Real estate marketing, tech and strategies: The insider's guide to The Art of the CMA

Art of the CMA Book and CMA Best Practices Survey


An insider’s guide to The Art of the CMA by Greg Robertson and Charles Warnock


Delivering massive value and unleashing your inner Picasso by Sharran Srivatsaa, CEO at Kingston Lane & Mentor to Entrepreneurs

After working on Wall Street as a banker for Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, and building startup companies in Silicon Valley, Sharran decided to enter the real estate brokerage business. Despite having no prior experience, he and his partners acquired Tele Properties, then a 33-agent firm based in Beverly Hills. 

The Teles mission became “Dominate from Carmel to Coronado” and five years later, Teles had grown more than 10x and was acquired by Douglas Elliman. In the Art of the CMA, Sharran shares the secrets that allowed him to win more than 96% in one of the most competitive of the listing appointments he made, posting over $1 billion in listings in an 18-month period. 

Insider info: Sharran continues his campaign to nickname Greg Robertson “The Godfather of the CMA” even though Dan Wooley would then technically be Co-Godfather. That title just wouldn’t look right on a business card, and then would be all those arguments within the W+R Studios team about who would be Michael and who would be Sonny. And of course, no one ever wants to be the Fredo of real estate tech.      

Introduction: Keeping it

Greg is not a real estate agent, but his mother was, so it’s still kind of the family business. Greg has loved real estate since day one and is approaching three decades in real estate that enables him to share a unique and valuable perspective:

  • 27 years in real estate
  • 2 companies co-founded
  • 51 product launches
  • 500,000 current subscribers to our flagship product, Cloud CMA
  • Listed on the Swanepoel Power 200 of the most powerful leaders in real estate (#199 )
  • 12 years as a real estate blogger at Vendor Alley
  • Host of Listing Bits2 and Industry Relations podcasts

Insider info: Greg has booked both fitness guru Richard Simmons and bodice-ripper cover model Fabio to appear at trade show booths. It’s not on the list he provided above, but it’s true. 

The Art of the CMA includes a summary of an original research report on the Best Practices for CMAs and Listing Presentations. You can view the complete 2020 report for a deeper dive. 

Chapter 1: Flip the Script

In which we learn why CMAs aren’t Just for Breakfast Anymore. Flipping the script means letting go of traditional real estate practices that don’t work anymore. That means that beyond listing presentations, exceptional brokers and agents have gone beyond using CMAs at listing presentations and now use them to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Some of their techniques include using CMAs to:

  1. Conduct powerful, personalized prospecting
  2. Turn Zestimates to your advantage
  3. Successfully work with traditional buyers and iBuyers
  4. Automate the process of keeping in touch with past clients
  5. Deliver remote and virtual listing presentations

You will learn what real estate pros can learn from Raiders’ Owner Al Davis, why we’re betting big on humans in the REALTOR® vs. Robot wars, and why successful real estate practices are not built on guesswork. Top takeaways include: 

  • Real estate transactions are highly personal and emotional. Robots aren’t. (Page 33)
  • Zestimates and iBuyers are business opportunities in disguise. (Page 36)
  • Zestimates and iBuyer models revolve around the same vital concept: The valuation of a home. (Page 37)

Insider info: Greg rewrote this chapter about nine times, and he’s still not completely happy with it. 

Chapter 2: Anatomy of a CMA

Like the best poets, priests, and politicians, the best CMAs tell a story. Remember, a CMA is a presentation tool. It should be your guide to helping your client understand the market. Why the anatomy? Just as medical students learn the fundamentals of anatomy, real estate pros must understand the components of the CMAs to tap their maximum potential. 

Average agents simply use CMAs as a tool to price homes and create reports. Top real estate pros practice empathy by putting themselves in the seller’s shoes and making it easy for the sellers to decide whom to hire.

Listing presentations Tom Ferry Art of the CMA

You’ll learn whether the use of print or online CMAs is more effective, through some interesting research from real estate coach Tom Ferry, and how to leverage virtual presentations, and get a checklist of the modern CMA features you need to win business. Top takeaways: 

  • Why CMAs are the most effective marketing tool agents use. (Page 44)
  • Checklist: Modern CMA features to win business. (Page 56)
  • A proven script for listing presentation success. (Page 58)

Insider info: Even though industry insiders throw around acronyms like CMA, CRM, DOM, MLS and NAR, customers don’t. Most think CMAs are some kind of medical procedure or a country music award Dolly Parton might win. 


In real estate, it's Comparable Market Analysis, not Country Music Awards

Photo by Uwe Conrad on Unsplash

Chapter 3: The Art of Pricing Homes

Accurate home pricing is perhaps the most crucial step in any real estate transaction, and it’s truly an art as much as a science. Most real estate agents get little or no training when it comes to home valuations, so Chapter 3 dives deep in the mechanics of accurate home valuation.

The methods in this chapter come from top real estate professionals sharing their lessons about the effective use of CMAs over the years. You will learn how to present with confidence and to illuminate the tools and process behind your pricing.

A CMA is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the robots, the computer algorithms, and websites that spit out endless streams of real estate data. Your CMA will help you convey what your prospect’s home is worth and demonstrate that a skilled human has the best insight and experience to accurately price your home—and that you are the best human to provide this service.

You will learn why the market sets the price, and why competition and condition are the largest pricing factors. Chapter 3 also includes steps to create an incomparable CMA and how to calculate accurate valuations from research and comparables.  

The chapter summary includes:

  • How to help prospects understand price and value in minutes. (Page 67)
  • Simple steps to creating a fair market value estimate. (Page 79)
  • The art of selecting comps to create an incomparable CMA. (Page 81)

Insider info: Chapter three has the most math and stats homework but do not skip it. Telling stories with data has become a key skill for real estate pros,

Chapter 4: Using CMAs for Prospecting and Staying Connected

If readers take nothing from this book except that the modern CMA can help:

  • Get more listing presentations and win them
  • Use CMAs for prospecting and outreach
  • Help agents win with buyers
  • Generate leads on autopilot
  • Maintain client loyalty
  • Power up your social media campaigns 

It will be worth the price of admission. When we saw creative agents using CMAs in their prospecting, we began to develop ways to automate and streamline those efforts to generate even more leads.

 “What’s the Current Market Value of Your Home?”

That simple question is probably the most powerful call to action (or CTA) in real estate history. Think about it. That question is also basically what gave birth to the Zestimate and changed the course of our industry.

Chapter 4 includes the most effective best practices, tricks and tactics I have learned from many conversations with the nation’s top agents. These hacks include how to make fast personal connections with CMAs, the power of direct marketing, and how to grow your sphere of influence. 

Once you’ve taken the time to develop CMA expertise for property valuations, and curating neighborhood information, it only makes sense to use social channels to showcase that expertise.

Social media is a powerful way to generate leads while building trust and a community around your brand, so we provide a list of killer social strategies from our friend Katie Lance in Chapter 8.

  • The most powerful call to action in real estate history. (Page 168)
  • Five fast-and-foolproof methods to prospect with CMAs. (Page 171)
  • Lead generation, and why the sphere makes your career. (Page 186)

Insider info: Chapter 4 includes the “coffee house hack” which is a simple way to generate free real estate leads while you’re getting your caffeine fix. 


Stay tuned for Part two of The Art of the CMA: An insider’s guide by
Greg Robertson and Charles Warnock


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