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How to Sell

A New York City Apartment

Nothing throws a deal into last-minute free fall than an appraisal that comes in too low. A low number spooks buyers and potentially upsets the loan-to-value ratio required by your buyer's mortgage lender -- meaning that either the buyer has to pony up more cash or you need to cut your price.

It's very difficult to challenge an appraisal once it's been reported to the lender, so you and your broker should be there doing everything you can to help the appraiser get it right:

  • Prepare a dossier of comparable sales in the building and neighborhood, which also details the condition of each apartment and compares it to yours. Don't expect the appraiser to know the neighborhood either; explain the benefits of your building's location and how your building is similar or different to others especially those with comparable sales.
  • Your information packet should also document any improvements to the apartment, building and neighborhood.
  • Fix small defects (loose or missing tiles, stained grout) beforehand. Freshly painted walls and ceilings give the impression that the apartment is well maintained.
  • Tidy up your apartment--make the beds, wash the windows, clear the counters. A mess indicates the apartment may not be maintained properly.
  • Don't hover. It betrays anxiety and may give the impression that something is wrong.