Should I Consider A Pre-Listing Appraisal Before Selling My Home?

A home appraiser explaining the process to a couple

A pre-listing appraisal involves obtaining a professional assessment of your property’s value before listing it for sale. This proactive approach helps ensure you set a competitive and accurate price for your home. While home value estimates and comparative market analyses (CMAs) are commonly used, a professional appraisal can be indispensable in certain situations. For example, if you’re selling your home without a real estate agent (FSBO) or if your property features unique aspects that demand expert assessment. This guide explores the importance and advantages of a pre-listing appraisal in selling your home effectively.

An appraiser talking to a client

Understanding Pre-Listing Appraisals

A pre-listing appraisal is an evaluation of your home’s value done before you put it up for sale. Unlike a buyer’s appraisal, which occurs after accepting an offer, this appraisal helps you set a realistic price right from the start.

Conducted by a licensed real estate appraiser, a pre-listing appraisal provides a professional assessment of your home’s fair market value. This appraisal can aid in setting a fair listing price and identifying factors that might affect your home’s worth.

A typical home appraisal report spans 10-20 pages and provides comprehensive details, including:

Subject Property Information: This section covers key aspects of your home, such as square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, recent renovations, overall condition, lot size, and its precise location.

Comparable Home Sales Data: It includes recent sale prices of similar homes in your area, typically sourced from the past three to six months. This data helps in determining your home’s market value.

Photos from the Appraiser’s Inspection: The report includes detailed images taken during the inspection, focusing on major components like the roof, HVAC system, and plumbing. These visuals provide insights into your home’s condition.

The cost of a pre-appraisal varies depending on factors such as your location, the size, condition, and age of your home.

The appraisal itself can take several hours, depending mainly on the size of your home. Afterward, it typically takes a few additional days to receive the finalized report.

A person installing a home for sale signage

Who Benefits Most from a Pre-Listing Appraisal?

Home sellers opting to go without an agent

Setting the right price can be a daunting task for FSBO sellers. Opting for a pre-listing appraisal can effectively minimize the risk of pricing your home incorrectly. This appraisal provides a professional evaluation of your home’s market value before you list it for sale, ensuring you start off on the right foot in the selling process.

Homes with uncertain values

Having an appraisal can be advantageous when negotiating with buyers who might propose a price below your home’s true worth.

Not every home fits neatly into the standard valuation methods like CMA reports or home value estimators. These tools heavily depend on recent comparable sales, known as “comps,” which aren’t always readily available for every property.

Appraisers specialize in valuing homes, especially in areas with limited comparable sales. Unlike real estate agents, who handle a wide range of tasks, appraisers focus solely on property valuation and undergo specialized training in this field.

For instance, an appraiser can assess the value of a rural property by considering factors such as its square footage, lot size, and any additional structures like barns, sheds, or garages. Similarly, when appraising an investment property, they often use the income approach to determine its worth.

Appraisers also excel in valuing homes with distinctive characteristics, such as high-end kitchens and bathrooms, converted garages or attics, and second-story additions. Their expertise extends to accurately evaluating properties that deviate from the norm.

Sellers at odds with their agent

If you believe your real estate agent has significantly undervalued your home in a CMA report, seeking a pre-listing appraisal can offer an impartial, third-party assessment to validate or refute the valuation.

The main concern is that the appraised value could align with or even fall below your agent’s estimate, potentially resulting in wasted time and expenses.

Nevertheless, it might justify the risk if the appraisal identifies issues that could devalue your home. Addressing these concerns beforehand allows you to enhance your property’s value before listing it for sale.

A man using a laptop

How Pre-Listing Appraisals Work

Step 1: Scheduling the Appraisal

Your initial task is to locate and contact a licensed appraiser to schedule an appointment.

If you’re working with a real estate agent, they can assist you in connecting with appraisers in your area. Alternatively, if you’re not using an agent, you can search for certified appraisers on platforms like HomeAdvisor or through online directories.

Step 2: Home Inspection by the Appraiser

Next, the appraiser visits your home and conducts a thorough inspection, typically lasting one to two hours. During this time, they carefully examine both the interior and exterior of your property, assessing its overall condition and accurately measuring the square footage.

This is an ideal opportunity to highlight any significant upgrades, renovations, additions, or repairs that have been completed since you purchased the home.

The appraiser will also take numerous photos of your property. These photos aid in completing the appraisal report and selecting appropriate comparable home sales for accurate valuation.

Step 3: Waiting for the Completed Report

After inspecting your home, the appraiser spends several days compiling the appraisal report. This involves assessing your property in relation to recent sales prices of comparable properties in your neighborhood.

The timeframe for receiving the report can vary. Some appraisers may be busy or have longer processing times, so it could take at least a week or more before you receive the completed report.

Once the appraisal report is ready, the appraiser will typically contact you with instructions for payment. Upon payment, you’ll usually have access to view the report, which provides a detailed assessment of your home’s value based on their findings and market analysis.

Step 4: Downloading and Analyzing the Report

Once completed, you can usually download and view your appraisal report through email or a designated website.

Appraisal reports typically range from 20 to 25 pages in length. They include detailed information on recent comparable home sales, photographs of your property and its surroundings, and relevant neighborhood data.

Look for a summary page in the report, which will provide the appraised value of your home, the date of valuation, and a concise overview of the findings.

The appraiser’s contact information should be readily available in the report. Feel free to reach out to them via phone or email if you have any questions or require further clarification on the appraisal details.

An appraiser explaining the assessed value to a client

What Should I do if My Home Appraises Below the Expected Value?

If your home appraises lower than expected, you have a few options to consider:

  • Challenge the Appraisal: You can contest the appraiser’s opinion, but it’s essential to have valid reasons. For instance, if the appraiser made errors in calculating your home’s square footage, did not adequately consider recent upgrades or renovations, or used incorrect comparable home sales.
  • Seek a Second Opinion: If the appraiser maintains their valuation despite your challenge, you can consult with a real estate agent for a second opinion. Realtors often have local market expertise and can provide insights into your home’s value.
  • Get a New Appraisal: Depending on your budget and timeline, you may opt to hire a different appraiser for a fresh evaluation. This approach can provide a different perspective and potentially yield a higher valuation more aligned with your expectations.

Navigating a low appraisal involves careful consideration of your options and possibly seeking professional advice to ensure you receive a fair assessment of your home’s worth.

A client shaking hands with a real estate appraiser

Moving Forward: What to Do Next

Feeling prepared to take the next steps? Here’s your action plan:

Checking Your Online Home Value Estimate

Online home value estimators provide a quick and rough estimate of your property’s value using automated data from recent home sales. It’s a convenient starting point if you’re looking for a general idea of your home’s worth. These tools can offer valuable insights into current market trends and comparative property values in your area.

Reach out to a local home appraiser for expert guidance

A knowledgeable appraiser can help determine the most suitable approach for you—whether it’s scheduling a pre-listing appraisal, or seeking a broker’s price opinion. Our guide outlines how to locate a realtor who can provide a complimentary CMA report to assist you in understanding your home’s market value.

Ordering a Pre-Listing Appraisal

If your real estate agent recommends obtaining an appraisal before selling your home, they can typically provide you with several appraiser recommendations. If they don’t have suggestions, you can contact a mortgage lender for assistance or search for licensed appraisers in your local area. They can help you get started on scheduling an appraisal to accurately assess your home’s market value before listing it for sale.

Analyzing the Home Value Report

Whether you have a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) report, broker’s price opinion, or appraisal report, it’s essential to carefully review it to determine a fair listing price for your home. These reports can also highlight any factors that might be affecting your home’s value.

Consult with your real estate agent about whether making upgrades or renovations could enhance your home’s value before putting it on the market. They can provide valuable insights based on local market conditions and buyer preferences to help you make informed decisions.

Preparing to Sell Your Home

Follow these essential steps to successfully sell your house:

  • Evaluate Your Finances: Understand your current mortgage and financial situation.
  • Choose a Real Estate Agent: Select a trusted agent with local market expertise.
  • Set the Right Price: Utilize a CMA, broker’s price opinion, or appraisal to determine a competitive listing price.
  • Prepare Your Home: Declutter, clean thoroughly, and make necessary repairs to enhance appeal.
  • Stage Your Home: Arrange furniture and decor to showcase your home’s best features.
  • Take Professional Photos: Capture high-quality images to attract potential buyers online.
  • Market Your Property: Utilize online listings, social media, and traditional marketing channels.
  • Host Showings: Welcome prospective buyers and highlight key selling points during tours.
  • Review Offers: Evaluate offers with your agent and negotiate terms.
  • Complete Inspections: Address any issues that arise during buyer inspections.
  • Close the Sale: Work with your agent and legal professionals to finalize the transaction.
  • Move Out: Coordinate moving logistics and transfer ownership to the buyer.

By following these steps and preparing your home effectively, you can streamline the selling process and achieve a successful sale.


Considering a pre-listing appraisal before selling your home can be a strategic move to ensure you set the right price from the start. This professional assessment by a licensed appraiser offers valuable insights into your home’s market value, helping you avoid pricing pitfalls and potentially maximizing your sale price.

A pre-listing appraisal involves a thorough evaluation of your property’s key features, such as square footage, condition, and recent renovations. Unlike home value estimates or comparative market analyses (CMAs), which may not always capture your home’s unique aspects accurately, an appraisal provides a detailed, unbiased report tailored to your property.

For homeowners considering selling without a real estate agent or those with homes featuring distinctive qualities, such as historic charm or extensive upgrades, a pre-listing appraisal can be particularly beneficial. It offers a comprehensive view of your home’s worth based on recent comparable sales and thorough inspection, ensuring you have a solid foundation for pricing discussions with potential buyers.

Navigating the complexities of selling a home involves careful planning and informed decisions. Whether you’re preparing to list your home soon or exploring your options, consulting with a certified appraiser can provide clarity and confidence in your pricing strategy.

If you’re unsure about your home’s current market value or need accurate insights into its worth, consider scheduling a pre-listing appraisal today. This proactive approach could be the key to setting a competitive price and achieving a successful sale. Block Appraisals offers expert appraisal services tailored to your needs, ensuring you have the information necessary to make informed decisions about your property. Contact us today to get accurate insight into your home’s past or present property value with the help of a certified property appraisal expert, born and raised in the heart of NYC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it beneficial to have my house appraised before selling it?

Yes, having your house appraised before selling it can be highly beneficial. An appraisal provides you with an objective assessment of your home’s market value, which can help you set a competitive and realistic selling price. This can attract potential buyers who are reassured by the appraisal’s professional evaluation, potentially speeding up the selling process. Additionally, an appraisal can uncover any issues that might affect your home’s value, allowing you to address them proactively and maximize your selling price. Overall, a pre-sale appraisal empowers you with valuable information and confidence in your property’s worth, making it a strategic step towards a successful sale.

What impacts a home’s appraisal value negatively?

Factors that can reduce your home’s appraisal value include:

  1. A location where there are few recent home sales, often seen in slower real estate markets.
  2. An outdated home featuring older appliances and fixtures.
  3. A home that appears messy, dirty, or cluttered during the appraisal.
  4. Components that do not function properly, such as a broken HVAC system or a leaking roof.
  5. A floor plan that is considered undesirable or has an unusual layout.

Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to ensure a higher appraisal value. These include making necessary upgrades, renovations, and repairs (and providing documentation to the appraiser), as well as enhancing your home’s curb appeal.

Do homes typically appraise for more than the selling price?

A high appraisal indicates that an appraiser values a house higher than what a buyer has agreed to pay for it, whereas a low appraisal means the home’s value is assessed below its selling price.

A professional appraiser in his office

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