The first indication a buyer has of the home's value is the listing price. Most buyer's search for a home in a given range. With a list of homes in the range they qualify for they make their own determination of value based on their needs and comparison with other homes on the list. If they are really interested, they may ask their agent for 'comps'. In a comparative market analysis an agent will look at homes as similar as possible located near the home of interest that have sold recently - no more than a year ago and preferrably in the previous 6 months. They will also look at homes that are still on the market to see what the competition is.
This is NOT an appraisal and most Realtors are not licensed appraisers.
Appraisers, like members of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, subscribe to a code of ethics. The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)re: Look here for more information.
Unless you are paying cash you do not choose the appraiser. The appraisal will be ordered by your lender using an accepted selection process. You are entitled to a copy of the appraisal. You should give a copy to your agent when you receive it if the lender didn't.
Your contract may not be contingent on an appraisal at the contract sales price unless you specifically add it.
Copyright Paul Howard, All rights reserved.