A home is often the largest asset owned by a couple. And during a divorce, an accurate valuation of that asset is critical step in determining what to do with that home.
There are three options for assessing the value of your home, each with their own pros and cons:
1. Tax Assessed Value
A Tax Assessed Value is one established by your local tax appraiser, usually your county. While this assessment is available annually, at no direct cost to the owner of the home, the accuracy of Tax Assessed Values is often questionable. Tax valuations are generally significantly lower – as much as 10-20% lower – than market value. The court is likely to give little weight to a Tax Assessed Value.
2. Real Estate Agent or REALTOR® Valuation
A Real Estate Agent or REALTOR® may perform a market based valuation at little to no cost. While such an appraisal will take into account the current market situation, most real estate or REALTORs® valuations will trend to a slight over-valuation to maximize the sale price. Again, the court is likely to give little weight to such valuations.
3. Professional Appraisal
Depending upon the size and location of the home, a valuation performed by a professional property appraiser can run from $300 to over $1000. While this is not inexpensive as an out of pocket expense, the fee will deliver the most accurate valuation, taking into account the market, the condition of the home, and all the features of the home. For a home valued at $300,000, a $300 appraisal fee is 1% of the home’s value – a worthwhile expense to reduce attorney’s fees, set realistic expectations for the divorcing couple, and lay the foundation for smarter property separation decisions throughout the divorce. The court will be most accepting of a valuation performed by a professional appraiser.
You and your attorney should select the best approach for your situation, with a full understanding of the pros and cons of each option.