Does a messy house affect an appraisal?

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When you need to have your home appraised for various reasons such as a loan application, or is planning to sell your home in the near future, there are many things you will need to do and keep in mind for the process to be smoother and easier to complete. Although the entire weight of the procedure does not rely only on the owners, they are often the ones who are extremely nervous about the process. 

It is no secret how appraisals can be a huge source of stress for property owners, as most would not know what to expect and what to prepare. When an appraisal is ordered either by the owner or a lender (when the owner is applying for a loan or mortgage), a professional called an “appraiser” will visit the property for an inspection. This will help them determine, along with other important data, how much your house is worth in the current market.

There are many owners who want to be prepared before the date of the inspection, as they would want to make the result of the appraisal favorable for their needs. When an owner is selling, it is understandable that they would want a higher appraisal value. Because of this, it is common for them to ask questions such as what factors can affect the appraisal value of their homes and if they would need to clean up before the inspection. 

Will a dirty and unorganized house affect its appraisal value?

One of the concerns of most property owners is the cleanliness and organization of their home at the time of the appraisal, and if it would affect their property’s appraisal value. The answer to this would be a 50/50, meaning, there is a 50% chance that an unorganized and dirty house can affect the value of your home, and there is also another 50% chance that it will not. 







A messy house WILL NOT affect the appraisal if:

The “mess” is only a result of the dwellers’ daily living situation.

Appraisals are done by experts called appraisers. When the appraisal is requested due to loan reasons, it is common for the lender to get their appraiser, as they will need to know that the appraiser has the necessary credentials for them to arrive at a price that is accurate and fair to the property that was assessed. Owners can also get an independent appraiser if they want to know the worth of their property for selling reasons, and may opt to hire another for a second opinion once they do not agree with the first assessment’s results. 

An appraiser cannot be just any other person. Most states in the U.S. require appraisers to pass an examination along with other terms before they can practice in the area that they want. Appraisers are third-party workers – which would mean that they are not affiliated with either the lender or the owner, and will do their assessment and arrive at a conclusion in an unbiased manner.

An appraiser is trained to be professional, which is why a messy home due to normal, day-to-day circumstances, will not affect your home’s appraisal value. This is because they understand that many owners do not have the time to clean up or may be too busy with other important things such as work, taking care of the family, business, and other stuff that they do not have the capacity to organize their surroundings to get ready for the assessment. 

Some of the mess that will not affect your home’s appraisal value:

  1. Unwashed dishes and kitchenware
  2. Unmade bed
  3. Unwashed laundry
  4. Scattered clothes, toys, and various small stuff
  5. Disorganized closets

Appraisers are humans too, and they understand how life can be too much sometimes. This is why they are trained to overlook the mess that is a part of a family’s day-to-day living.

A messy house WILL affect the appraisal if:

The “mess” is a result of frequent abuse, hoarding, and extreme filth or grime

Although appraisers are professionals who are trained to overlook the mess caused by normal living situations and do not let it affect their calculations, extreme filth and grime is an entirely different issue that can certainly be a factor that can lower down your property’s appraisal value. This is because appraisers would also have to put themselves in a buyer’s shoes, because after all, they are assessing how much would your property be worth in the current market. 

Let us put it this way: you are in a grocery store, and you see two avocados. One is dusty and has some bruises, while the other is clean and shiny. Which one would you get? Exactly. When your appraiser is inspecting your home, they will think, “Is the home attractive for a buyer?” “Will anyone want to buy this property?” “Will a family want to stay here?” If a home is extremely messy, the answers to these questions will be negative, and it will surely affect the results of your appraisal.

Some of the mess that will certainly affect your home’s appraisal value:

  1. Bad odors
  2. Smoke and ashes from cigarettes
  3. Animal poop and/or urine stains
  4. Carpet stains
  5. Piles of hoarded stuff

When some people are surprised that mess can actually affect their home’s appraisal value, they may be offended or may think that this is a bias or unnecessary judgment in their way of living from the appraiser, but we can assure you that this is not the case. The reason why extreme mess, filth, and grime can affect your property’s appraisal value is that this can result in other issues with the home as well, such as molds, and other issues, particularly a pest infestation, which is a huge turn-off for buyers, making them stay away from your property. 

The mess from extreme reasons can also be a safety concern, which is why it will definitely affect the appraiser’s report. After all, who would want to spend their money to buy a home that may be infested with insects and pests? 

What about clutter?

Now that it is clear how mess may or may not affect the appraisal value of a property depending on how messy a home exactly is, let us talk about clutter. 

A group of various small or sometimes big things placed in a specific area is often called clutter. This can be anything from toys, letters, and some stuff that are not used but are left to collect dust. Although clutter is synonymous with untidiness, clutter can also be a collection of stuff that is intentionally placed by the owners, such as picture frames and other memorabilia. 

Having a minimalistic home will not yield a higher appraisal value from appraisers, which is why clutter is also treated as an “everyday mess” that is often disregarded by the professional assessors. However, clutter can be an issue if it will make it difficult for the appraiser to do the assessment on the day that was set for the inspection. This is often the case when the clutter is on the way of the appraiser, which will in turn make it hard for the inspector to do their job. When this happens, there may be some things that will not be taken into account, and this will affect the appraisal report.

There are also some instances when clutter is intentionally placed in areas where there are damages that owners want to hide from their appraiser. You would not want to do this, as it will make your appraiser look more carefully around your home, as they might think that you are covering some other issues as well. In cases where there are some broken fixtures or some parts in your home that are having some problems, it would be best to get them fixed as soon as possible, as it will definitely affect your home’s value. 

Extreme clutter can also make your appraiser wary, as it can be a potential home or hiding place for some pests such as mice and cockroaches. 

What negatively affects a home appraisal?


As mentioned above, it is generally favorable for most property owners to have a higher appraisal value for their home, especially when they are planning to sell or use it as collateral for their loans. 






Factors that will affect your home appraisal
  1. Unfinished home renovation projects

Before having your home appraised, it will be a great idea to have any unfinished projects in your home to be completed. Although this can be expensive especially for major projects and rebuilding, many experts recommend finishing your basement or having your home and its fixtures fixed before ordering an appraisal as it can bring down your home’s value at an alarming rate. This is because appraisers know that buyers do not want to get a home that is unfinished, as that would mean they would have to spend more. Buyers generally look for a home that is complete and is ready for occupancy, which would mean functional bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and garages. 

  1. Structural damages

Structural damages will absolutely affect the appraisal value of your home, which is why it would be best to have some repairs done before getting appraisal services. This is also very important for the appraiser, and they will spend most of their time in making sure that your property is still safe and secure for new owners to live in.  Have a contractor do an inspection of your home and let them look for the appearance of cracks, crumbling, or sagging around your property, especially if you live in areas that are prone to earthquakes and/or flooding. Make sure that the contractor your hiring is trusted and reliable, as you would not want subpar work that will instead decrease the value of your home.

The reason why structural damages are such a big deal when it comes to appraisal is that buyers want homes that will last for many years, and a crumbling, sagging, or cracking foundation or structure would mean that the home will not be safe to live in after just a few years, resulting in more money to be spent on repairs. 

  1. Unattractive interiors

Another factor that can negatively affect the appraisal value of your property is when your home has an unattractive interior. Although it is often said that beauty is subjective and is in the eye of the beholder, most buyers would still want to buy a home that would fit their style and preference. This is exactly why there are many homes that are still not sold after many years, as they may have a weird feature or gaudy sense of style that is not appealing to the general preference of buyers. 

For example, if we are comparing a home’s interior that is painted with white to one that is painted with flaming orange, the white home is more likely to be sold than the orange one as most buyers prefer a classic look. Before having a home appraised, changing paint colors and other areas in your interior to a theme that most people would like can raise the appraisal value of your property. 

  1. Insect and pest infestations

Insects and pest infestations are very issues problems that will certainly bring down the appraisal value of your home. In fact, if you are an owner who did not disclose that you have infestations on your property before selling it, you may be fined and sued by the new owners. Lying about them will not do you any good, which is why if you are planning to sell your property, spending the time and money to hire an exterminator is a requirement.

Most appraisers use a standard form during appraisals called the Fannie Mae form, and there is a part in the document where the appraisers are required to check and disclose if there is some evidence of infestations in the property, which can easily be seen by a trained eye. The most common infestations in a home can be from mice, termites, bed bugs, carpenter ants, and bees. Depending on the infestation, you may need to reschedule your appraisal if you already ordered one as it may take a longer time for the pests to be exterminated, especially if the problem is very serious and widespread to the point that the infestation is already damaging the property. 

  1. Personalized and customized renovations

It is not a secret how appraisals are considered an art and not an exact science, which is exactly why two appraisers may give you two entirely different values in their appraisal report. When your home is too personalized or customized, this may be favorable to you, but may be useless to another owner. When this happens, this can negatively affect the value of your home. 

One example of this is when you have customized your home for people who are differently-abled, as you or a member in your family may be one that you have found it necessary to install a ramp for easier access when using a wheelchair, and for the bathrooms to be fitted with support that will make it easier and safer for you or a member to do their business on their own. If an appraiser will assess your home based on the public’s general preference, most people would find these advancements an eyesore, or may be unnecessary for a family who has no member with different needs. 

Customizations can be a hit or miss, which is why it would be best to think carefully before doing one in your home, especially if you are planning to sell in the near future. 

  1. Unfavorable neighborhood location

When a buyer is looking for a house, they often tend to choose one that is near to a good school, malls and shops, and to the place they work. They would also want their new residence to be safe and have a lower crime rate, especially for people who have a family. Because of this, appraisers take the general preference of buyers into account when it comes to location. When your property is located in places that have a higher crime rate or are far from offices and commercial stores, it would be possible for your home’s appraisal value to be affected. 

  1. Unattractive landscape

Another important factor that will certainly affect the appraisal value of your home is its curve appeal. This is why most real estate professionals recommend investing in landscaping, as it is a project that is high in ROI or return of investment. This would mean that when you sell your property, there is a high chance that what you have spent on landscaping will not decrease and may even double (or triple) in worth after many years. 

One of the reasons why landscaping yields high in ROI is because it can take several years to grow out trees and shrubs, and a beautiful landscape at the time of appraisal would mean that it was properly maintained and cared for. Most buyers would want to buy a home that has a beautiful curb, and appraisers know this, resulting in an increased appraisal value. 

If your landscaping is considered unattractive or is inexistent, it will certainly be a reason why your home’s value will decrease.

How much would it cost to have your home appraised?

Appraisals generally cost around $200 to $600 depending on several factors such as how much square foot is your property, the type of your home, and how difficult it is for the appraiser to assess, as some may be hard to reach, will need a trip fee, or may be dangerous and risky. 

In terms of who pays for the appraiser, property owners would usually be the ones to take care of the cost, even if the appraisal report was ordered by the bank or private lender. 

How long does a home appraisal take?

Most appraisals can be finished in just a couple of hours, but this would depend on your home’s size and condition. Usually, you can get the appraisal report within a week, but this can take more, especially if the appraiser will need more time to look for other comparable and important data similar to your home. If the market is too busy, the appraisal may take even more time to finish. This is usually the case when there are many properties that are scheduled to be appraised at the moment or if there are many owners who are applying for a loan.  


We are happy to hear from you.  Contact us for any of your appraisal needs.  From residential to commercial, divorce to estate tax and trust, we do it all.

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