Sellers often ask me if they should get their home appraised before putting it on the market. Here is my answer to that:
An appraisal is an expert estimation of the quality and price of the property. It is more detailed than the market analysis, which your Realtor will do. Typically, appraisals cost around $400. They are a good idea if you live in an unusual market, one where home values fluctuate a lot. Let's say you live in a neighborhood where homes range from $200,000 to $650,000. Then an up-front appraisal is a good idea. It will help Buyers to see the value in your home without questioning the overall market in your area.
On the other hand, if you live in a neighborhood where most of the homes are alike, similar in age and size, then an appraisal might not be necessary for you to have done up-front. Here, it's pretty safe to conclude that your home's value will be consistent with those around you.
Either way, once you have a contract on your home your Buyer will most likely be getting an appraisal done for the purpose of satisfying his loan. His mortgage lender will order an appraisal prior to closing, to make sure the contract price and condition are satisfactory for the new mortgage.
Ask your Realtor what they think you should do. A good agent will shoot straight with you and not spend your money unnecessarily!