Find Out How Fannie Mae Can Help You As An Investor by Saen Higgins

Here at the US Tax Lien Association we have decades of combined real estate investing experience. One of our student mentors, and Tony’s and my longtime friend, Ed Mitchell - spent many years working as an appraiser. He knows how to evaluate properties, and how to estimate their fair market value. This skillset is extremely important as an investor so I would like to pass on his lessons to our readers.

You’ve heard it from us before, but I’ll say it again, you make your money in real estate when you buy. This is a golden tenant you must always keep in mind. So, you can understand why it is so important to properly estimate the fair market value, or FMV, of a prospective investment property. If you don’t know what a property is worth, how can you determine a purchase price? Rehab costs and needs? Your profits? Really, the entire deal hinges on the value of the property.

So, how can Fannie Mae help you in this regard? Well, Fannie Mae has guidelines for selecting homes as comparables, or ‘comps’, for appraisers to follow. Just to go down a rabbit hole for a second...Fannie Mae has these guidelines in place because it holds lenders responsible for the accuracy of the appraisal and marketability of homes. Fannie Mae doesn’t offer loans directly, instead it’s a government backed agency that buys the mortgages from banks and the like so that those institutions can lend to more homeowners.

It’s in Fannie Mae’s best interest to purchase sound mortgages, so their comparable guidelines are an excellent resource. Some of the guidelines are listed below:

  • Settled Dates - Preferably the comparables should be of properties that have sold recently. General rule of thumb is no later than 6 months old.

  • Square Footage - The comparables square footage should be of similar size, this will play into the number of beds/baths which we will discuss next.

  • Beds/Baths - Do your best to mirror the number of beds and baths in the living space. A 4 bed, 2 bath is typically more desirable than a 3 bed 1 bath home. A small shift like that could make a big difference in selling price and desirability.

  • Distance - Try to pick comparables that are within a 1 mile radius. Yes, this could be difficult for more rural properties, for those you can expand that radius because of need. Even better, try to stick to the same neighborhood and zip code.

  • Build and Style - Look for comparables that are of a similar build. Types of builds include on site builds, prefabs, and modulars. Styles can include cabin, todor, and mid century.
I know this can seem like a lot of factors to take into consideration when looking for comparables - but it’s be patient and take the time to do it, and do it right. If you visit Fannie Mae’s website you can find the guidelines in more detail.

Remember, it’s important that you estimate the fair market value correctly before purchase. This is a skillset you should perfect.

Tony Martinez

Saen Higgins is the Co-Founder of US Tax Lien Association. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of investing in Tax Lien Certificates and Tax Foreclosed Properties. He has been training and speaking internationally for over 25 years. Saen is passionate about sharing his philosophies on real estate investment and creating financial freedom. His extensive knowledge in the field of self-directed retirement accounts has changed the quality of life for thousands and the way they invest. Saen’s devotion to helping people creates true financial independence and is only matched by his business partner, Tony Martinez.


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645 Church St, Bound Brook, NJ

2683 sq. ft.
14,810 sq. ft.


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