We recently refinanced our home and went through getting the house ready for an appraisal. We have lived in our house for almost 17 years now and have created so many memories in it and accumulated “stuff”. We used to have a vintage furniture rental company so we had accumulated even more stuff that we don’t use at all. They are all tucked away in the garage. Out of sight, out of mind. We have been decluttering inside the house so the garage has been piling up! From my previous experience in selling and refinancing our other properties before, making sure that the house is in tip top shape makes a lot of difference in securing a satisfactory appraisal. The good news is, we did get an very satisfactory appraisal. We believe that preparing and staging the house contributed to this positive outcome.
Below I share how we prepared/staged the house for the appraisal. We used all of our own furniture and accessories. All the collecting of vintage furniture came in handy. We dug into the garage for furniture that we could use. This reduced the stuff piled up in the garage and made the house look welcoming.
1. Clean inside and outside. If there was only one thing you do to prepare the house, it is to clean top to bottom, inside and out. When you have been in a house for years, there are things that you have left in places such as laundry room window sills or cleaning products under the laundry sink. Don’t forget the outside of the house. If you are like us, we tend to leave a lot of “crap” sitting next to the fence in the far back of the yard. These become eyesores eventually.
2. Make repairs. Although appraisers are not inspectors, they will still make a note on their appraisal report if they see things that are not in working order. If they see wood rot, they may recommend a pest inspection, for example. Ralph replaced busted bulbs in all of the bedrooms and bathrooms and kept them on during the appraisal. If you have fluorescent bulbs, make sure they actually turn on. Ours do work but it takes at least three days to do so after you flick the switch on! Today was not the day ours worked. Are there rotten wood around the house? Be sure to replace them and repaint it. Patch up leaks and replace wood with signs of leaks inside the garage and the house.
3. Good smell or no smell. I have a very sensitive nose so I notice scent everywhere I go. If you have ever been to our house after we have prepared a meal, you would have been met with the scent of Filipino food, some of which may not be enticing. It is best to welcome the appraiser without any scent. If you have to, bake cookies and get that yummy smell instead. I lit candles all over the house and made sure to empty all the trash the night before. Sometimes candles may not work because some are allergic to the scent. In this case, no scent is best.
4. Repaint walls. We had just repaired rotten wood and painted the outside of the house this summer. If you are going to paint, choose a neutral color. I used Sherwin Williams Alabaster White with 10 drops of black per gallon. It is a modified color that was best color of the year last year.
Over a year ago, we also painted the inside of the house and changed the home style into a farmhouse. You can check it out here.
5. Curb appeal to the max. First impressions are key. Ralph has done a great job at sprucing up our front yard. He has potted plants all over the place. If you have a dead spot on the front, put mulch over it and a couple of pots on it. This will instantly change up the curb appeal.
6. Don’t forget the driveway. We live in the unincorporated area of the county where lots are larger and subdivisions don’t have a homeowner’s association. It can be very easy to ignore darkening driveways. Pressure washing the driveway brightened the front of the house and made the entrance look welcoming.
Tucked in a little corner of the driveway I placed this small table and a couple of chairs. I love to place items in places where you will not expect to see them. This just adds to the overall look and says that you are welcome.
7. Pool. Don’t forget the pool area. Vacuum the pool and check the deck. Are there cracks? If so, go ahead and patch them up. We use EZ Patch 2 Pooldeck Repair. It is very easy to use. If there are places where landscaping is sparse, pour mulch over it and add a potted plant or two.
Covering the aged pool chairs with bright colored pillows drew the eyes to the pillow instead of the faded color on the chairs.
8. Stage it. Have you seen those TV shows where they stage the houses after they been remodeled and they command higher sale prices? Well, stage your homes to get higher appraised values. We staged the house like we were having a party. Yes, I set plates on several tables placed in strategic places all around the house and outside on the patio. We wanted the appraiser to see the potential of the property as well as the size of the yard. This also hides imperfections that you want to hide. In the backyard is our chicken coop. We decided not to move the coop because it would have been too big of a task. What we did instead was stage the area next to the coop like it was a living area where people can sit around and enjoy a meal or simply gather around the fire pit. In our covered patio, we staged it with a couple of dining areas, set with dishes and silver ware. Thanks to all our vintage furniture, plants, and table ware and decor, we did not have to spend on any of the staging. You don’t have to either. It is amazing what you can find around the house already. For our part, staging helped us clear some clutter inside the garage to somewhat show the large 2 car garage.
In the covered patio, I used a vintage wooden ladder and filled it with my collection of succulents. Our house is a modern farmhouse circa 2018! Signs are big right now so if you have them, strategically place them in your house. Use all available plants that you have. Thankfully our orchids are blooming so I used them where I could.
To fill in the area next to the chicken coop and cover up the part of the yard devoid of sod, I placed a table and set it up. I used our colorful vintage glassware to add the color that was missing. I also set up seating around the fire pit.
In the back covered patio, I set up two dining tables. This one was set up with a bar table behind it. And the other one, I just set up with a tray with a coffee pot and cups and saucers.
By our front door, we have a large wooden spool made into a table. It had become a potting table of late. We removed all the pots and cleaned it up. I added 4 vintage chairs and set up the place settings with cacti. Again, nothing fancy but went with our farmhouse style decor.
Don’t be afraid to mismatch furniture. If you can place some in the garage, do so. If not, just simply arrange them so that they look appealing to the eyes. As you can see below, we have different types and genre of furniture as well as colors! I really wish we didn’t have these red chairs but I couldn’t put them anywhere. To tone down the red I placed white pillows and this coordinated with our all white vintage sofa. Score!
Stage the pool area as well. In keeping with the theme that we were having a party at the house, I placed a vintage bar cart and filled it with food and drinks. Just a little touch but will show the appraiser that the house is well loved and lived in.
9. Details. To add to the warmth of the home and make it inviting, I placed cups and saucers with a muffin on our kitchen counter. In the bedroom, be sure to make the bed and put decorative pillows. I changed our bedside lamps and what a transformation this brought the place.
Place hand towels and soap in a basket to add to a simply decorated bathroom.
10. Prepare a list of all the improvements that you did on your property. I printed out a list of things that we had done or added to the house since we moved in. This will help the appraiser refer to them as she looks for comparable properties that have sold in the area.
Appraisers will take pictures of your home inside and out. You want your home to convey very well on pictures as it does in person.
If time and the finances allow, you may also do the following:
1. Update the kitchen. Change the cabinets and replace the countertops to granite or marble (these are big right now and very attractive to buyers for sure). If you have outdated appliances, consider changing them.
2. Update the floors. Do you have worn out carpets? Consider changing it to wood, laminate or tile floors.
3. Update bathrooms. Change up the vanity with granite counter tops and re-tile the shower. Update the lights and faucets.