I read an article recently that was reminded me of what real estate professionals already know - if you want a solid idea of where you stand in the marketplace, get an appraisal before you start marketing your home.
There are multiple reasons for this, but the most important in my opinion is to get an idea of what appraisers will be saying when someone makes an offer on your home. After all, the buyer is bringing his lender who is going to assign the file to his appraiser. The value that appraiser determines becomes gospel to the lender, and if his number is below the sales price, the seller has a rather large problem.
So, you can make an informed decision before you even list your property, and not waste time on the market hoping for a price that's not realistic. In fact, you may decide not to attempt to sell at all right now, and that's okay. Far better to make that determination, than to lanquish on the market for months on end.
Granted, two different appraisers will often give you two different numbers, but they won't be that far apart. And, when you have an appraisal in hand you have two weapons at your disposal. First, you have a certified appraisal you can show the buyer's appraiser and those tend to be taken seriously. Secondly, you have a current set of measurements you can utilize to advertise your square footage on MLS. This becomes important as most agents quote the tax square footage, which is often wrong, and when it is wrong, it's often lower.
An appraisal for a residence typically costs between $350 - $450. It's a solid investment.