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How to run your own property comps quickly and easily

When analyzing a real estate deal, THE most important factor in figuring out whether or not it’s a good deal is knowing how to evaluate that property. This is true whether you found a deal on the MLS, or off-market, or “Brrr’ing” the deal.

Misjudging the value of a property can either cost you a good deal (because you undervalued it) or cause you headaches and lost money from buying a bad deal (because you OVER valued it) 

So, we want this to be a guide in “comping” houses so that you can come out as a champ in analyzing deals, and do it on the spot when a real estate deal lands in front of you.


Before you start reading…

Check out this free eBook from our founder Ryan Dossey, where he shows you some BIG mistakes he made when comping. One story, in particular, cost him almost $20k all because he didn’t take a close look at the comps.


What is “Comping”

The term “comping” is real estate slang for evaluating the value of a property by comparing it with the value of similar properties — in a close location — that have sold recently.

Terms used:

  • Comparable sales — Sold houses that are similar to the property you’re evaluating, that have sold recently
  • Sold recently — depending on the marketing, this could mean 3 months or as far back as 2 years.
  • Running comps — The act of gathering data of past sales and comparable homes to evaluate and come up with a value for the property you’re analyzing
  • Wholesaling — A “slang” word in real estate for investors who assign a contract to another investor.
  • “Boots on the ground” — A reference to having physical employees or contractors that represent your business in the field — AKA: they’re viewing houses for you, comping properties, talking to motivated sellers. 
  • MLS — “Multiple listings service”. The “platform” where licensed agents can post their clients’ property listings.
  • Scaling — Leveraging tools, services, people, and processes, to increase the ability of your and your business to close more deals. For example: 1 solo investor may only be able to close 1-2 deals per month due to time restrictions, however with added tools and contractors, they can increase that amount to 3+.
  • “Comp” — slang for the house you’re comparing.


Who’s this guide for? 

We’ll be talking to the real estate investor, or someone who wants to get started in wholesaling, or flipping properties, or someone who wants to start buying and holding real estate, or “wholetailing” deals.

The “problems” with Comping

The skill set of comping is an art and science. It’s an “art” because things just aren’t “exact” sometimes. You may be analyzing a property that has NO comparable sales in the last 6 months. Or the “comparable houses” aren’t exactly similar, so you have to “guess” a value of yours based of what people are paying for other properties that aren’t similar to yours (we’ll cover some easy ways to comp, and how to “guess” accurately).

So a problem with comping, is that it takes time to learn (fortunately, we’ll cover how to that in this guide)

But as time goes by, and you get better and practice more, you’ll develop a type of “sixth sense” to figuring out the price of a home.


There are a lot of “comping” estimators out there (we’ll list a few below), but a lot of them can be drastically off. It’s not a good idea to use these if you’re unfamiliar with the area or are starting off.

When should you use them? When you’re already familiar with comping houses.

Comping houses virtually

There are quite a bit of wholesalers that are going 100% virtual with wholesaling and flipping houses. The industry can do this with all the tools, services, and technology available for real estate investors.

However, for the brand new investor, if you don’t know the area, or you don’t have any “boots on the ground”, you might make a lot of mistakes trying to comp a house from miles away, without knowing the area.

For example: you might be looking at two similar homes that match in room count and size, and are pretty close to one another. However, without knowing the area or investigating further, you might miss the fact that one house is in a higher-income neighborhood that highly desirable, while the other is in a lower-income neighborhood where prices are lower.

Some states have no sold data

There are some states that don’t allow sold data to be public. So, if you happen to be in one of those states, you’ll have to go to an agent/realtor and/or get MLS access.

Tools to use to view comparable sales

Here’s a list of “estimator” tools that you can quickly comp houses on the fly

    1. — A great and easy tool to view past sales. You can change the filters to match homes that are like yours.using zillow to comp houses
      Here’s a video on how to comp houses using Zillow:
    2. Red Fin — Similar to Zillow in many ways
    3. Property profile — Certain tools like, “PropStream”, or title company sites like “Chicago Title”, have online dashboards where you can “pull” a property profile for a specific house. These profiles will also list comparable sales:
      (NOTE: We have an affiliate relationship with PropStream where you can try it out for free here. ) 
    4. MLS — This is the service that agents use for listing their properties. This is the ultimate tool for viewing comparable sales as it’s the most accurate. However, you have to be a licensed agent or have a licensed agent give you access.
    5. PropStream — This is a paid tool where you can view comparable sales very easily. Here’s a video below on how to comp properties using PropStream:

How far back should you look when comping homes? 

Comping is done with SOLD houses similar to yours. However, how far back do you need to look? This is always a good question from people learning how to comp properties and it’s important that you know. 

The answer to this is highly dependent on the data available in your location.

So for example…

When there are plenty of homes to compare

If you’re analyzing a 3/2 (3-bed rooms, 2 baths) SFR (single-family residence), you’ll want to look at the same size home in a 1-mile radius (we’ll cover how far out to look).

IF you find plenty of homes that sold in the last 3 months (meaning, the market is HOT), then you don’t need to look any further for figuring out a current value.

When there are few

If you only find 1-2 somewhat similar homes that sold in 3 months, you’ll want to look back farther back. Start with 6 months, and gradually increase to 1 year and see if there’s more data.

CAVEAT: you want to be careful if it’s a changing market. So if 6 months ago, prices have changed 10% or more, then that data is “old data” and that increase/decrease into consideration.

When there are none

2 solutions to this:

  1. Compare SOMEWHAT similar homes. So for example, if you’re looking at a 2-bedroom house at a size of 1,000 square feet, but you have lots of 3-bedroom houses to compare, and some 1-bedroom houses, you can use the data to estimate what people are willing to pay for your 2-bed. Typically a 2 bed is less valuable than a 3 bed (CAVEAT to this: is in areas where a lot of elderly live and in those cases, a 2 bed MIGHT be more desirable for them — this is why KNOWING your market is very important).
  2. Go back 2 years. This might be a little dangerous to do because in 2 years prices can change quite a bit. But if it hasn’t you might need to look back to see some sold data.

How to comp real estate

Ok, so now we’ve gotten to the “bread and butter” of this guide, and we’ll go into detail of HOW To comp houses.

I’m going to list some methods, from easy to hard:

The easy way (far less accurate, but very fast) — Zillow estimator or various tools like Property Radar, or Property profiles from Agent pro 247 that show you some comparables and even pop out a number in terms of value. A lot of these “estimators” are based on assessed value OR they have their own algorithms to estimate price based on recent sales. 

Two problems with this:

  1. The assessed value is almost always off. And when it comes to comping properties you don’t want to be off by more than 5%-10% (in $300k+ homes, being off by 10% means $30,000. That is a difference between a good deal and a risky deal for cash buyers— and assessed value is often off by that much.
  2. The estimators aren’t good at removing irrelevant comps. Like the ones that ARE near, and are similar in size, BUT are in completely different neighborhoods that are of lesser value. This error can only be corrected from looking at pictures and/or having insider market knowledge.

The medium way (Very accurate, but can take a while and unreliable) — using an agent.

Sometimes, a quick way to get an estimate is to call an agent you’ve built a relationship with. This can be an agent you plan on using for the re-sale. However, if you’re strictly wholesaling contracts, then it won’t make much sense for the agent to lock up time with you knowing that you won’t be using him/her.

When to use this method? Only temporarily and when you’re new and/or new to a market.

The hardest way (but is a must if this will be your career) — Learning how to comp yourself. 

Eventually, you’ll have to learn how to comp your own properties if you want to be a pro real estate investor. Below we’ll dive into some basics of comping

Running comps on your own

  1. Taking a peak at Zillow/MLS
    First, you’ll want to look at the data. We’ll use Zillow as an example. You’ll want to input some filters to only view comparables.
    For this example, let’s say that your property is a 4/2 built in 1970, and it’s 2,000 square feet.
  2. Enter some filters — here’s some examples:
    1. 4 bed, 2 bath
    2. Built between 1969-1985 (I choose this range because a 197o’s home is most likely a “track” home, so I want to limit the comps to “track” homes rather than spec or older models (but you may have to if there are no comps). And I don’t want to go newer than 1985  (but you may have to if there aren’t many homes) because these may start to get a little more valuable*)
    3. square feet = 1,950-2,050 (about a + or – 10% difference)
    4. In a 5-mile radius
    5. Only SOLD data in the last 3 months (push it out to 6 months if there are only 1 or no properties in 3 months sold with this criteria).
  3. Compare the results
    1. Does the comp have the same curb appeal? Or neighborhood appeal?
    2. Is the house distressed?
    3. Does it attract the same type of buyers (IE blue-collar working neighborhood vs white-collar)?
    4. Is the neighborhood mostly renters or owner occupants (tenant-filled neighborhoods are usually less valuable)?
    5. Is the lot size similar (Large lots are more valuable)
    6. Is the comp in perfect condition? Or needs rehab work?
    7. What’s the ARV (after-repair value) of these homes? Of yours?
  4. Decided on your resale value
    After you’ve “gauged” the market, decided on where your property sits compared to the others that sold and make a decision on price range.

* On year built: each market is different. And some buyers might like older homes and pay more for them. While others prefer track homes or the market doesn’t show much difference in price with the age of the home. You have to understand your market for this.



Bottom line: you have to KNOW how to comp. Especially in today’s buyer market (this was written in late 2022), where it’s CRUCIAL to have a good and accurate price for end buyers or you’ll be stuck with a property.

There’s no “hand-holding” guide to comping; it’s a bit of an art form because you have to “feel” and see the comps for yourself and ask: “Is this a good comp?”, “Does the price accurately reflect what this house will sell for?”.

So, it takes time to learn.

But there’s no better time than now.