Fair market value is the true value of a home, and when you buy a home, clearly you don’t want to pay more than fair market value. That may be an obvious statement, but what is not so obvious is how to know the fair market value of the home you want to buy. When you discuss drafting an offer with your buyer’s agent, you’ve got to be very good at figuring out what the true fair market value is (or at least your Realtor needs to have that skill).

Fair Market Value

Fair Market Value and the Comparative Market Analysis

In a large market, like Tacoma or Seattle, you will have thousands of homes in the multiple listing service (MLS) inventory, and you will also have hundreds of sales every month. A 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,800 square foot home in a middle class neighborhood will be easy to analyze. There will be dozens, if not hundreds, of homes that are almost identical and which sold in the last six months, and so coming up with an accurate fair market value is easy, and it’s easy to identify the average time period it takes to sell a similar home.

But in a very small market with a small inventory and a small number of buyers arriving to look at homes, many homes in the Sequim inventory do not have comps. In other words, there may be no homes recently sold like the one you want to buy, so fair market value cannot be calculated with any certainty. The math can get a little fuzzy when you don’t have comparable sales.

Fair Market Value and Your Offer

Even professional appraisers don’t have any magic wands in a market lacking comparable sales data. One has to be a bit cautious on this subject, because some sellers and some listing agents may think they know the fair market value, but they may just be guessing. On the other hand, there may be a particular house that does have 5 or 6 good comps, and then fair market value is easier to understand.

When you discuss drafting an offer, discuss value from a number of perspectives with your buyer’s agent, because your offer should be no higher than fair market value.

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