When you want to set the asking price for your home you can either have the bank appraise it, have your real estate agent help you, or both. Regardless, arriving at an accurate price is absolutely vital. Too high and you'll easily price yourself out of the market, too low and you'll get less than you could have. Your real estate agent can provide you with a comparative market analysis that will provide you with very accurate information in regards as to where you should price your home. However, if you want something a little more in-depth, an appraisal couldn't hurt as well.
The first step in getting your home appraised is – finding an appraiser! An appraiser isn't necessarily going to be a know-it-all home-pricing guru, but they are trained analysts that will collect a variety of data on the home and be able to put it all together and arrive at the home's value.
The appraiser's visit can take anywhere from 30-minutes to a couple hours, depending on the size of the home and which – if any – issues they encounter during the appraisal process. They'll record the floor plan, record any improvements made to the home, measure the outside of the home, and will probably ask some questions. Then, they will utilize statistics that can be found in public records and listing services to find similar homes to yours that have recently closed.
The appraiser will then compare your home to the homes they've researched, making sure to take into account the age of the homes, numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, any improvements made to the home and issues that may require work. The appraiser will add and subtract value to the home as they go through the comparing process until they finally arrive at the market value of your home.
It's important to note that the value of anything, no matter how well it has been scrutinized and analyzed, is ultimately going to be what people are willing to pay for it. As such, it can be possible to get a little more (or a little less) than market value even after it has been appraised.