Home Value: Understand What Goes into It and How to Improve It

So, you’re thinking about selling your home? But, how do you know what it’s worth? Determining your home value will be the first step in making informed decisions leading up to and during the home sale process.

Understanding your home’s value will allow you to get the most for your house without scaring buyers away with a listing price that’s too high. Or even worse— you could leave money on the table with a listing price that’s too low. Once you know your home’s value, you can set your listing price and expectations accordingly. And, if your home value is not what you expected, you can improve it!

The easiest way to figure out your home’s value and navigate the home sale process is to work with a real estate agent. However, an appraisal is the definitive assessment of your home’s value. So, let’s look at what an appraisal is and how it works.

Home appraisals

The ultimate assessment of your home value is an appraisal, which is a licensed/certified appraiser’s unbiased, professional opinion of your home’s value. Appraisals generally cost between $300-450 and are paid for by the buyer.

Once you accept a buyer’s offer, their lender will order an appraisal to determine the risk of lending to that buyer. Lenders want to make sure the loan doesn’t exceed the home’s value in case the buyer defaults.

It’s important to understand your home value when pricing your home because lenders generally won’t approve a loan that’s higher than your home’s value. But getting an appraisal before selling isn’t recommended for many reasons. So, you’ll want to work with a licensed real estate agent who will help you determine your home’s value and the best listing price. A Realtor® will look at the same set of factors as an appraiser to determine the best list price of your home, so it’s important to know what goes into an appraisal.

understanding and improving home value before you sell

What goes into a home appraisal?

An appraiser considers a variety of different external and internal factors to determine your home’s value. The appraisal isn’t affected by cleaning and staging. Instead, they consider things that aren’t so easy to change — like location, structural integrity, and the size of your property.

External factors that influence your home value

Beginning with the outside of your home, appraisers will consider external features of your home and your community. This includes contextual data about local schools and nearby homes, as well as your home’s exterior features, condition, and lot size.

Comparable listings (comps)

One of the most important factors appraisers use to determine the value of your home is how much comparable homes have sold for recently. Appraisers look at the sales record of homes that are similar in age, size, construction, location, and more. Once appraisers have looked at a variety of recently sold homes, they’ll come up with a value range for your home. Appraisers use particular characteristics of your home (like modern appliances or dated flooring) to adjust the appraised home value up or down.

Along with comps and location, appraisers will look at local and national housing trends to determine your home value. Trends like housing inventory, whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, the current economic outlook, mortgage availability, interest rates, and more all affect how much your home is worth at that moment.

While these factors change over time, appraisers do consider the broader housing landscape when determining your home’s value.


Another external factor that appraisers consider is the location of your home. If you live in a neighborhood with poorly maintained houses, many of which are foreclosed or rented, it will hurt your appraisal.

However, being in a low crime area with good schools and walkability can increase your appraised home value. Living in a suburban area with easy access to a city can also help.

Structure and material quality

Structure and material quality are additional external factors that inform homes’ value. In terms of the structure, appraisers want to see that your home has a solid foundation and a good roof (that is preferably less than 20 years old). Appraisers will also look at your siding, gutters, windows, and doors to determine the quality of materials used. Finally, appraisers will look at the materials your house was built with, including siding, windows, and roof. Having modern materials (like energy-efficient windows) will increase your appraisal.

The final thing that appraisers look for in terms of the structure and materials of a home is damage. If your home has structural issues or damage from pests, it won’t appraise for as much as it would have without them.


The age of your home influences your appraisal, too. Homes built within the last 10 to 20 years are typically appraised at higher values. That’s because newer homes don’t have many of the risks that older homes do, like aging foundations and materials.

Curb appeal

One last external factor appraisers consider is your home’s curb appeal. Your curb appeal is what your home looks like from the curb. In other words: the first impression buyers and appraisers have of your home. As such, it can determine how much both buyers and appraisers think your home is worth before they even step inside.

Appraisers want to see attractive landscaping that is easy to maintain and won’t cause problems for your home. A large lot can also help improve your appraisal. But, if your home lacks curb appeal or has hazardous landscaping (like a tree that could fall on your home or poisonous shrubs), it will hurt your appraisal.

Maximizing external value

Some of the external values appraisers consider can be addressed. Things like landscaping and aging materials can be updated or replaced to maximize a home’s appraised value. Take a peek at the photos below to see the dramatic effects improved curb appeal can have. Ask your real estate agent to work with Curbio to make smart pre-listing home improvement decisions. You, your agent, and Curbio will work together to decide which home improvement projects are needed to increase your profit. Once the scope of work is agreed upon, Curbio will manage and execute the entire project, and the best part? Curbio defers all payment until closing — with no interest, fees, or credit checks — so you can increase your profit from the sale without worrying about freeing up cash for home improvements.


For the exterior of the home, we replaced the roof, painted the wood siding, installed a new entry door, and updated the overgrown landscaping.

See the full details of this pre-listing project.


For the exterior of the home, we replaced the roof, painted the wood siding, installed a new entry door, and updated the overgrown landscaping.

See the full details of this pre-listing project.

Internal factors that influence your home value

Of course, what’s inside your home also impacts an appraiser’s determination of your home value. Let’s take a look at the most important internal factors that influence an appraisal.

Square footage

One of the most decisive internal influencers of your home value is its size. How square footage is determined varies a bit state by state. In many cases, appraisers only count usable, above-ground space in their square footage. So, if you have a lot of wasted space (like many hallways) or a basement below ground, the legal square footage may not be as high as you think. Don’t worry — your real estate agent will know how to calculate square footage based on your area, so you don’t have to!

Bedrooms and bathrooms

There’s a reason bedrooms and bathrooms are features on listing previews. They’re a huge factor of consideration for home buyers, and as such, they have a significant impact on your home’s value. If your home has 3 bedrooms but most houses in your neighborhood have 4, your home won’t appraise for as high as the other homes in your area.

It’s important to note that non-conforming bedrooms won’t increase your appraisal. So, if you’re using a room in your basement as a bedroom but it doesn’t have the right windows, it won’t boost your appraised home value.

Interior condition

Another internal factor appraisers consider is the physical condition of your home. If your home has outdated materials (like carpet from the 80s) or has not been maintained well, your appraisal will be negatively affected. However, updating your home with modern materials and features will positively impact the appraised home value.

Your home’s systems (like HVAC) also affect your appraisal. Having a new system can increase your home’s value, while outdated systems that are less efficient will decrease it.

Code compliance

Appraisers want to see that everything in your home is up to code. While an inspector may address some code violations, they are not code enforcers. The main cause of code violations is DIY home improvement.


If you’ve recently renovated your home, it will probably increase your appraised home value. Renovations that improve the function of your home or add modern finishes increase your home value, too. On the other hand, outdated and worn-down materials detract from the appraised value of your home.


We gave this kitchen a full remodel by installing brand new cabinets, new flooring, a granite countertop, and stainless steel appliances.

See the full details of this pre-listing project.


We gave this kitchen a full remodel by installing brand new cabinets, new flooring, a granite countertop, and stainless steel appliances.

See the full details of this pre-listing project.

The factors within your control that improve home value

Understand the factors in your control and those beyond it. Location, housing trends, age, and lot size are things you can’t change. There are still factors that you’re able to control, like your home’s square footage, condition, materials, number of bedrooms, and curb appeal. Investing in these home improvements will yield the highest possible appraised value.

If your goal is to maximize your home sale value, Curbio can help with pre-listing home improvement. At the start of each projects, you’ll work with our team and your agent to prioritize the home improvement projects that have positive returns. Once we agree upon the scope of work, Curbio’s full-time, local project managers will handle and execute the entire project. Best, Curbio services aren’t due to be paid until closing and we never charge interest or additional fees. Our leading solutions help thousands of homeowners increase profits without upfront payment.

Are market value and appraised value the same?

The short answer is no. Your home’s market value is what a buyer is willing to pay for a property. The appraised value, however, is a professional appraiser’s opinion on what your home is worth.

Market value can be affected by factors that can change more frequently, while your appraisal is not so easily swayed. Factors like the sale price of recently sold homes, repairs & renovations, and market conditions affect market value. Of course, each buyer is different, but market value is based on what the average buyer will pay for your home.

Appraisals consider all of those factors, as well. The difference is that an appraisal is a professional assessment of your home’s value — not what buyers are willing to pay for it.

Your home’s market and appraised value should be similar. In some cases, the appraisal is higher than what buyers are willing to pay. In other scenarios, buyers might value your home above the appraised value — which sounds great but can cause some issues.

What happens if a buyer’s offer is more than the appraised value?

After you’ve accepted an offer, your buyer’s lender will order an appraisal. If the offer is higher than your home is appraised for, the buyer’s lender is unlikely to fund the full loan amount.

If your buyer is able, they can choose to make up the difference out of pocket. This is the best-case scenario for you because you’ll still get the full market value of your home.

If the buyer has an appraisal contingency for their offer, they may back out. If this happens, you’ll have to put your home back on the market, which will cost you time.

To avoid a buyer’s decision to back out, which will force you to re-list, you can negotiate the price and other concessions to meet somewhere in the middle. While renegotiating is a good option, it’s better to avoid this scenario by knowing your home’s value before listing it for sale.

How to determine your home value

There are a number to determine a ballpark number of your home’s appraised and market values.

Work with a real estate agent

The best way to figure out your home’s value is to work with an agent who will use data from the multiple listing service (MLS) and create a comparative market analysis (CMA).

Because of their experience, tools, and database access, real estate agents determine home values accurately and quickly. So, work with an agent if you want an accurate home value without hiring an appraiser.

Look at “comps” to determine home value

While we recommend working with a real estate agent to determine your home value and listing price, we know you may want to find information yourself. A popular way to roughly estimate your home’s value is to look at “comps,” or similar, recently sold homes in your neighborhood. Comps serve as guides in determining the value of your home.

To find comps, start with listing websites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, or Redfin. Perform searches and set the filters to show homes sold within the last 6-12 months that are similar to yours. Look for homes in the same location that are similar in size, number of bedrooms & bathrooms, age, condition, and upgrades & finishes.

Active listings aren’t helpful for comps because they show only what the seller hopes to get for their home and not what a buyer is willing to pay. Ideally, you should look at homes sold in the last 60 days, but that’s not always possible. So, you should look at the most recently sold homes you can find. From here, you can determine the average list price of comparable homes to approximate your home value.

Online home value estimators

The last way to discover your home value is to use online home value estimator tools. These tools pair info you provide with public records to estimate the current value of your home. While these tools are fast and free, they aren’t always accurate. With minimal information from you, these tools can’t account for all the specific features of your home.

As stated, our first recommendation to determine an accurate home value is to work with a real estate agent, who will counsel you on adding value to your home, too.

Need to improve your home value? Here’s how.

Have you determined your home’s value, but you want to increase it? Let’s get started. From basic repairs to extensive renovations, Curbio provides an incredible service to determine which home improvements will add the most value to your home. Then we provide dedicated project management, upfront financing, and timely completion of the work.

Because the outside of your home is the first thing buyers see, improving your curb appeal can increase the value of your home. Swap outdated carpet or damaged tile for hardwood floors or luxury vinyl tile — which buyers love. You should also update the finishes throughout your home to align with modern interior design and what buyers want.

If you want to take on a bigger renovation project, opening spaces by removing walls, updating kitchens, and remodeling bathrooms can significantly increase your home’s value. Learn the 5 home improvements every home needs before selling.


We removed the wood paneling in the living room and gave the whole home a fresh coat of paint.

See the full details of this project.


We removed the wood paneling in the living room and gave the whole home a fresh coat of paint.

See the full details of this project.

Add space

Increase your square footage as determined by an appraiser. Your home’s value will increase with more compliant, livable space. However, additions can be pricey and you may not see a full return on your investment. Make sure to discuss how an addition will impact your home’s sale price with a real estate agent before taking on large, costly projects.

Another way to add space and value is to make your living areas open-concept. While this doesn’t technically add new square footage, it will make your home feel more spacious. Plus, open-concept floor plans are in high-demand.

Address deferred maintenance

Anything in disrepair will deter buyers , most of whom want move-in ready homes. Prioritize electrical or plumbing issues. If you list your home for sale without making necessary repairs, buyers’ inspections will reveal these issues, and cost time and money down the road.

Improve energy efficiency

One last way to add value to your home is to make it more energy-efficient. Install insulating windows, doors, and siding and power-saving appliances like HVAC, toilets, and lighting. While energy-efficient materials and appliances can add value, many home buyers choose costly smart-tech that don’t always give home sellers positive returns. Partner with Curbio and a real estate agent you trust to create a dream team to maximize profits and sell quickly.

Improve your home value with Curbio

We’ve gone over a lot, so let’s sum it up!

When you sell your home, know your home value to ensure a successful home sale. An official appraisal is the best assessment, but costs money. We recommend selecting a real estate agent, who will provide the quickest, easiest, and most accurate home valuation as a standard pre-listing service.

Make home improvements with Curbio. Our renowned turn-key services and pay-at-closing model make pre-listing upgrades accessible. Are you ready to sell your home at its highest value? Tell us about your property for a free, same-day estimate.

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