Definition of fair market value
fair market value (plural fair market values)
- (finance) The price at which the buyer and seller are willing to do business.
Fair market value (FMV) is an estimate of the market value of a property, based on what a knowledgeable, willing, and unpressured buyer would probably pay to a knowledgeable, willing, and unpressured seller in the real estate market. An estimate of fair market value may be founded either on precedent or extrapolation. Fair market value differs from the intrinsic value that an individual may place on the same asset based on their own preferences and circumstances.
Since market transactions are often not observable for assets such as privately-held businesses and most personal and real property, FMV must be estimated. An estimate of Fair Market Value is usually subjective due to the circumstances of place, time, the existence of comparable precedents, and the evaluation principles of each involved person. Opinions on value are always based upon subjective interpretation of available information at the time of assessment. This is in contrast to an imposed value, in which a legal authority (law, tax regulation, court, etc.) sets an absolute value upon a product or a service.
A real estate sale, in lieu of an eminent domain taking, would not be considered a fair market transaction since one of the parties (i.e., the seller) was under undue pressure to enter into the transaction. Other examples of sales that would not meet the test of fair market value include a liquidation sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, distressed sale, and similar types of transactions. There is no longer any such value in real estate appraising as Fair Market Value, the correct term is Market value.
* United States
In United States tax law, the definition of fair market value is found in the United States Supreme Court decision in the Cartwright case:
The fair market value is the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. United States v. Cartwright, 411 U. S. 546, 93 S. Ct. 1713, 1716-17, 36 L. Ed. 2d 528, 73-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) ¶ 12,926 (1973) (quoting from U.S. Treasury regulations relating to Federal estate taxes, at 26 C.F.R. sec. 20.2031-1(b)).
The term fair market value is used throughout the Internal Revenue Code among other federal statutory laws in the USA including Bankruptcy, many state laws, and several regulatory bodies.
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