Sec 8 Local HA not helpful, not answering my FMR rent questions

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My Local Housing Authority is not responding to my email. We called and found they are not friendly nor helpful.
My first question, are the small area FMRs published on https://huduser.gov, is that just a max that can be charged? What I mean is if the local fair market rents are not that high, will the HA still allow/approve rent well above FMR for that zip code? Target area is Southern Maryland.
My second question, how can I determine if the market has a need before I purchase the investment property? Post a phony on Craigslist? Maybe gosection8.com?

The local HA sets an ratio compared to market rate that they will pay. Usually that is 100%, but sometimes it is a little higher - like 110%. Very occasionally a poorly run HA will set the rent below market, say at 90%, but that results in a loss of owners who are willing to participate, so why they do that is beyond me. The numbers on the HUD website including total housing budget, meaning rent plus utilities. Don't confuse that with rent only. The rental price must be both "reasonable" compared to local market rents and "affordable" for the tenant. In addition it must be within the FMR for the voucher size.

If you need more info, I wrote a blog about SEC 8 that covers the rent approval process in more depth.  You can find it here...

https://www.biggerpockets.com/...

Suffice it to say as long as you have something with 2+ bedroom and you are willing to make it look pretty, there will always be a demand among voucher holders.