If you're buying or selling a Hamilton County home, you have a lot of decisions to make. Probably the most important of those decisions is pricing: what's a fair price to pay for the home you've fallen in love with, or what's a realistic price to set for the home you plan to sell? To arrive at those numbers, you could simply pick one you like; just don't count on scoring the best possible price for the home of your dreams or on selling your current home quickly and profitably. A more scientific, and thus reliable, way to determine fair market value for a home is to use a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). For both buyers and sellers, a properly prepared CMA yields lots of useful information.

A good CMA takes into consideration prices of three different groups of homes: 1) homes that are currently FOR SALE, 2) homes that are PENDING SALE, and 3) homes that have recently SOLD. Those groups should then be whittled down to the properties within them that most closely match your home in size, location, and construction. SOLD homes should preferably have been sold within the past six months and no further back than a year.

Of all the comps out there, SOLD homes are the most useful. SOLD comparables give a seller the best picture of what buyers are actually willing to pay for a house similar to theirs. They also help buyers avoid over-paying for a home or offering too little and losing a home they love.

Your Hamilton County real estate agent is your best source for a properly prepared CMA. Be sure to ask if your real estate agent has access to reports for all active, pending and closed Hamilton County properties.

Is it possible that you won't like the numbers presented in your CMA? Yes. If that's the case, you can ask your real estate agent to prepare another CMA using different comps. Or, it might be a good time to ask yourself if buying or selling that particular property is your best choice.