Category Archives: Updating Home

How to Get the Highest Value On Your Home Appraisal

Whether you are looking to refinance or sell your home, you are going to need a home appraisal.  How to get the highest value on your home appraisal?  You are going to need to prepare your home prior to the appraisal to maximize value.  By preparing your home before the appraisal not only maximizes value, it also ensures that the process is not jeopardized.  If your appraisal doesn’t go well, your refinance or sell may become more stressful than you could imagine and your deal might fall flat.

To best prepare for your appraisal, you are going to want to become familiar with the appraisal process.

(Click here to get help Understanding The Appraisal Process)

To Maximize Value Take a Fresh Look at Your Home

You will want to put your homes best face forward in order to obtain the best valuation of your home.  Before an appraisal, try to look at the interior and exterior of your home addressing any issues so that your house looks clean and well-kept.

Start with the outside of Your Home

If weather allows, mow and trim the lawn.  Address any broken fence areas, stairs, guard rails and down pipes.  Clear debris and trim plants from the walkways.

Next take a look at the exterior of your home.  Do you have any peeling paint, cracked or missing bricks?  Peeling paint is one of the big things appraisers looks at.  Peeling paint can quickly tie up FHA mortgages and sometimes even kill the loan.  It is absolutely worth your time and money to repaint any worn or damaged areas to avoid any hold ups.

Next take a look at the inside of your home

After you’ve addressed everything outside, enter your front door and get a look at everything through your appraisers eyes.  A clean and organized home projects a positive view and can increase the appraised value.  If your home needs some relativity-minor repairs, they may hurt your appraisal.  Fixing or replacing all non-functioning doors, torn screens, worn out carpet and basic plumbing and light fixtures may not cost you much time or effort and may make the difference between a higher condition rating.

Keep your appraiser’s comfort in mind

You don’t need to do anything special for your appraiser.  Just allow them to do their job efficiently and effectively.  Give them space to work, allowing them to complete their process without asking questions that distract and keeps them from focusing.  Questions are best kept for the end of the inspection once they have completed their process.  If you have a dog, lock them up to keep them from jumping or barking at them while working.  Again, your questions are welcome and the appraiser is happy to answer them after they have finished gathering the necessary information.

Keep track of all repairs or updates to your home

A new water heater, furnace, air conditioning unit, etc. might not be visible to the eye, point it out so that your appraiser is aware of it and can give you the credit for your updates.  Many people offer a printed list of the home repairs.  This is helpful and appreciated by your appraiser.

The bottom line is to get the most out of your appraisal without too much stress.  Appraisers are trained to be careful and fair in their inspections, you just want to make it as easy for them as possible to see the value.

Deferred Maintenance

Deferred Maintenance

Getting the Highest Value From Your Appraisal and Avoiding Deferred Maintenance

What is Deferred Maintenance?

Deferred Maintenance is neglecting to fix any worn or broken things in your home.

Generally speaking, allowing deferred maintenance in your home can decrease the value of your asset.  It may result in higher costs over time and in some cases, cause health and safety hazards.

How does Deferred Maintenance Impact My Home Appraisal?

Deferred maintenance can impact your home appraisal in a couple of different ways.  At one end of the spectrum, it can effect the value of your appraisal or sale.  At the other end of the spectrum, it can kill the possibility of your loan or home sale.

Properties must meet certain minimum standards before a lender will accept a loan.  If the deferred maintenance is significant enough, the mortgage company will ask for repairs or decline the loan.  If a buyer needs a loan and the lender will not accept the condition of your home – no sale.

Broken windows, water issues, electrical problems, and even peeling paint can delay the process and impact the loan acceptance.  Less significant items like, stained and worn carpet, missing baseboards, patchy paint, holes in the walls or ceilings, etc. can also have an impact on your appraisal process.  These items might not kill the deal but they won’t help.

Interior and Exterior Deferred Maintenance

Repairs can be found on both the interior and exterior and frankly anywhere on your property that has been neglected.  Fences, in disrepair may be considered a safety issue.  Broken hand rails and even peeling paint can all effect the condition of your home appraisal and impact the green light on your loan.

Deferred Maintenance and the Condition of Your Property

Today, an appraiser rates the condition of your home considering the deferred maintenance and the general condition of your property.  They do this by using a series of condition ratings numbered from one to six.  C1 is generally new construction.  C2 or C3 have few, if any, deferred maintenance or repair issues.  C4, C5 or C6 homes, have visual deferred maintenance and repair issues requiring sometimes significant attention.

Once your home has been assigned a condition rating, it is compared to other home conditions in the neighborhood.   If the condition of your neighborhood is generally above that of your home, the appraiser will make an adjustment down for the difference.  This is not necessarily what you want when trying to obtain a loan for maximum value.

Deferred maintenance further impacts your home when trying to sale.  Prospective buyers might not appreciate your worn out carpet or the paint job your friend tried to help you with.  The offers you receive might take repairs into consideration with the overall price offered.  This often costs you more then it might have to just fix it in the first place.

How to avoid Deferred Maintenance?

Keeping your home up to date, free of repairs and in general good condition not only helps you with your home appraisal and loan possibilities but it keeps you free for all transaction possibilities.  This allows for the highest asset appreciation, which in the end is good for everybody.

If you are in need of a real estate appraisal, it is a good idea to walk around the inside and outside of your home.  Look for anything you can easily repair prior to the inspection.  This saves you time and money and speeding the loan process for a smooth transaction.

Take a look at the following pictures to get an idea of what an appraiser sees as they enter a room.  Broken fences and windows, missing flooring and dirty carpet give you a less appealing view of the condition.  New flooring, windows, paint and fence gives an overall feeling of “pride of ownership” and thus a higher condition rating.




Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Make the Most of What You Already Have

Part 3:  Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors

We purchased a 1970’s home in 2011.  What does a 1970’s home have a lot of?  Oak . . . Oak cabinets in the kitchen and baths, oak banisters in the dinning and stairwell and of course oak floors.  The good news is these floors have a lot going for them.  They are real wood, good quality, thick and hearty, hardwood floors.

So, I couldn’t just tear them out and replace with my hearts desire.  But, in order to stay, they needed to be refinished!

My advice to you. . . hire a professional.  Sure you could save money doing it yourself but on this one it is worth hiring out.  The dustless hardwood refinishing guys are wonderful and that dustless vacuum sander is worth it.  I was pregnant during the process and smells and dust bothered me.  I had no issues with the dust when refinishing the floors, the stain fumes was another thing but not something you can get around.  We had a nice little stay-cation in our RV parked right in the driveway that made it easy, and very safe for pregnancy.

Other pros for hiring:

Time – Your time is cut in half with a professional – it will take you at least double the time or more to diy.

Cost – I was actually surprised at the professional cost.  Do your homework and get more than one quote.  This will save you money.  Also consider that your DIY time is also money and factor that in to the professional price.  Is what you might save worth the time and aggravation you will spend on the project?  Take into account trips to Home Depot or Lowe’s, errors and fix ups.  And factor in your chances of in the end, needing a professional to fix any errors or finish the job.

Look – When researching a DIY floor refinishing project I was told again and again to go light instead of dark.  It is said that the lighter look is easier to pull off by yourself vs a rich dark color.  Well, I wanted dark, I got dark.  And it looks awesome!

Odor – This also falls into the time category.  I was pregnant while we refinished our floors.  We had to be out of the house while they were finished.  If we had done the floors ourselves, we would have had to be out of the house for a longer period of time and I would have been exposed to harmful fumes while pregnant.  It was a quick and easy two night stay in our RV while the professional handled all the work and fumes.

Equipment – Chances are you don’t have all the equipment at your disposal and chances are you don’t have the knowledge or comfortability around the needed equipment.  There will be a fee for the rental of the equipment but there is also a chance that you may actually damage your floors with the equipment.  If you leave the drum sander in one area too long it can quickly create a dip in your flooring.  A professional knows and uses this equipment to make their living.

Dust – What I haven’t covered with dust yet is the fact that it will be everywhere if you DIY.  I have been told that even when you rent the vacuums, DIY’RS still end up with a lot of dust.

All in all, whether you go with a professional or do it yourself, refinishing your current hardwood adds value to your home and updates the look for prospective buyers, making it well worth your time and money!


before     IMG_0075







Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

Make the Most of What You Already Have

Part 2: Refinishing Cabinets

We refinished our hardwood floors and loved how much it transformed the feel of the home.  It brought a warmth to the place that we loved, but the dark wood next to our original honey oak cabinets looked odd.  The oak cabinets are good quality solid wood and the interior were upgraded with custom slide-outs and just like the floor I couldn’t justify pulling them out just because I didn’t like the “look”.  So began the search for just what to do with the cabinets.

The options of paint are endless and you would be surprised, how much refinishing kitchen cabinets, can update the look of your current kitchen, thus adding value to your home.  This Old House states:  “Often, minor improvements can yield major dividends. According to Remodeling magazine’s annual analysis of cost versus value, a kitchen “face-lift” — painting, refinishing surfaces, and upgrading appliances — will return more than a full redesign. The key to spending less is spending it wisely. “If you take $20,000 and spend it judiciously on a kitchen, you can make it look a million times better,” says Remodeling senior editor Jim Cory, who supervises the survey. “The design and product selection are key.””

This lead us to the decision to refinish the kitchen cabinets with paint and glaze.  We took it a step further and removed one of the cabinets to create a more current, open space, that flowed easily from kitchen to family room.

Our kitchen also has never had hardware on the cabinets.  Adding some custom hardware helped to finish the look and bring it all together and was a quick and low cost way to add value.


IMG_0075   IMG_0117


IMG_6476 IMG_6470

We love how it turned out and look forward to replacing the countertops!

New Countertops

Getting the Most Out of Your Money

New Countertops

When looking at investing money into your home, you want to get the most bang for your buck.  You want to put the least amount of money into your home and gain the most amount of money out by increasing the value of your home.  When doing this, you need to take a look at your immediate neighborhood.  What kind of upgrades will your neighborhood support?  Let’s take a look at your kitchen.  You could do several things yourself to increase the sweat equity of your home.  You also might want to look to a professional for other parts of your kitchen.  Looking at New Countertops?  This is where you can easily look at what your neighborhood values will support.  Do the homes around you typically have laminate, tile, granite, quartz, or other custom materials???  Find something you like, in your neighborhood value spectrum and hire out – the new countertops will be well worth the money spent and it will be a good selling point if you ever decide to move on.

Thinking of other updates?

Do the homes around you typically have:

  • custom upgraded kitchens
  • custom upgraded bathrooms
  • upgraded flooring
  • bonus garages
  • pools/spa
  • tennis courts
  • Etc???

You aren’t looking at your neighborhood to create the exact same look as everyone else you are looking to see what updates your neighborhood supports.  The biggest problem I see as an appraiser is people that over improve their home.  You don’t want to have a gold house in a bronze neighborhood – it does you no good, as the value of your home is only supported by the similar competing homes in your neighborhood.  If you have over-improved your property to the point that no one can compete it doesn’t add value but falls unfortunately under what is considered an over improvement and doesn’t return the money invested into an increased value of your home.

So what will your neighborhood support?

My current neighborhood has the entire spectrum of value.  It has historical original homes, and new custom rebuilds.  This makes it easy for me, as I can play with my updates and materials and create some unique costume features for my home – this in turn increases the value of my home, allowing me to recover my expenses.

Our previous home was located in a more moderate valued neighborhood.  It allowed for bonus features like additional oversized garages but the kitchen and bath updates were not over the top.

The point here, is know your neighborhood and plan your updates/remodel accordingly.

Most buyers look first at the condition and updates in the kitchen and baths.  These can be costly to redo but have an easier time adding value to the property.  A pool addition on the other hand rarely sees the return of investment.

Lets get back to new countertops as this is my most recent project.  I am currently looking at quartz.  Because my neighborhood is on the higher end of the spectrum, I really don’t want to waste my money on anything less.  Granite is a much cheaper option but is really not as durable as I want it to be and it doesn’t have the “Wow” factor it once did for a resale market.

My first advice to you on countertops is get a lot of quotes.  I was originally looking at new quartz counters for the kitchen and then a cheaper Carrera marble for the bathrooms.

I had 6 guys through my house with crazy high bids before I had a honest gentleman state, “You need two slabs for your kitchen and you can get your bathroom counters out of the two slabs as well, so you might as well go with the same material for all of your countertops.”  This was news to me!  “You pay for the entire slab, whether you use it or not, so you might as well use it,” said the guy.  Wow!!!  I can’t believe only one guy told me that.

Second words of advice: know the square footage needed for your project.  Looking back at the quotes, I had a lot of variation in the amount of sq. ft. needed for the kitchen.  Some guys were taking advantage, charging me for way more square footage then I needed.

Third, shop around for your materials.  I ended up finding a company that allowed me to purchase my materials on my own from CONTEMPO Tile, where I was able to get a discount and ship the material to them.  They fabricated the material and installed my counters for less then the bids with materials and labor provided and purchased from the same company.

If you are in the Utah County/Salt Lake County area give Peterson Woodworks a chance for your countertop business.  Again, they were great to work with, very honest, and very flexible with what materials you want to use.  They strive to make you happy with your project and I couldn’t say enough good about them!  Here is a link to their site if you want to check out other projects they have completed:


Our countertops dated the look of our kitchen and weren’t a selling point.  They looked like certs breath mints and had a big heat crack that kept spreading.

Here is a before:

IMG_6470 IMG_6475

We struggled with the color of the new countertops – light or dark?  We were set initially on dark but as time went on we switched to the whitest white we could get.



I love the crisp look of the white counters and white appliances.  The counters have updated the look and finished off the kitchen remodel.  Goodbye 90’s kitchen.