Arm's Length Transaction

Arm’s Length Transaction: Definition, Importance, Working, And More

Finance 30 December 2023 5 Mins Read

An Arm’s Length Transaction works as per the arm’s length principle (ALP). This type of transaction happens between two independent parties. In this transaction, both parties act on their own self-interests. Here, both the buyer and seller in the transaction are independent and have equal power of bargaining. They are not under pressure and are intent on bringing in the best deal for themselves.

In this article, you will learn about arm’s length transactions in general and how they work in different situations. Apart from that, you will also learn the importance of such transactions in businesses. Furthermore, we will discuss how an arm’s length transaction differs from other types of transactions. Hence, to learn more about this transaction system, read on through to the end of the article.

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What Is An Arm’s Length Transaction?

According to Investopedia,

An arm’s length transaction refers to a business deal in which buyers and sellers act independently without one party influencing the other. Arm’s length transactions assert that both parties act in their own self-interest and are not subject to pressure from the other party. They also assure others that there is no collusion between the buyer and seller.

To ensure fairness in an arm’s length transaction, both parties in the deal have equal access to information. Here, both parties act independently of one another and generally have no relationship with each other. This allows both parties to act primarily on their own interests.

Since such a deal does not happen between family members and companies with related shareholders, both parties can work independently. If there is family or friendly pressure, the independence and self-interest aspects go out.

On the other hand, such types of transactions and deals help ensure that properties or any other items in the market are priced at fair market value. Apart from that, such a transaction also strongly affects the financing and taxation aspects of the transaction. Such types of transactions are common in the real estate industry.

Generally, an arm’s length transaction is a type of sale that is a way to ensure that the deal is fair.

How Does An Arm’s Length Transaction Work?

The Corporate Finance Institute says –

An arm’s length transaction, also known as the arm’s length principle (ALP), indicates a transaction between two independent parties in which both parties are acting in their own self-interest. Both buyer and seller are independent, possess equal bargaining power, are not under pressure or duress from the opposing party, and are acting in their own self-interest to attain the most beneficial deal.

Arm’s length transactions are quite common in the real estate industry. This is because the sale of the property affects the parties associated with the deal, as well as the lenders of the money.

The following are the major stages of an arm’s length transaction:

1. The transaction begins when some individual or business offers a product in the market for sale. This can be a fixed asset or a real estate property. However, this can be both tangible and intangible.

2. Next, both the seller and the buyer interact with each other. The interaction occurs based on various sales techniques and the situation of the industry.

3. In this stage, the parties start negotiating the price since both are acting as per their own interests. This is helpful for both parties to agree to a price to get to the closure of the deal.

4. When the transaction ends, the parties to the deal either finalize the agreement or at least one party to the deal abandons it. Here, one might abandon the deal for a variety of reasons.

Importance Of Arm’s Length Transactions

According to Indeed.com,

Arm’s length transactions are important because they help to determine the fair market value of a product. By definition, fair market value is an agreed-upon price between a buyer and a seller who are acting independently, free from coercion or pressure from without. […] the buyer and seller may have different prices in mind, but they must come to an agreement that reflects the interests of both parties.

An arm’s length transaction leads to the formation of a property’s fair market value (FMV). If two parties in a transaction are involved in the sale or buying of a property, the final price becomes the FMV. However, this holds true when both parties in the transaction have equal power for bargaining. Furthermore, both need to have equal information on the property.

To reach close to the price of the FMV, both parties need to agree on the price. Here, the seller of the property needs the price to be as high as possible. On the other hand, the buyer of the property would like the price to be as low as possible.

Additionally, you must also understand that the buyer and the seller are not the only ones in the transaction. An arm’s length transaction also has a major impact on the finances that a bank offers for the property. In addition to that, it also impacts local and municipal taxes related to the property.

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Arm’s Length Transaction Vs. Other Transactions

An arm’s length transaction mainly comprises strangers who solely focus on their self-interests during a transaction. This helps determine the fair market value of the property in the right manner.

However, if the parties have some kind of relationship with one another, like family members or related shareholders, then they do not engage in an arm’s length transaction. These transactions are also called arm-in-arm transactions. Here, the buyers and sellers of the property have an identity of interest.

In the latter case, the existing relationship (formal or personal) influences the terms of the transaction.

Wrapping Up

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A passionate writer and an avid reader, Soumava is academically inclined and loves writing on topics requiring deep research. Having years of content writing experience, Soumava also loves creating blogs in other domains, including digital marketing, business, technology, travel, and sports.

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