One of the top factors in your home appraisal will be the local real estate market. Comparables tell the story of how other homes are selling, and they tell the history of purchase price and appreciation or depreciation of home values. As 2010 drew to a close, 23.2 percent of homeowners had homes worth less than their original mortgages [source: Ellis]. In 2009, that percentage was 21.8 percent so it's likely that your home could be worth less now than a year ago [source: Ellis]. Few areas of the country have seen growth in housing values, but buyers are still buying -- it is their market, after all -- and sellers still need to sell.
Maybe one of the biggest things to prepare when getting ready for a home appraisal is your heart. Putting both financial equity and sweat equity into your house and having to consider losing value isn't something to get excited about, but doing all you can to ensure a fair sale in the current market provides closure and the opportunity to settle into a new home with new hopes for seeing growth in years to come.
More tips for sprucing up a house inside and out follow on the next page.