Things That Can Hurt a Home Appraisal

Posted by Jenni Barnett on Monday, September 5th, 2022 at 11:57am.

As summer draws to a close, many homeowners are busy preparing their homes for sale. Are you among them? Selling now certainly makes sense. The housing market continues to favor sellers, with most listings pulling in plenty of competing offers.

Even with the persisting seller’s market, in order to maximize the sale price of your home, you’ll want to eliminate or fix anything that could potentially hurt your home appraisal. A high appraisal will ensure that you can earn top dollar for your home, while a low appraisal can cost you tens of thousands at closing.

Keep in mind that not all home renovation projects will yield a healthy ROI. It’s vital that you consult with your real estate agent to learn more about which recommended upgrades and repairs will be most likely to net a profit in your neighborhood. Your agent will have valuable first-hand experience negotiating with buyers just like those who will be competing to purchase your home.


First, let’s go through points appraisers commonly consider.

  • Are we in a pricing bubble, or are values likely to hold for several years?
  • Where is this home located?
  • What price(s) have comparable homes in this neighborhood sold for recently?
  • What is the age of this home?
  • Are the utilities electric or natural gas?
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms are in the home?
  • What is the size and condition of the garage?
  • Is there a basement?
  • If yes, is the basement finished or unfinished?
  • Is there an attic or other storage space?
  • How has this home been improved?

The following eight things will hurt a home appraisal in any market.

1.) Overgrown or Unfinished Landscaping

A front or back yard that’s thick with weeds, crabgrass, or overgrown bushes will instantly affect your appraisal, and so will a barren yard with no landscaping. Any buyer who encounters such a yard will understand that they’ll need to shell out a bundle of money for professional assistance, or will have to spend weekend after weekend laboring to create a decent looking yard.

Fix up your landscaping well in advance of listing your home. A well-kept yard will attract buyers and give you the competitive edge over poorly-landscaped homes in your area.

2.) Lackluster Curb Appeal

Curb appeal remains the cornerstone of snagging a qualified buyer’s attention. Take photos from across the street, then examine your home’s curb appeal as objectively as possible. What do you see? If you notice a sagging porch, rusty mailbox, shabby landscaping, a dented garage door, or peeling paint, your curb appeal needs an upgrade.

3.) Compromised Building Envelope

Your home’s weather stripping, insulation, roof, windows, and doors are all part of your building envelope. A building envelope that is compromised at any point will leave the home vulnerable to weather damage and hefty energy bills and thus detract from the joy of home ownership.

To award you the best possible value, an appraiser will want evidence that your home’s weather envelope is well-maintained. Have your receipts for completed work and paperwork from a recent home inspection ready to present to the appraiser when they arrive.

4.) Energy-Hogging Appliances and Systems

Is your HVAC system on its last legs? Perhaps your appliances were purchased over ten years ago? In either case, replace these appliances and systems with Energy Star-certified technology that will benefit the new homeowner and the environment. Today’s buyers are eager to conserve energy and save money, and appraisers will value your home accordingly.

5.) A Cluttered or Dirty Interior

Your home doesn’t have to be artificially staged for your appraiser, but do work diligently to clean, tidy, organize, and conceal your personal belongings as much as possible. When your interior is gleaming and uncluttered, buyers are much more likely to offer a high bid—and your appraiser knows it.

6.) An Unfinished Basement or Garage

A finished and furnished basement will boost your usable square footage and your room count, both of which are key in the appraisal process. A clean, tidy, freshly sheet rocked garage with a powerful, quiet, automatic door opener is something no homeowner wants to do without—so make sure your garage checks all of these boxes.

7.) Poor Lighting

Lighting that is too dim will make your home look dingy, while glaring fluorescents will create a cold, clinical feel irrespective of décor. Make sure your home’s lighting is sufficiently bright but choose a bulb temperature that’s warm and inviting.

At the same time, if your home’s lighting fixtures are old, or are the same cheap lighting fixtures you’d see in any standard rental, we strongly urge you to upgrade them before your appraisal. Lighting fixtures are relatively affordable and easy to install, but their impact on buyers is enormous.

8.) Outdated Kitchen and Bathrooms

If your kitchen and bathrooms are hopelessly outdated, your appraisal will be lower than that of a comparable, yet updated property. If undertaking a full remodel is out of the question, consider painting cabinets, replacing fixtures, and having new countertops installed. These projects are less invasive, more affordable, and highly effective at creating the appearance of a newer kitchen or bathrooms.


The appraisal process can be stressful for many homeowners. The result of your home’s appraisal will have a big impact on the listing price, which in turn can dictate the type of home you’ll be able to afford next. To ease your mind, we recommend working with your real estate agent well in advance of your target listing date. Your agent will counsel you on which updates or repairs are essential, which you can skip, and which will net you the largest return on your investment when it comes time for your home’s appraisal.

Are you searching for the perfect real estate agent for you? Start here. As representatives of the top local real estate company, our agents have an unmatched, in-depth understanding of the Middle Tennessee markets, and what buyers are looking for in a home. 

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