How to do Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) in Canada

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What You Should Know

  • A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is an estimate of the market value of a property and is typically completed by local real estate agents.
  • Real estate agents compare recently sold properties based on the neighbourhood, size, and age to determine a market valuation for a specific house.
  • A CMA will help buyers make competitive offers and ensure sellers are not leaving money on the table.
  • The easiest way to increase the value of your house is to keep it maintained and make simple renovations like painting.
  • A CMA is different from an appraisal because an appraisal must be done by a licensed appraiser.
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If you're a prospective home buyer or seller in Canada, it's crucial to know what the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is and how it can help you get the best price for your home. As the name suggests, a CMA determines the current price of a home by comparing it with recently sold houses in the same area. In particular, real estate agents compare the size, neighbourhood, and age of recently sold houses when performing a CMA.

How to do a CMA report in Canada

CMA Steps

1. Gather All Available Information on the Subject Property

Initially, it is essential to understand everything about the subject property. By doing so, you can make informed decisions about the differences between comparable properties. The more information you gather, the more reference points you have to compare with other properties.

It also helps to gather property tax information. Although tax information will not provide a home's accurate, fair market value, it will help set a reference point.

2. Gather any Existing Data on the Subject Property, Such as Prior Sales or Listings

You can roughly estimate the current price of a house through some basic math. You will need to know three things:

  • When the house was last sold.
  • How much it sold for.
  • The average increase in home value for that specific neighbourhood.

With this information, you can multiply the old value of the house with the percentage increase in the neighbourhood for that period. We constantly update our Major Cities Housing Market Report to ensure you have recent data. For example, imagine you bought a house four years ago for $500,000, and the average house price in your neighbourhood has gone up 10% since then. By multiplying $500,000 with (1+10%) you can roughly estimate your house to be worth $550,000 (= 500,000 * 1.10) today. However, this is a rough estimate and should be refined with a CMA.

Additionally, it is essential to know if the house was ever listed and not sold. If this ever happened, it is likely the asking price was too high.

3. Take a look at the Last Twelve Months of Comparable Sales

It is important to make sure you are comparing similar properties. For example, an apartment unit should not be compared with a standalone house. This is because pricing the differences is very difficult. Best practices when searching for comparable properties include filtering by:

  • Square feet (+/- 10% of the subject property).
  • Age (+/- 5 years of the subject property).
  • Sold within the past 6-12 months.
  • Ensure it is the same type of property.
  • Stay as close to the neighbourhood as possible.

Note that these are just a starting point for filters and not an exhaustive list. The goal here is to narrow it down to at least five comparable properties that were recently sold. If there isn't enough data, an agent can extend the search criteria by increasing the factors mentioned in the "Will a CMA Correctly Value my House" section.

4. Examine Comparable Properties Currently for Sale

Use the same filter as above to find comps currently for sale. Make sure to look at how long they have been on the market. Days on Market (DOM) is a great way to determine the interest in a property. If a similar property has been on sale for 60 days yet other houses are selling faster, it's likely too expensive. It's best if you keep this in mind when adjusting the price of your home.

5. Putting it All Together

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Armed with research and reference points, an agent will be able to make an educated estimate of a property's value. An excellent way to start is to use our Free Home Value Estimator. With this foundation, an agent can add or subtract your valuation based on how your housing features compare to similar properties.

How Does a CMA Work?

To determine the valuation for a property, you must know what similar houses have recently sold in the area. A real estate agent can find a list of comparable properties - known as comps - on the MLS platform.

With this information, a real estate agent determines how the market values specific features of a house. It is essential to know the differences in characteristics between your house and recently sold homes to add or subtract value to your home. Standard features that agents compare include:

  • The age of the house
  • The size of the house
  • Recent renovations
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • School district
  • Proximity to amenities, ongoing projects or current developments in the area.
  • The amount of annual property taxes

Through understanding the differences in features, an agent will adjust the value of your house based on how you compare.

For example, imagine a house with two bedrooms recently sold for $500,000. If your home has all the same features and one extra bedroom, you can be sure your house will sell for more. However, imagine a similar three-bedroom property with a new kitchen recently sold for $575,000. If your kitchen is outdated, your house will sell for less. Through the process of comparing your home with multiple recently sold houses, an agent can determine a price range estimate for your house.

It is essential to note the comparable properties are in the same area and have sold recently. This is because different neighbourhoods command different prices, and real estate trends change over time. Ideally, you are comparing houses that have sold no longer than six months ago.

In real life, it is more difficult because there are many features to compare and the potential for lack of comparable properties. Additionally, there is the challenge of pricing the differences between features. How much value does a new roof add? Will my old water heater remove value from my pool?

In these situations, it is crucial to have an experienced real estate agent help you to determine the best value for your property. Please take a look at our Real Estate Agent Finder, where you can rank agents by sales commission to ensure they have lots of experience valuing properties.

Will a CMA Correctly Value my House?

Performing a comparative market analysis is most accurate in areas with lots of sales data. Ideally, an agent will provide you with at least five comparable properties to best determine the price of a house.

However, suppose there is not enough relevant sales data. In that case, an agent will have to extend the qualifying criteria of a comparable property. Typically, an agent will widen the comparable property search by:

  1. Increasing the square feet range.
  2. Increasing the acceptable age range.
  3. Comparing with properties that sold up to 24 months ago.
  4. Increasing the location distance up to 10km away.

An experienced real estate agent can help you find the best comparable properties. They know how to balance accuracy and quantity.

How to Increase the Value of my Home?

The easiest way to increase the value of your house is to maintain the current structure of your home and renovate parts of it.

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  • Maintain Your House: The best way to increase value is to maintain whatever you have already done with your home. For example, if you recently built a new deck or made some kitchen renovations – make sure they are looking good and working well! If there was never anything wrong in the first place, this might not be an issue for you. Still, sometimes houses can look dated without even needing major work involved.
  • Simple Renovations: Many people don't realize that minor modifications, such as wall colour choices throughout the house (or just one particular room), can add a few thousand dollars worth of value to your home price.

What is the difference between comparative market analysis and an appraisal?

The main difference is that an appraisal is a formal process that a licenced appraiser must do. A CMA is more subjective and doesn't need to be officially done by an agent.

Appraisals are expensive and not necessary to sell a house. However, they can be a great tool if there are not many similar comparables in your area.

Why should I hire a real estate agent to help me with my CMA report instead of doing it myself?

You should hire a good real estate agent to write your CMA report because they have extensive training to determine your home's fair market value. A CMA report is thorough; it will save you time and make sure all comparables are relevant to your house's location/age/size etc.

If you are looking for a real estate agent to help you with your CMA report, take a look at our Real Estate Agent Finder. You will be able to discover the best agent for your particular needs by looking at experience rankings, reviews, and other characteristics.

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