Ask the Agents #21: What is a CMA and Final Walk-Throughs?

Question: What is a CMA?

Answer: A CMA – or comparative market analysis – is an excellent way to determine the sales price of your house or the value of a house that you wish to buy. It’s a data-crunching exercise that compares recent sales of similar properties while taking in account house square footage, age, number of bedrooms, lot size and other apples-to-apples comparisons, such as garage or pool.

Bear in mind, however, that a CMA yields a number and that there are many other factors when it comes to real estate. Which school district is important to you? Do you value being close to your workplace? Maybe you prefer an east-facing front door to a west-facing front door. Or a pretty little garden is more important than a big yard of grass. A CMA cannot address all the intangibles of home-buying or -selling.

We always provide a CMA to our seller clients (it’s a free service), often before our first meeting. Because River Oaks is so nuanced, it’s essential that a CMA for this neighborhood be assembled by an agent who knows it well. We would be happy to help you.

Question: Do I need to have a final walk-through before closing?

Answer: A final walk-through is not required, but it’s an excellent idea for the buyers – and not bad for sellers, too. You and your agent want to be sure that all agreed-upon repairs have been made and that nothing new has cropped up. The final walk-through typically takes place one or two days before closing, or even the morning of an afternoon closing. Here are a few things to check for:

  • If the sellers were set to move out, make sure all their stuff has been removed (unless you have agreed otherwise). It’s not the buyers’ responsibility to deal with an unwanted couch, for example.
  • Make sure that items that were supposed to stay – i.e. drapes, light fixtures, landscape items – have indeed stayed.
  • Check that the walls and doors have not been banged up by the sellers’ move-out.
  • The house should be clean – in fact, you can have a professional cleaning written into the sales contract.
  • Check that the appliances, plumbing and HVAC all work.
  • The landscape should be tidy and all debris removed.

Some agents will ask buyers to sign a Buyer’s Walk-Through and Acceptance Form (TAR-1925), which can come across as a practice more appropriate to a used-car sale. Many real estate attorneys would consider such a form unlikely to stand up in court. We don’t personally use them.