You have selected a wonderful neighborhood to buy in. I lived here for about eight years before I got married. I used to be the neighborhood distributor of the Hyde Park Newsletter. This is close in and a friendly walkable neighborhood.
You should speak with a local realtor to get comparable properties pricing. Ask them for a CMA and it will show what has sold recently in the neighborhood that is similar to your subject property. It should have a breakdown showing the price per square foot, list price, and actual sold price as well as the number of days it was listed for sale. This should give you a clear picture of the actual value of the home in question. Just make sure the comps are very close in proxemity to the home and of similar size, age and condition.
I wish you the best of luck and call me if I can be of service!
First, it helps you make a competitive offer that's not likely to be countered by the seller. It's hard for a seller to counter your offer if they are looking an independent appraisal which supports your offer.
Second, an initial appraisal helps you to see how long other homes have been on the market. The longer the better--as a seller is more anxious to sell. A seller whose home has been on the market for 120 days may willing to lower their sales price than someone who just listed it.
Third, when the appraisal is done upfront it helps your mortgage process to go more smoothly. Whenever I help a client get a mortgage or refinance we are sorta "guessing" at the value until we have the appraisal back.
Hope this helps!
Austin A Plus Homes Team / Keller Williams Realty