Do-It-Yourself Comparative Market Analysis


The ‘comparative market analysis,’ or CMA, is the old standby marketing tool for agents trying to win listings. The agents try to demonstrate their value by pulling sales numbers they claim only they have access to and assemble a set of recent and pending home sales that provide context for pricing your house.

What an agent might not tell you is that, since a comparative market analysis is just an evaluation of comparable homes sold in your area, you can perform your own CMA and save the traditional 6 percent commission that would go to an agent. In fact, given that the National Association of Realtors has a history of inflating the volume of home sales by as much as 20% you may be even more effective.

Here are four reliable sources of home pricing trends and data that you can use to construct a sturdy comparative market analysis.

  1. Federal Housing Finance Agency – This little-known website has two priceless tools, both drawing from home sale data pulled from mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That’s the vast majority of mortgages made each year.
    • FHFA House Price Index shows the home value trends for metropolitan areas from Akron (OH) to Williamsport (PA).  You can use the trend to see where values are headed in your area: up, down or nowhere.  This shows you the momentum of your local market, which helps you know how to pace your expectations.
    • FHFA House Price Calculator lets you enter in the purchase price for a house in any metro area; the calculator applies FHFA index to that house and provides the likely market value of that house. However, this does not include either the value added by improvements or subtracted by a distressed sale situation, so you will have to take these considerations into your pricing strategy.

  2. Local property tax records – You can look up the most recent sale price of houses that are the most like yours in your neighborhood online or in person. Most databases even let you search by street address. Plug those sale prices into the FHFA’s House Price Calculator to come up with a comparative market analysis and map of values for houses near yours.
  3. Local building permit information – Look up – in person or online – the building permit information for nearby houses that you think are similar to yours. This will help you peer inside your neighbors’ houses and pinpoint exactly what they’ve done to improve their properties (assuming, of course, that your neighbors got building permits for their projects). You will have to visit the house to see what kinds of fixtures and finishes your neighbors chose, but the permit history for each house will reveal the big-ticket improvements that support major leaps in value, such as bathroom additions.
  4. FNCFNCcollects data about the changes made to each house (improvements, for example) and blends that with current sales data to produce indices of home value for major metro areas – far more than the 20 covered by the Case-Schiller Index.  Just look for the newest FNC Index report underneath the “Latest News & Media” section on their home page.
  5. Organize the data you collect from these sources in a spreadsheet to help you identify the key trends for your neighborhood. These values and trends can help you frame a realistic market value for your own home.

    Once you have put together a comparative market analysis the Pricing Guide will help you put it in the context of selling or buying a house. And while a full-fledged appraisal is always the final word in pricing a home, the Real Time Pricing Report draws on much of the data used by appraisers for a customized, customizable report for only $40.