and inspectors are looking for. Not only are these helpful tips for people looking to sell their house in this area, but these can apply to almost anyone selling a house in a mid-range market.

What Appraisers Mainly Look For:
#1: Total Square Footage of the House. The more in the house the better. If you’re going to add on, make it worth the money and build a good sized room. Both appraisers did not even take our detached garage into consideration.

#2: Structural Updates. Big ones are roof, walls, floors, windows, plumbing, and decks or patios. The newer and more cost efficient, the better.

#3: Working Appliances. Both appraisers only asked if all the appliances were in working order. Just make sure they are in case they want to see it.

#4: Land. The more land, the better. If you can purchase more land for a good price after you buy a house, you might want to take advantage of that. You may be required to get an updated survey though.

Tip #3: Stay with the appraiser as much as you can. Make sure they know about all the updates you have made to the house. Tell them every little thing you can think of along with when you did it. Don’t tell them that you painted the rooms and fixed minor imperfections, they don’t care about that. Point out the big things. For us, I made sure both appraisers knew the roof was new and only 1 year old. We were “lucky” enough to have a bad wind storm blow off enough of our shingles that our insurance replaced the whole roof. I made sure they knew this, and that it was not due to water damage or leaking. I also made sure they knew we totally replaced AND expanded the deck two years ago. Now it is studier and will last for a long time to come. Even though they did not look in the garage, I made sure they knew we installed a wood burning stove and insulation 2 years ago.

What Inspectors Mainly Look For:
#1: Working Everything! Our inspector tested each outlet, appliance, sink, faucet, door…everything! Make sure your house is in safe working condition before they come out.

#2: Structural Damage. Inside and out, they will find something. Don’t worry about the little things, just watch out for big things like missing shingles, holes in the wall, water damage…etc.

#3: Plumbing. They will make sure your pipes do not leak under the house and sinks. Low water pressure is bad as well.

#4: Cleanliness of Furnace and Water Heater. They will take the face off of the water heater and furnace so they can get a good look at the functioning parts. Along with testing both the air and heat, they will make notes if the unit or filters are dirty.

#5: Attics, Basements, and Crawl Spaces. Don’t think they won’t get in them…they do. Watch for damage to insulation and dryness of the areas. The drier the better.

Tip #4: Stay with the inspector as much as you can. Tell them of all the updates as you do with the appraisers. Watch for what they are making notes on and if possible comment on how you know it is a problem are are going to try and fix it. You never know, they may note that in their report. This way you are aware of what is wrong and fix it before it brings down the offer on your house.

Tip #5: Be nice! Although it shouldn’t matter, if you’re mean to them they can get more picky in their report. Offer them help, a tour, or something to drink. This way they know you are not trying to hide anything and probably won’t be as picky.

The market of our area is slow right now. With the heat, kids going back to school, and the overall housing market being bad for sellers, we are at a slight disadvantage. People have looked at our house, but it has only been on the market for about 2 months. Currently, the average time for a house to sell in this area is between 6-12 months. Even with all these negatives, we are expected to end up making about 10,000 on this house, not including the equity we have in it. Not bad considering the little bit of work we had to put into it.

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