Ok, so you’ve made the decision to put your home up for sale or refinance your mortgage. After looking at websites like Zillow and Realtor.com, you have an idea of what your home is worth but feel it should appraise for much higher. The truth is that you’ll never have full control over what your home will appraise for, but you can take steps to increase your chance of pricing where you need to.

A property’s appraisal value is influenced by recent sales of similar properties and by current market trends. The home’s amenities, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, floor plan functionality, and square footage are also key factors in assessing the home’s value. The appraiser must do a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior and note any conditions that adversely affect the property’s value, such as needed repairs.

By preparing for the appraisal ahead of time, you’ll have a better chance of getting favorable results. After all, you want the most money for your home, right? Here are six simple ways to be sure that you get the best appraisal possible so you can enjoy all of the hard work you’ve put into your home.

  1. Be sure to have any safety equipment installed and working properly. These include smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and home security alarms, among other things.
  1. Clean & remove the any clutter. A clean home looks newer and more attractive to appraisers and buyers alike. Clear out the clutter. Wash down the walls and shampoo the carpet. Clean windows, shutters, and screens. Power wash decks, driveways and the exterior of your home.
  1. Pay attention to the yard. Mow your grass and trim your trees and shrubbery. Consider having dead trees removed, if possible, before your appraisal. Add some color with flowers, and in the winter, be sure to clear all ice and snow from walkways and driveways. Remove clutter from both the front and backyards, including stray toys, bicycles, and lawn furniture. Be sure to thoroughly weed flowerbeds and add mulch where applicable. Houses with high curb appeal receive better appraisals.
  1. Do some sprucing up. Install new light switch covers, shiny doorknobs or faucets. Replace old light bulbs to brighten a room. Repaint the walls and hang new curtains. Small things don’t add a lot in an appraisal, but they add up—and they also give the entire home the appearance of being modern and updated. Outdated décor can have a negative impact on an appraisal, while a more modern appearance can have a positive impact.
  1. Mind the $500 rule. Things like damaged tile floors, old wallpaper, a broken door, or an outdated bathroom vanity—usually take hits in $500 increments. As a general rule, it is safe to assume that small issues will take $500 hits in the total home value. If the appraiser finds several of these problem issues, the result can be thousands in lost home value. As a rule of thumb, fix problems immediately that would cost less than $500 to fix. This way you will recover that cost in your appraisal.
  1. Inform the home appraiser of any home improvements that have done on the home. Be sure to tell the appraiser about any improvements made in the home. New additions, replaced HVAC units, siding, gutters, a new roof, remodeled kitchens and updated bathrooms will all positively reflect on your appraisal.