So get the most recent comps and if you are not completely in love with the place start with the lowest option, if you love the place, than start someplace in the middle (between highest and lowest sold price in the neighborhood). Just like Don said they can take it, counter or be insulted and loose a buyer. If the place has been sitting on the market forever the agent is probably desperate to get rid of it since listings do come with expenses.
Also find out if they had any price reductions and how often. Chances are if they did not than they do not really want to sell, and, or are testing the market.
Best of luck
First, find out what the true comps are. The discrepancy between assessment and list price is odd, but there could be a lot of reasons for it--everything from an old tax assessment (maybe that's what they sold for 3 years ago) to simply a vastly overpriced unit. You really, really need good comps to know what the real value is. It's good that you've seen nearby condos, and are basing your initial price on those. But you still might be off by 10%, 15%, or more. So: Get good comps.
Second, don't worry about your husband's advice. (Hey, Realtors know that wives make most of the decisions, anyway! I'm only partly joking; women really do make those decisions--to buy or not to buy--far often than guys. And that's why Realtors really do pay attention to women. Now if only car salesmen could learn the same lesson...)
But my point is: Do not worry about insulting a seller. Never. It's your money. It's a place where you might live. It's your financial future. Look: If you're prepared to move on anyway if you can't get it for the "right" price, what do you care if the seller's insulted? The seller will have 3 options when he/she receives your offer: (1) Accept, (2) Counter, or (3) Reject. If he/she counters, it indicates some level of interest. If it's rejected, you didn't want the condo at that high price anyway. And if it's accepted, you get the condo for your price.
And think of it this way: The seller should be insulted by the people who have looked at the condo and not made an offer. You're indicating you like the condo enough to go to the time and effort to make an offer.
So get the comps, then make an offer based on those comps and your level of interest and ability to pay.
Assessed values, especially when the reassessment has just been completed like the one in Hampton, is a great way to obtain "value' if there have been no recent sales and there are no other units in the condo association for sale.
When did you check the assessment? Hampton just had a total reassessment for the entire town (available after November 1, 2008) and, quite frankly, the assessor did a great job with very few exceptions (this may be one of them, I wouldn't know whithout knowing the property.) He is quoting the assessment to be 100% assessment to market.
And contrary to the thought that assessments mean nothing, assessments are more often than not a valuable piece of information (as long as you know the equalization factor (or assessment-to-market ratio -- same number, different terminology.) It is one of the pieces of the valuation puzzle that should be taken into account as well as comps when buying real estate. Remember, for the most part, the assessor is the only licenced appraiser in the real estate buying scenario (pre bank appraisal), so it would be fooled hearted to disregard that figured without justification.
Market Value is the key. Hampton, NH assesments are way overdue. They have not done a re-measure/re-list in years. You need to contact a LOCAL, very local REALTOR who knows the Beach and can communicate; future developments and potential resale/rental opportunities that may exist. I was selling condo's very similar to what you are describing. How long has it been on the market? What neighborhood is it in? Is the land leased? Whar rental amount is realistic? What is the market history on this unit? I am a Hampton Beach REALTOR and could help you make a very solid offer on a property you want. What is the big deal with the basement if you will not use it or it floods?! email@example.com
best of luck,
Get a realtor and comps. Your husband is right, you may insult them and they may not want to deal with you any further.