What are "comps" (or comparables)?
Updated March 14, 2022
Comparable sales, what are generally referred to in the industry as “comps,” is a tool used to determine the value of a specific home or property.
By looking at recent sales of similar sold homes—or homes for sale—in the same geographical area, buyers, sellers, real estate agents and even appraisers can competitively price a home that’s coming on the market.
Comparable sales—or comps—help sellers, brokers and buyers determine the value of a home or property. Blake Wheeler/Unsplash
To ensure accuracy, for the most part, the new listing is compared to like-properties that have been sold in the previous three to six months in the same neighborhood and that share its characteristics, including its age, condition and style, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and square footage.
Real estate agents source comps from the Multiple Listing Service or MLS, a database that tracks the homes that are for sale.
Although the MLS is not available to the public, there are other ways to find comps. The information is available in public property records, which can be accessed in person or sometimes even online, depending on the locality. There sometimes is a minimal charge for this information.
There also are real estate websites that aggregate statistics about home sales. Zillow.com, for instance, has a filter that allows users to sift recent sales by a number of features, including ZIP Code and square footage. The site also has a pricing tool that allows users to see recent sales.
Another way to determine the value of a particular property is to have it appraised; the price of hiring a professional appraiser varies.
Having a knowledge of the comps allows the seller and/or real estate agent to set a competitive price and guides prospective buyers in making reasonable offers.
(While comps usually refer to sales, renters can look at rental sites and rental listings in their area for comparable rents to make sure they’re getting a good deal on their lease.)