It can be difficult for sellers to distinguish between two methods of finding the value of their home: a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and a home appraisal. Though they share many similarities, there are key differences in how the two approaches ultimately arrive at a listing price for your home.
The Difference Between a Comparative Market Analysis and an Appraisal
Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)
A CMA is conducted by an agent using their knowledge of the local market in conjunction with information available to them on the multiple listing service (MLS), which contains data on sold homes and market trends. A CMA helps to price the home more accurately, keeping the property competitive in the current market. For those who are thinking of selling their home For Sale By Owner (FSBO), it’s worth noting that you will not be able to conduct a CMA on your own, since, among other things, access to the MLS is exclusive to real estate agents.
Your agent’s analysis accounts for the various factors that influence home prices to arrive at an accurate estimate of your home’s value. A CMA compares your home to others in your area that have either recently sold, are currently on the market, or had previously listed but have since expired, typically using data from the past three-to-six months. Comparable homes, or “comps,” are homes whose characteristics are similar to your own, such as the housing type, condition, and the square footage and property size. A thorough CMA will provide information on what homes in your area are selling for, how long they were on the market, and the difference between their listing and sold price, and will list a low, median, and high selling price for your home.
The main difference between an appraisal and a CMA is the personnel involved. Whereas a CMA is conducted by a real estate agent, an appraisal is carried out by a licensed appraiser on behalf of the bank. Once a buyer applies for a loan to purchase your home, the bank will order an appraisal of the property. Though appraisers use methods of comparison similar to an agent’s CMA, unlike a real estate agent, bank appraisers have no vested interest in the sale of the home. The goal of an appraiser’s visit is to determine your home’s fair market value to ensure that the bank isn’t lending more money to the buyer than needed.