Interest rates may have been rising, but they are still invitingly low. As a consequence, some Leisure Village homeowners are looking to refinance their mortgages to lock in interest rates while they can. A key element in both refinancing and home sales is, of course, the formal appraisal. Most homeowners regard the appraisal process as a spectator activity: the appraiser comes, checks out the house, goes back to the office and writes up an appraisal. But, as with most of life’s endeavors, taking a proactive stance is more likely to garner the best results. When it comes to the appraisal, there are several factors that you do control. First — before you even call in the appraiser — prep the house. Now is the time to address any flaws that could materially affect the valuation. Next, be sure to select an appraisal company with local ties. Appraisers who live and work outside the area are typically more likely to render a conservative valuation. Having less familiarity with the neighborhoods breeds caution. An appraiser from Camarillo will be aware of the local amenities and attractions which make a property more desirable. If you have made significant improvements to the property, point them out to the appraiser. Organize evidence proving what you spent for each. If you can provide ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos, provide copies the appraiser can take with him. This is particularly important for improvements such as heating or cooling systems: they can add considerable value to an appraisal, but are difficult to see. Don’t leave it up to your appraiser to find comparables for your property – you (or me, if I am your agent) can provide the ones that tell the story you want it told. Comps are particularly important if you can find properties that have sold without an agent — the appraiser may not have access to these. It’s not unknown for an appraiser to accidentally miss one or two that are similar to your property and well priced. Why leave it to chance? For this and any other real estate questions, I’m always pleased to offer experienced guidance. Call me anytime!