A comparative market analysis is a Real Estate Broker’s formal opinion regarding the value of a particular property. The agent looks at comparable properties (or “comps” for shorthand). A savvy seller will look at two different sort of comps when deciding on an asking price.
First, look at recently sold comps – the more recent, the better. The final sale price of a home isn’t known until closing, when the documents are recorded with the county. At that point it is a matter of public record. Sold comps give you your current market value.
Then, look at homes under contract or still on the market. This will tell you your competition. You can then decide how to best balance speed – and certainty! – of sale against getting top dollar. For the complete skinny, check out this post on How to Set an Asking Price. Whether you get a Realtor to give you one, or you do it yourself, a comparative market analysis is an important part of the sale process.