Do you know how your house stacks up to others in the area?

There's a lot of homework that goes into selling a house. While you can decide to sell and then put a sign in the yard, you're much better off examining comparable properties to know what your home is really worth.

Comparable properties or 'comps' are homes that are in your area and similar to yours. Through them, you'll learn which houses like yours have sold, the dollar amount that they sold for, how much time they spent on the market, which features are similar, and which ones are different.

Here's what you'll want to learn before you list your home for sale.

Check Pricing History of Homes for Sale

A house that's on the market doesn't tell you everything about its price. A property might go through several price changes before it's finally under contract. This information gives you clues about what the market is currently demanding in terms of pricing, location and amenities.

It's difficult to find information about price changes for houses that have already sold. You'll need to watch homes that are on the market now. Note the length of time they spend on the market and when or whether the price dropped before they sell.

Compare Home Features

Features such as remodeled kitchens and bathrooms are usually big selling points. So are the number of bedrooms and baths, as well as whether there's an attached garage. If your home has as many of these features as others on the market, you can reasonably expect to sell for a similar price.

Watch out for false value, though. For example, a swimming pool might not be as desirable in some areas as it is in others, which could make the house more difficult to sell. If it sits too long on the market, you might need to drop the price, making the pool a liability instead of a benefit.

You can do a lot of research online.

Look for Expired Listings

A house that sits on the market for a long time might need reevaluation and perhaps some work. When a house is taken off the market before it sells, there's probably an issue with its marketability at the asking price.

Watch for homes that go off the market and then re-enter at a later time. Note the features and the asking price to learn whether the owner decided to do some work to support the asking price or if the price was reduced. If the roof was 20 years old and it re-enters the market with a new roof, you'll have a better idea about what buyers are willing to buy.

Keep an Eye on the Market

In a seller's market, houses will sell faster and for more money than when it's a buyer's market. Generally speaking, few available homes for sale puts the odds in a seller's favor. But when the market is saturated with homes, there is more competition, which gives the buyer more bargaining power.

Watch the winter market in your area. Many people tend to think that when the landscape begins to green up, houses will look nicer and sell for more. Not so, says Realtor Magazine.   Because fewer people list their homes in winter, there is less competition. And homes for sale during the holidays do especially well.

When you visit a house in person, you get the whole picture.

Visit Homes for Sale

You can look through listings online, but that doesn't tell you everything about a house that's for sale. Seeing a house in person can give you a much better idea about the condition, amenities, and the location.

Listings online are isolated. But when you drive down the street, you'll see what the rest of the neighborhood looks like. That can be a plus or a minus, and factor into what the house eventually sells for.

Look for similar square footage, age, lot size and features or amenities when you source homes to use as a pricing gauge. For example, if your home is 2,000 sq. ft. and has 4 bedrooms, a home nearby with the same features might be a comp. However, if your home also has an acre of land, 4 baths and a brand new kitchen, another property that doesn't have those might not be the best model for pricing your house.

When you use eppraisal, most of the difficult work of pricing your home is done for you. Enter your property address and click a button, and you'll see the closest comps in your area. You'll see homes on the market and those that have recently sold. And you'll also see your home's estimate value and how it stacks up. When you're ready to start the process of selling your home, click here for free property valuation.