Ready to put your home up for sale? An appraisal should be one of your first steps. An appraisal is a comprehensive assessment of your property to help determine its value. This will help you and your real estate agent set the right price and get the best return for your investment.

But what exactly is a home appraisal? Here are some of the basic things to know about the appraisal process:

What Do Appraisals Cover?

An appraisal will evaluate the major, permanent features of your property. This includes property size in square footage, number of beds and bathrooms and whether you have bonus space like a basement or attic. An appraiser will also take a look at the overall property condition to identify any signs of deferred or avoided maintenance on major features.

Appraisals also include external features. Some examples of these features would be lot placement in your neighborhood, the lot size, driveway or garage space and zoning classification. Additions and updates like fencing, patios, decks and porches also factor into the appraisal.

Appraisals won’t include anything purely cosmetic or moveable. This would mean things like furniture and decor. However, if you have furniture arranged in a way that impedes accessibility or efficiency for the person conducting the appraisal, these items can work against you.

How Long Do Appraisals Take?

The time it takes to complete an appraisal depends on your home and the individual appraiser. You can expect a home appraisal visit to last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. However, there are more steps that must be accomplished behind the scenes for the entire process to take place. Including official requests, property research and the creation of the final report, the appraisal can take up to two weeks from start to finish.

To get the most out of your home appraisal and to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible, you can consult a real estate agent or a home inspector. Both will help you identify any issues or roadblocks to making sure your appraisal process is a success.