A comparative market analysis (CMA) determines the market value of a property by comparing it to similar properties that have recently sold, as well as to those currently listed for sale. A CMA is a crucial tool for listing agents determining the right sale price for a property. It’s also a tool for buyer’s agents advising their clients to make competitive offers.

Conducting accurate, consistent CMAs isn’t easy, and most agents aren’t taught this skill in their prelicense real estate classes. In this article, we’ll walk through the entire process of creating bulletproof CMAs, and give you a free CMA presentation template to share your findings with clients.

Before We Get Started, Did You Know That CMAs Will Get You Listings?

There’s nothing that demonstrates your knowledge, expertise, and action better than an accurate, well-presented CMA. 

However, good CMAs take a lot of time. Elevate’s CMA tool streamlines the process for you. Whether you’re targeting one specific property or creating CMAs for entire neighborhoods as part of a farming strategy, Elevate takes much of the work off your hands.

Read our review of Elevate, or click below to see for yourself the many Elevate CMA tools that can save you time and boost your business.

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How to Do a Comparative Market Analysis in 7 Steps

7 Steps Guide how to create a CMA

Let’s dive into exactly what you need to write a comparative market analysis that is sure to impress any homeowner.

We’ve compiled this content in a downloadable PDF guide, including a handy one-page quick reference for your convenience.

Download Your CMA Guide Here

1. Gather All the Data Available About the Subject Property

Infographic highlighting the first step in creating a CMA: gather data about the property

“Subject property” is CMA-speak for the property for which you’re determining the market value. Since the critical function of a CMA is comparison, we first need to learn everything about the subject property so we can find other comparable ones with which to compare it.

How We’ll Use Subject Property Data in a CMA

Using subject property data, we’ll compare the “subject property” (whose value we’re trying to estimate) against other, similar properties that have either recently been sold or are currently on the market. 

Remember, if you want to determine a home’s value, much less sell it, you need to be an expert when it comes to every detail. The more you know about a property, the better you’ll be able to gauge its value relative to similar, recently sold homes, as well properties currently on the market—not to mention its value relative to overall market trends.

ACTION STEP: Gather all the information you can about your subject property. At a minimum, you need the following data points:

DON’T FORGET: You can get a lot of this information from the MLS (from previous times your subject property has been listed), from tax records and county/township websites, and most importantly, from the owner of the property. The owner of the home will have intimate knowledge of specifics, so make sure to interview them thoroughly.

2. Gather Your Subject Property’s Previous Sale / Listing Data

Infographic highlighting the second step in creating a CMA: gather the property's previous listing data.

The best indicator of what the market will bear for a particular property is the market itself. A subject property’s previous sale and listing history provides insight into what the market has (or hasn’t) supported for the property in the past. It also helps us start to estimate the home’s value relative to the movement of the entire market.

How We’ll Use a Subject Property’s Previous Sale / Listing Data in a CMA

Using our subject property’s previous sale data, we’ll estimate the first dimension of a home’s value based on the market’s overall movement since it last sold.

For example, say your subject property was last sold five years ago. The median home price for your subject property’s market niche was $200,000. Today, the median price for that same niche is $210,000. With an increase of 5%, we can surmise that our subject property’s value might follow the same trend.

ACTION STEP: Gather all the information you can about your subject property’s previous sales and listings. At a minimum, you’ll need the following:

DON’T FORGET: UNSOLD property data! Knowing the circumstances under which your subject property was listed for sale (but not sold) is critical to a successful CMA. Just as a sale indicates that the market supports a particular value, an unsold property often indicates a market that won’t support a specific price.

3. Gather Recently Sold Comps

Infographic highlighting the third step in creating a CMA: gather recently sold comps.

Second only to understanding your subject property, having relevant comparable sales (or “comps”) is the next most important step. Comps are properties with primary features that are identical or very similar to those of our subject property.

A solid comp is a property that has been:

  1. Sold in the last 12 months (or, in fast-moving markets, the last six months)
  2. Near to your subject property on the map
  3. Closed within a reasonable number of days on market and sale terms

How We’ll Use Recently Sold Comps in a CMA

Using recently sold comps, we’ll estimate the second dimension of our property’s value based on what the market has recently borne for equivalent (or similar) property.

Sometimes finding good comps is a challenge. In situations like this, you’ll need to find comps and make some value adjustments relative to the property you’re assessing. 

Criteria like acreage, square footage, and new amenities with specific price tags (like a new roof or new appliances) are easy to adjust for, while subjective attributes (like architectural design and landscaping) are harder to adjust for.

Infographic illustrates how to adjust a comp related to the features of a subject property in creating a CMA.

If the subject property is truly one of a kind, finding and adjusting comps is really more of an art than a science. Valuation is a complex process that will involve multiple angles and a range of values depending on who the final buyer is. Start by creating buyer profiles for the property and develop an idea of what the property could be worth to each of them. Then factor in some of the intrinsic value data, and also layer in the various incentives (tax breaks, etc.). 

ACTION STEP: Using your MLS, find four or five sold properties that match your subject property in terms of the critical criteria we identified back in step one, going back one year. Why only a year? We all know how fast the market changes. You want the most recent sales data you can find since you’re looking to determine what the market value of a home is today.

4. Gather Active Listing Comps

This infographic highlights the fourth step in creating a CMA: gather active listing comps.

An active listing comp is just like a recently sold comp except that it is, as you may have guessed, currently on the market. Active listing comps are important to the CMA process because they give insight into what our subject property would likely see in terms of activity under current market conditions.

How We’ll Use Active Listing Comps in a CMA

Active listing comps give us the third and final dimension of our property’s value, based on the current market’s reaction to similar listings. We’ll also gauge the level of competition we’ll face should we enter the market at various price points.

ACTION STEP: Using your MLS, find four or five active properties that match your subject property in terms of the critical criteria we identified back in step one. Ideally, these properties haven’t been on the market longer than twice the median days on market for similar listings. The best active listing comps are ones that are currently under contract, but not yet sold.

DON’T FORGET: Reach out to the listing agent of every Active Listing Comp to get the insider scoop on their property. They may have information that will further give you insight into your property’s value. Also, if their property is under contract, they likely have buyers who are interested in a property just like your subject property. Get it sold before you list it!

Infographic highlighting the fifth step in creating a CMA: evaluate the micro market trends of the property.

The term “micro market trends” sounds highfalutin, but it’s really just a fancy way of saying “keep in mind what’s happening in the neighborhood.”

Let’s say there’s major road construction down the block from your property. Despite an overall trend of the market improving in the neighborhood, this micro market trend may drive down the final number on your comparative market analysis.

Likewise, if your subject property is located in a building that recently instituted a 24-hour doorman service, that’s going to drive the price of the apartment slightly over the price of the market research you’ve done so far.

How We’ll Use Micro Market Trends in a CMA

Using this knowledge, we can adjust our overall value predictions up or down relative to our findings.

ACTION STEP: Collect answers to the following questions: “Is there anything happening in the immediate area of your subject property that would drive the price of the home up or down? If so, by how much?”

DON’T FORGET: We’ve collected all of this information in a handy reference guide that you can download.

Download Your CMA Guide Here

6. Put the Pieces of Your Comparative Market Analysis Together Into a Final Product

Infographic highlighting the sixth step in creating a CMA: turn your analysis into a final product.

Nice work—you’ve done all the research necessary to put together a fantastic CMA. You know all the details of your subject property, you understand the recent sales history of similar properties, you know what the market is currently offering in terms of comparables, and you know what might affect the sale price of your property locally.

So, how do we pull all this information together into a final result?

A. Start With Your Subject Property’s History

First, start with the sales history of your subject property. Median prices have risen (or fallen) a certain percentage since your property last sold. Based on this (taking into account any renovations or alterations that have been made to the subject property), what should the current value be? Multiply the last sold price by the overall market change. This number will be the first in your property value prediction range.

Here’s an example:

B. Move to Your Recently Sold Comps

Next, take a look at your comps for recently sold property. Based on what you’ve found, what does the value of these properties indicate about the value of your subject property? Add up all your comps’ sold prices and divide by the number of comps you have. This number will be the second in your property value prediction range. 

Here’s an example:

C. Look at Your Active Listing Comps

Repeat the previous step, but use the comps you pulled from the active market. This number will be the third in your property value prediction range.

Here’s an example:

Infographic with active listing coms A through E at values ranging from $408,000 to $398,500 would result in a valuation of the subject house at $409,300.

D. Arrange Your Predictions From Lowest to Highest

If you’ve been thorough and consistent in your market research, you should see a trend emerge with all three estimates being reasonably close to one another. Arrange these numbers from lowest to highest to get a conservative, moderate, and aggressive market value for your subject property.

Infographic shows a range of pricing results ranged from conservative to aggressive for the seler and conservative to aggressive for the buyer.

E. Don’t Forget Your Micro Market Trends

Apply any micro market trends to your predictions. Adjust each estimate using the increases or decreases you predict based on these assumptions.

infographic illustrates how small things can affect the market value - a new Trader Joes could increase the price $5,000 or new carpet could raise the price $3,500.

7. Package Your Results & Share With Your Clients

Infographic highlighting the seventh step in creating a CMA: share with your clients.

We get it. By now, you’ve likely got a desk covered in papers, a web browser with 20 tabs open, and a head full of data—but hallelujah, you have your results! 

However, you can’t just hand your client a range of numbers. They need a presentation, they need context, and most of all, they need to understand how you got to the answer you’ve provided.

Much like your eighth-grade math teacher demanded, you’re going to need to show your work. That’s why The Close put together a handy CMA presentation template that, in just a few pages, will give your clients or prospects all the information they need to understand how you arrived at your CMA results and determined a price range.

Get Your CMA Presentation Template

Additional Tools


Elevate is an excellent tool for busy agents who want the whole process done for them. Plus Elevate includes plenty of other features, like a customer relationship manager (CRM). We also like Cloud CMA, which focuses on CMAs but also puts together listing presentations and home tours, and has a range of highly optimized templates for both print and digital. 


CMAs are a lot of work, but they don’t have to be boring. Use our template, try out one from Elevate, Cloud CMA, design your own on Canva, or even find premade templates on Etsy (which often use Canva). Here are examples that are comprehensive, clear, elegant, and sure to wow. 

Comparative Market Analysis FAQs

Even though you’re now an expert in all things CMA, we know you might still have questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions (and helpful answers) we get asked about comparative market analyses.

Bringing It All Together

Learning how to do a comparative market analysis isn’t easy, but now you have a thorough understanding of how to estimate the value of a property in your market. Take this information to make your sellers’ list prices more accurate and your buyers’ offers more competitive. Have any tips or specific questions? Leave them in the comments below!

Download Your CMA Guide Here
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