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How Do You Know If You Are Paying the Fair Market Value for a Home?

By definition, ‘fair market value’ or FMV, is just that, the reasonable price offered and accepted for a given property, compared to similar properties recently sold, and within the same relative location, as the property in question. Because both the seller and prospective buyer both wish to enter into a beneficial agreement the onus is incumbent upon them both to have current and accurate information about similar sales, of similar properties, and within a relatively short distance from the property being bid on. For you as a buyer, how and from where you come by this information is very important.

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You will have hopefully hired the services of an agent who is quite familiar with the type of home you want, and the area in which you have chosen to look. But if you haven’t, or they are not thorough enough in their research, you could end up with a price and terms that are inflated beyond the FMV. One way to check a real estate agent’s assessment is to ask them to please provide you with a report on the said property as if they were going to list it for sale, rather than for you to buy it. This ‘reverse engineering’ of the process can yield some good results, and help you to better understand the agent’s determination of a good buying price. A further watch point is that a good agent will have already done this for you, before you having to suggest it.

Doing a bit of Internet and classifieds legwork of your own can be very educational. Do searches for recent sales and listings of properties that suit the same criteria as you have already compiled for you housing hunt. Through analyzing the results, you can gauge whether or not your agent’s perceptions match those of the market place. Be certain that your agent also knows that you wish to see all comparable listings, regardless of whether he feels they are exactly right for you or not. Some agents may be blinded to showing a listing because they will not realize the same commission for one than another. Unless you know them well, you will need to guard yourself by reviewing all possible properties currently for sale.

Although we insist that it is important to analyze criteria that are similar in detail, regarding all of the aspects of each property, it can also help to gather general information as well. In this way you will get a feel for the overall market, and you can also start to see which amenities, styles and sizes are in greater or less demand. Because markets, rates, and demand fluctuate, the more current the data, the more useful it can be. Try to avoid using sales statistics that are over a year old.

Keep your eye on your goal, and do not let emotions cloud your judgment. If you have been successful in accumulating enough data, on comparable sales, a trend will appear that is quite accurate and reliable. Don’t throw that all away because of a cute kitchen you love, or a whirlpool bathtub that looks inviting. Ultimately what you seek is a good investment. Compromises can be essential to your success. If you have found a great property, you can upgrade to these amenities at a later date, to further increase the value of your investment.

Keep in mind that sellers will probably be meeting and negotiating with many other buyers, if the property you are looking at is a decent one that is favorably priced to sell. Do not make the common mistake of cutting out research and legwork for a low-ball price offer. Sellers will perceive you to be unreasonable, lacking in true intent and a time waster. Although sellers must entertain most reasonable offers, and can not deny access to anyone based on discrimination, they are allowed to refuse your bid if it is not a fair one. You can also put your agent in a bind by employing these kinds of tactics. Unless the local market is depressed, the FMV, or a higher selling price, will prevail. Do not lose an opportunity to negotiate further by being unreasonable or worse, misinformed.

If you feel a seller is over pricing the property offered, compile a list of data that shows that. Either you, or your agent, can then sit with the seller and discuss a more acceptable offer. If the seller still refuses to be realistic about the current market place, demand and values, then it is time to move on and continue your search elsewhere for a better deal.

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