What Hurts A Home Appraisal?

Home appraiser talking to a client

Several unexpected factors can impact your home’s appraisal. These elements include the property’s location, size, condition, age, recent renovations, curb appeal, storage space, and the value of comparable homes in the area. Understanding these factors can help homeowners prepare for the appraisal process and take steps to ensure a fair valuation.

Appraiser engaged in paperwork for a home evaluation

Understanding Home Appraisals and Their Importance

A home appraisal is an assessment performed by a certified appraiser to determine a property’s fair market value. This evaluation involves inspecting the home and comparing it to similar properties in the area. Appraisals are crucial when purchasing or refinancing a home with a mortgage, as lenders rely on the appraisal to determine the loan amount.

A higher appraisal value benefits both the buyer and the lender by ensuring the loan amount accurately reflects the property’s worth. It protects the lender from significant financial losses if the homeowner defaults on the loan. Additionally, it reassures the buyer that they are making a sound investment at a fair price.

The Impact of Low and High Appraisals

  • Low Appraisal: A low appraisal can disrupt a home sale or refinance. If the appraisal is lower than the sale price, the buyer may not secure a sufficient loan to cover the cost of the home. This situation forces the buyer to either pay the difference out of pocket or renegotiate the price with the seller. In refinancing, a low appraisal might prevent the homeowner from borrowing against their equity, affecting their financial plans.
  • High Appraisal: A high appraisal can help a buyer secure the necessary loan and increase a homeowner’s equity. This boost in equity can be beneficial in cash-out refinancing or eliminating private mortgage insurance (PMI). However, homeowners should avoid over-borrowing based on a high appraisal to prevent future financial difficulties if property values decline.
Appraiser conducting a house tour with a client for appraisal purposes

Key Factors That Influence Home Appraisals

Appraisers consider various aspects of your home and compare it with similar homes in the area. The local real estate market significantly affects the appraisal value. A thriving market can drive up home values, resulting in a higher appraisal for your property.

Important factors that appraisers evaluate include:

  • Home Location: The neighborhood and proximity to amenities, schools, and transportation can influence the home’s value.
  • Land Size: Larger lots may increase the property value, especially in desirable areas.
  • Number of Bedrooms and Bathrooms: More bedrooms and bathrooms can add to the home’s value.
  • Square Footage: The total living space is a crucial factor in determining the home’s value.
  • Year Built: Newer homes or well-maintained older homes can have higher appraisals.
  • Curb Appeal: The home’s exterior appearance can impact the first impression and overall value.
  • Major Systems and Appliances: Updated plumbing, electrical, HVAC systems, and modern appliances can positively affect the appraisal.
  • Overall Condition of the Home: A well-maintained home is likely to receive a higher appraisal than one in poor condition.
Man repairing a drawer in a home being appraised

Common Issues That Can Lower Your Home Appraisal

Certain issues can negatively impact your home’s appraisal value. Being aware of these factors can help you prepare and avoid surprises during the appraisal process.

Unique or Rural Properties

Unique or rural homes can be challenging to appraise due to a lack of comparable properties. Appraisers may struggle to find similar homes to establish a value, leading to less precise estimates and potentially lower appraisals. Unique homes, by their nature, do not have many similar properties for comparison, making it difficult to assign a standard value. Rural homes often face the same issue due to fewer sales in the area.

Older Construction Materials

Homes built with older materials, like asbestos or lead-based paint, can be seen as hazardous and less energy-efficient. Even safe but outdated materials can affect the home’s value, especially if they need significant updates or repairs. Energy efficiency is a significant concern for modern buyers, and homes with old windows, doors, or insulation may be appraised lower due to higher potential energy costs.

Outdated Systems, Appliances, and Interiors

Outdated plumbing, electrical, HVAC systems, and appliances can reduce your home’s value. An outdated interior may not appeal to buyers, signaling potential neglect and hidden problems. Upgrading these systems and appliances can be costly, but it can significantly improve the home’s appraisal value. Homes with modern, energy-efficient systems and appliances are often valued higher.

Individual jotting down steps to avoid a low home appraisal

Steps to Prevent a Low Appraisal

While you can’t control everything about your home, there are measures you can take to help achieve a better appraisal:

  • Research the Market: Understand current market conditions and recent sale prices of similar homes in your area. This information will help you set realistic expectations and prepare for the appraisal.
  • Document Upgrades: Keep records and receipts of any home improvements to show the appraiser. Highlighting these upgrades can demonstrate the added value to your home.
  • Inspect Your Home: Identify and address any issues, especially with major systems and appliances, before the appraisal. Ensuring everything is in good working order can positively impact the appraisal.
  • Enhance Curb Appeal: Make a good first impression with a well-maintained exterior. Simple improvements like landscaping, painting, or cleaning can make a significant difference.
  • Depersonalize Your Home: Ensure your home decor appeals to a broad audience. Neutral decor helps potential buyers envision themselves in the space, which can positively influence the appraiser.
  • Declutter: A tidy home appears more spacious and well-cared-for. Removing clutter allows the appraiser to see the home’s features clearly and suggests that you maintain the property well.

Consult your real estate agent for additional tips and strategies to prepare for a home appraisal. They can provide expert advice tailored to your specific situation.


Q: What is a home appraisal?
A: A home appraisal is an evaluation by a certified appraiser to determine a property’s market value.

Q: Why is a home appraisal important?
A: It ensures that the loan amount reflects the home’s fair market value, protecting both the lender and the buyer.

Q: What factors can negatively affect a home appraisal?
A: Location, outdated systems, unique properties, and the condition of major systems and appliances can all impact the appraisal value.

Q: How can I improve my home appraisal?
A: Research the market, document upgrades, inspect and repair your home, improve curb appeal, depersonalize decor, and declutter.


Understanding the factors that influence home appraisals is crucial for homeowners looking to sell or refinance. Key elements include the home’s location, size, condition, and age, as well as recent upgrades and the local market. Being proactive by maintaining your home, making necessary updates, and enhancing its appeal can help ensure a favorable appraisal and a smoother transaction.

If you need accurate insight into your home’s current or past property value, contact Block Appraisals. Our certified professionals provide detailed and reliable appraisals, helping you make informed decisions whether you are selling, refinancing, or simply assessing your home’s worth. With extensive local market knowledge and experience, Block Appraisals ensures you get precise and trustworthy evaluations. Reach out today to schedule your appraisal.

A professional appraiser in his office

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