Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

What is a CMA?

The best method available to home sellers to learn their home's current value so they can select the best sale price is a CMA, or Comparative Market Analysis. CMA is the term real estate agents use when they conduct an in-depth analysis of a home's worth in today's market. It is important to understand that market value is derived from recent comparable sale values. Other factors that should be considered when pricing your home is the level of consumer demand (how active is the market) and comparable inventory (If I list, who am I competing with?). It is also important to understand the difference between "listing prices" (what sellers are asking for) and "sold prices" (what buyers are willing to pay).

When should I ask for a CMA?

If you don't get a CMA before you list your home you might try to sell it for the wrong price. Setting the price too low means you'll get less money for your home; setting it too high means it might not sell at all. Every real estate agent in the country will want to complete a CMA on your home before helping you sell it. Sellers who haven't yet chosen a real estate agent often ask several agents to complete CMAs so there is opportunity to meet different agents and to see how they work.

How is a CMA prepared?

First, an agent will walk through your home. The home does not have to be in perfect condition. However, property condition does affect price, so if you plan to do work on the property, let the agent know. At this point the agent may recommend improvements to increase your home's value.

Second, the agent will research information about comparable properties in the area, usually using a real estate industry resource called the Multiple Listing Service. This includes:

  • Properties that have sold and closed within the last 12 months

  • Active listings - properties currently for sale

  • Pending sales - listings that have sold but not yet closed

  • Expired listings - properties that did not sell during the listing period

Lastly, the agent suggests a probable selling price. Don't be surprised if a CMA results in a price range rather than a set price, particularly in markets where there are price differences due to property size, age, architectural style or physical condition.

What can you expect to see in a CMA?

A completed CMA is presented in the form of a report, which includes the selling price, detailed information about your home, and the comparable properties that were researched to determine its value. Because the price derived from a CMA is somewhat subjective, some agents may include brief statements on the perceived selling points your home.

When selling your car, an incorrect price might cost you a few hundred dollars. If you set the wrong price for your home, you could lose tens of thousands of dollars. Do your homework and ask a real estate professional for a Comparative Market Analysis to ensure you get the most value for your home.