You need an agent. You are a first time buyer and you don't know what you don't know. Having a PROFESSIONAL representing your best interests will, most likely, cost you nothing out of pocket. There's only so much we can address here in this general forum. We don't even know where the house is to advise you whether or not this seems like a fair price or if there have been lots of multiples in this area, or a dozen other issues that need to be researched and assessed by the professional in place to represent your best interests!
Do yourself a favor, seek out an agent who represents buyers. It will do you a WORLD of good when you negotiate this deal.
True, it's been on the market almost a year, but that was when the homeowner was attempting to do a short sale. The property went into foreclosure in 2010 and went back to the lender in January 2011. Essentially the clock has been reset to 31 days (which is how the bank sees it and how they determine their method of calendar mark downs).
There's an assessment balance of $1,436 which may or may not be paid by the bank - depending on how the purchase agreement is written and the restrictions on the assessment itself. These assessments were popular in the western suburbs to pay for repairs where associations didn't have the money. One thing you should check is if that is the sum total of the assessment or whether that is just one years assessment on a multi-year assessment.
Association dues are in the high range @ $303.00 /month, especially since this is a townhouse and you're just getting garbage, snow removal, lawn care and water (no electricity or gas). Oh and no pets.
My guess is the first markdown might be 10 percent and should be occurring soon as the property has been on the market for 30 days. You can wait it out and hope for more mark downs but there's no guarantee it won't sell before dropping to what you want to offer. (In other words I would guess - and it's a guess - that if you wrote an offer tomorrow you could ask for 10 percent off and get the deal - but ask for more as they will counter offer).
The most recent sale was 1284 in Oct 2010. It's larger and nicer and sold for $110. A similar unit to this one sold in 9/2009 for $68,400 (which is where I would guess the agent got their comps). But since that time period, average sale prices have dropped around 5 percent in Hopkins.
As always, rely on your agent to get you comps - albeit there isn't much out there to compare and then you can decide what to offer. The worst they can do is say no.
See link for agent specifics on writing an offer. This will give you a clue as to how difficult these transactions can be and how you must move FAST and jump HIGH when they tell you to.
You said you have done a lot of research then let me ask you: what is the LOWEST comparable sold home within 3 months and LOWEST current Listing ? if you are 10% lower than the lower of the two, then you are wasting your time.
Get a realtor on your side to help you research the information you will need to make an informed decision. What have you got to lose? You have a lot more to gain getting professional advice from a seasoned realtor to does this kind of work day after day/
Also do research about price drops on the property, when and how much. Have your agent do some digging.
I would check the comps and speak with your realtor. Like Patrick said, if you go to low they may not even bother countering as asset managers tend to get "insulted" over low ball offers without considering ow realistic they maybe.
Another good point Patrick said, the property may have to be insurable if your using a typical FHA loan.