Appraisals are often confused with two other types of less formal home evaluations, CMAs and BPOs. When an owner prepares to sell a home he usually requests a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) from one or more real estate agents. Agents look at comparable homes in the neighborhood that are on the market or have recently sold and use these “comps” to come up with a suggested listing price. There are no rules for CMAs and every agent has her own approach. Some are verbal, straight out of the agent’s mental data bank; others are quite elaborate, with information on a number of properties, pictures and detailed descriptions based on the agent’s actual inspection of the properties while they were on the market. A CMA is a background to or justification of a suggested price and is, in no way, an appraisal. Sometimes an agent will even “cherry pick” comps to back up her predetermined listing price.
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