If you are in the process of refinancing your mortgage loan, your new mortgage lender may require an appraisal prior to approving your loan. Here is what you need to know about appraisals, including tips to help maximize the equity in your home.Your home’s appraisal is a written estimate of the market value of your property. Mortgage lenders use the appraisal to determine how much of a mortgage you qualify for. When you are refinancing your mortgage, the appraisal will also determine how much equity you own in your home. If you will be borrowing against this equity, the lender will most likely require that you pay for a new appraisal prior to approving your loan.The appraiser is a licensed professional that will do a market analysis of sale prices for similar properties in your neighborhood and evaluate the condition and amenities of your home. The appraisal will require a thorough inspection of your home inside and out.When you are refinancing your mortgage your goal is for the appraised value to be as high as possible. There are a number of improvements you can make to your home that will improve the appraised value of your home; however, don’t go overboard. New carpet and a coat of paint will go a long way to improve the appraised value. What you don’t want to do is purchase top of the line appliances; these purchases rarely give you enough of a boost in your home’s value to justify the expense. The best thing to do is make sure your home is up to snuff with your neighbors as far as the amenities and add-ons you invest in to improve your home’s value.When searching for a home appraiser, look for an experienced professional licensed in your area. Your realtor may be able to recommend a good one; if you are not able to find a recommendation try contacting the Appraisal Subcommittee. The ASC maintains a database you can access on their website to help you locate a licensed appraiser in your area. You can learn more about your mortgage and the appraisal of your home by registering for a free mortgage guidebook.