How to research real estate comps to estimate your home’s value


Knowing how much your home is worth helps you gauge how much equity you have available and price your home effectively when it comes time to sell.



a house that is parked on the side of a road: How to research real estate comps to estimate your home’s value


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How to research real estate comps to estimate your home’s value

One of the tools used to determine a home’s value are real estate comparables. Here’s what you need to know about comps, and how to use them to estimate what your home is worth.

What are real estate comps?

Real estate comps definition

Real estate comps are industry-speak for “comparables,” or a set of homes that meet similar criteria that make them ideal for a value comparison. Many times, comps are recent sales in a given market from a specific time period, such as the past three or six months, and homes with a similar layout, such as the same number of bathrooms.

Comps are important because they provide valuable context. Some of the key factors that are generally considered when identifying comps include:

  • Location
  • Size or square footage
  • Condition
  • Style and age of the property
  • Home improvements or amenities

“Real estate comps are imperative to fully understand the state of today’s real estate market,” explains John Ameralis, a licensed associate real estate broker at Compass in New York City. “They include active, in-contract and recently-sold properties in the trailing six months.”

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Comps aren’t just a tool for buyers and sellers looking to purchase or sell, however.

“Banks will use [comps] to determine the fair market value by hiring a third-party appraisal company for when homeowners refinance their property,” Ameralis notes.

How to find comps for your home

Whether you’re looking to access the equity in your home, list it for sale or are otherwise interested, you can find appropriate real estate comps with a little bit of research. Here’s how.

1. Understand your home’s specs

To find comps for your home, your first step is to get clear on the property. Make a list of all the details about your home, such as where it’s located, its size, the land it sits on, amenities, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and any special finishes or upgrades.

To drill down even further, you can also identify other factors that could impact your home’s value, such as the school district it’s in or proximity to public transit or parks.

2. Search for similar recently sold homes

Once you have an understanding of your home’s attributes, your next step is to look for recently sold properties with similar characteristics. It’s important to search for “sold” homes, not “listed” ones, because listings only show the ask or list price, not the sale price.

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There are many home search tools available online. Ideally, use one that allows you to define the search criteria, such as the date of sale, neighborhood and size of the property.

Ameralis recommends looking for properties that have sold within the last six months, though if the housing market in your area has been slower, you may have to consider homes sold beyond the six-month mark.

Set the search to the same neighborhood you live in and to comparably sized homes, as well as the type of property you’re comparing. If you’re selling a condo, for example, search for condominiums, not single-family homes.

3. Narrow down your list

Once you’ve identified comparable candidates, inspect them further before making a determination of value. Ameralis suggests having a list of at least four to six comps in order to appropriately evaluate your property.

If you live in a very active housing market, you may want to get ultra-specific about your criteria, as well. For example, two homes with identical square footage and similar finishes, a quarter of a mile apart in the same school district, both with in-ground pools, are likely to have very similar values.

Conversely, if the home you’re evaluating is unlike what’s sold nearby, or is in a slower market or a rural or sparsely populated area, you may need to relax your search criteria.

4. Get the whole picture

There’s only so much information you can gather online. Some properties might look like a near-perfect match on paper (or on a screen), but in reality, they could have key differences that impact their value.

One home might be on a cul-de-sac with stellar curb appeal, for example, while another in the same neighborhood might have ever-present noise from a highway close by. In another instance, a home search tool might indicate that a property sold for $300,000, but not disclose that the seller paid $20,000 in upgrades, repairs and closing costs, which would peg the real sale price of…



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