- Divorce Appraisal
Our focus is to provide excellent appraisal service for divorce situations. While most appraisers will be empathetic for typical home sale situations, a private divorce appraiser specializes in providing skills in the heightened emotional issues that accompany this appraisal process or home sale.
California follows community property rules. The law in California requires that all community property be divided equally, so long as there is no written agreement in place that dictates the division of property. The appraisal process ensures that all community property is valued properly so that it can be equally split between spouses in a divorce.
Divorce appraisals may also be different because there may be a retrospective element involved when determining value. In other words, the valuation may be based on a date in the past – such as filing date or date of separation.
Although it doesn’t happen often, divorce appraisers may be asked to testify in court as part of the divorce proceeding. That is why it’s critical for the appraiser to be a neutral third party who has been approved by both sides. An appraisal can take on extra added legal importance, making it critical that it can be legally defended in a court of law.
Preparing for a divorce home appraisal is essential. If a home is being sold outright, then it’s in both party’s best interests to make sure the home is appraised for the highest value possible. But, if one spouse wants to buy the other spouse out, then they’ll be hoping for the lowest fair market value.
The appraisal process begins with an appraiser coming to the property for an inspection. The spouses are questioned about the property, whether there are any particular issues with the property, and then the appraiser does a physical inspection of the property. This includes taking measurements, looking at crawl spaces, checking HVAC, plumbing, and electric, inspecting any additional amenities of the property, and checking out the outdoor aspects of the property. This also includes any additional features that the spouses have added since purchasing the property, such as a swimming pool, physical addition, or a wine cellar.
After the physical visit, an appraiser will then research the legal description, title, and whether any liens exist on the property. The property is also compared using a template to at least three comparable pieces of real estate in the area that have sold within the last six months. The appraiser will try to find properties that have similar square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, general condition, and making adjustments to the value based on these comparisons. The final step in the appraisal process is an arms-length analysis of the property where a final valuation for the property is reached.
The value of the property is the fair market value as of the date of the divorce. Fair market value assumes that neither the buyer or seller is under pressure to enter the transaction and that this would be the agreed upon price for the property. The appraisal process is similar for pieces of personal property, as well, with a physical inspection and comparisons to similar items of personal property in order to find the true value of the item.
A fresh coat of paint and a thorough decluttering effort can add value, as can a top to bottom home cleaning, generous applications of WD-40 on squeaky doors and cabinets, sprucing up your curb appeal and landscaping.
Make notes for things that you want to point out to your appraiser, such as upgraded insulation, double-pane windows, upgraded appliances and fixtures, and so forth. Appraisers are pretty good at spotting these things, but it never hurts to help your cause.