Does a Messy House Affect an Appraisal?

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Appraisers are taught to look past the tidiness of a property they are evaluating. However, in some situations mess can create more problems than just making a house look bad.

To find out what kind of mess can lower the appraisal estimate and in what situations, we at Real Estate Bees reached out to professional real estate appraisers with the question “does a messy house affect an appraisal?”

And here is what the experts told us.


Advice from 7 Experienced Real Estate Appraisers

#1 Doug Walker, Owner/Appraiser, Appraisal Works

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Doug Walker Property Appraiser

“Mess” means different things to different people. We were recently at a property that has several old trailers, appliances, etc. just strung about the acreage. It’s going to cost $12,000 to clear the property of the debris. Most market participants wouldn’t consider buying the property at all.

Offensive odors such as cat urine can not easily be removed. Damage by pets including stains on the carpet and destroyed woodwork are things an appraiser considers. These are considered in relation to other homes with similar issues or in terms of a cost to cure the defects and return the dwelling to an acceptable condition.

Hoarder style mountains of garbage cause a different scenario. If the appraisal is for a mortgage, the appraisal is usually cancelled after a call to the lender.

If the appraisal is for a non lending use, then the appraiser needs to be very careful in proceeding. He or she must make an extraordinary assumption about the soundness of the structure and the finish material of the floors and trim.

It’s hard to tell much about a floor if you cannot see it. In some extreme cases, the dwelling may be beyond saving and would require razing.


#2 Thomas L. Francis, Jr., Real Property Analysts, Inc.

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Thomas Francis Jr Property Appraiser

It depends if you’re referencing a ‘hoarder’ house with so much personal property that an appraisal report in many cases has to be made subject to an ‘extraordinary assumption’ in reference to the physical aspects of the home that can’t be readily observed by the appraiser.

Also, there could be health hazards such as mold that exists from waste and garbage within the dwelling. These types of conditions have an adverse impact on both marketability and value.

In a less extreme case, say just messy house-keeping, these aspects are not judged by an appraiser. We are able to look past these types of messes and value the real property on its own merits, based on more important factors.

An example of pet odors, pet feces, or any offensive odors, these conditions do impact the marketability and value of a home.

In conclusion, in all these varying cases the ‘cost to cure’ is the initial basis for determining the impact on value. But remember, in extreme cases a property can become ‘stigmatized’ within its market. This can further impact the marketability and value by an additional factor (discount).


#3 Marlene Chaker, Founder & CEO, and Wassim Chaker, Vice President, AAA AMC

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Marlene Chaker & Wassim Chaker Property Appraisers

Whatever the source is, “mess” has a negative effect on value. The typical real estate buyer does not seek out messy houses. They are looking for neat clean houses without potential problems.

Conversely, real estate investors do consider purchasing messy houses. But, they do so only if that messy house comes at a bargain price that allows them to clean up and renovate the property and sell at a profit.

That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone reading this since HGTV has been making celebrities of investors that do this for years.


#4 Christopher Bourland, Principal, JB Real Estate Valuation & Advisory, LLC

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Christopher Bourland Property Appraiser

An appraiser does not focus on personal property items during the process, so homeowners should not make any special efforts to organize their house prior to the appraiser’s visit.

However, issues of cleanliness can affect the overall condition of a property. For example, discolored floor coverings can have an impact on value.


#5 Evan Himel, Principal, Chief Appraiser, Evan Himel, LLC – Real Estate Appraisal & Consulting

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Evan Himel Real Estate Appraiser

We are trained to look past general messes. If certain things result in damage that are a cause for repair, then those items would be accounted for within a condition adjustment or a cost to cure deferred maintenance.


#6 Eric Orme, Principal, ESO Real Estate Services, LLC

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Eric Orme Property Appraiser

Extensive garbage, and odors that could not easily be removed can cause value issues and extended marketing times.


Where to Find a Good Property Appraiser in Your Area?

So does cleanliness affect a home appraisal? The short answer is: no, as long as the mess doesn’t hurt the physical condition of the property. And it’s important that the appraiser assessing your home know how to determine this.

To help you find a professional appraiser able to find the fair market value of your property despite the mess, we’ve put much time and effort to create a national directory that lists the best residential and commercial property appraisers near you.

All professionals listed in our directory are screened according to our quality standards. Browse the top-rated real estate appraisal companies and select the best service provider for your needs.


If you too want to contribute your expert advice on a topic of your expertise, feel free to apply to our Expert Contributor Program.


About the Author

Kristina Morales is a REALTOR® with over 20 years of professional experience. She actively practices real estate in Ohio but also has practiced real estate in California and Texas. Conducting her real estate business in three states has allowed her to gain unique experiences that make her a well-rounded realtor. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and her MBA with a concentration in Banking and Finance. Prior to real estate, Kristina had an extensive corporate career in banking and treasury. She ended her finance career as an Assistant Treasurer at a publicly traded oil & gas company in Houston, TX.

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