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What is the difference between a CMA and a home Appraisal?

When selling a home, you can get lost in a lot of real estate terms, especially if you are a first-time home buyer. One item of the real estate transaction process we can demystify is the difference between a comparable market analysis known as the CMA and a home appraisal. Both reports are crucial to the home selling process and, while they are similar, they have some very distinct differences.

A Licensed Real estate Agent Provides a CMA

A competitive market analysis is the process your real estate agent will perform to get the best approximate price for listing your home. We provide this service free of charge to our clients as a tool for you to analyze what your home value could be worth.


A CMA is created by taking recently sold homes that are like yours. We refer to these as “comps” in the industry. Agents use the data provided by the multiple listing service or MLS, which has gathered information on for-sale listings in your area. It is important to note that the MLS is only available to licensed real estate agents. In part, this is what makes listing your home FSBO (For Sale By Owner) so difficult.


When preparing a CMA, we look for homes that are similar in size and features. The CMA lists information on local properties currently listed on the market. We include active, pending, and sold properties in the evaluation. The analysis will also contain a low, median, and high price for your home as well as an approximate average number of days the homes have been on the market. Though a CMA isn’t concrete, it can give you an idea of what your house should be worth on the market.

What is an appraisal?

The home appraisal process begins once a buyer applies for a loan to purchase a home. When the buyer submits the offer and requests a loan from the lender, the bank arranges for a licensed appraiser to evaluate your home; this is one the most crucial differences between a CMA and a home appraisal.

An appraiser must be state certified or state licensed. Even though the bank initiates the home appraisal process, the home appraiser provides a neutral third party that has no vested interest in the outcome of the sale of the home. Their purpose is to gather and report observations including facts about the house to determine the fair market value. The bank wants to ensure it isn’t lending too much money for the value of the home; therefore, they hire a licensed appraiser. The appraisal report will contain information about the home’s current condition, the most recent information about similar listings in the area, and information regarding the home’s surrounding neighborhood.

Another distinct difference between a CMA and an appraisal is that you can prepare for the appraisal. Some of the things you can do to make sure that everything in your home is in order is by fixing any apparent flaws and making sure that the house is up to current market standards. While you can’t always predict the outcome of what an appraisal will be, you do have some control over it than what a CMA will find. A CMA and an appraisal are different in their approach, but both help you to get you the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding how much your home is potentially worth.

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