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Divorce – The Appraiser’s Role

Whether friendly or fierce, a divorce often times requires the services of an appraiser. In most cases there are two separate appraisals completed – one for each partner. Certain instances may even call for the use of a third appraiser. If two appraisals come in with two very different amounts, the judge may order a third independent appraisal to help settle the matter. So the appraiser’s role in a divorce is helping assess value for the division of property. Your attorney will advise you of this anytime there is property involved. While the cost of your divorce seems to be adding up quick enough to make your head spin, you cannot skimp on the real estate appraiser. It may seem like a formality, yet you should realize what you end up getting out of the split once the dust settles is based a great deal on the report from a professional appraiser. saltlake3In some cases the attorneys or the couple may agree to use just one appraiser. This works for couples who may already have an idea of what the value probably is and do not intend to be out for blood when it comes to splitting property and assets. So what does the process include?
    • The appraiser visits the property and will ask the homeowner a few questions. Some of the questions may be about potential issues or if there is anything that should be pointed out. Also, has there been any remodeling or upgrades the appraiser should know about?
 
    • The appraiser will also take measurements, check how recent the electric and plumbing is, peek in crawl spaces and attics, note the various amenities and upgrades throughout the home including their condition, and much more.
 
    • The appraiser will also ask about or be looking for things that make this house unique to the neighborhood. Do you have a swimming pool that could increase the value? Are you located near any adverse external factors such as a freeway or high voltage power lines? Or did you transform the lush green lawn into a concrete slab for a future oversized patio, which might actually hurt the home’s value?
 
    • After the inspection the appraiser then researches to compare your property with a minimum of three other similar properties within the area. These normally would be homes that had sold within the past 3-6 months. Homes should be comparable to square footage, number of bedrooms, condition, lot size, features, and other similar details.
 
  • From all of this compiled data the appraiser then provides a final value estimate for your home.
So how could appraisals differ? One of the main reasons are unique features. One appraiser may value the in-ground swimming pool much higher while another may feel, for that area, it should practically be standard. Also, keep in mind that all appraisers are not the same in terms of qualifications so you should always work with the most experienced appraisers and not hire an appraiser based strictly on the fee they’re charging…as that may really cost you in the long run. Keep in mind too that the value for a property tax assessment is not necessarily the same as the appraised value. These numbers can actually be quite different and usually are. An appraiser should be professional and have plenty of experience working with divorces. It is also important to find an unbiased third party to conduct the appraisal instead of someone close to either of the parties involved. I hope you found this helpful and if you have any additional questions, thoughts, or comments please leave them down below. The Aspen Appraisal Group specializes in appraisals for divorce, bankruptcy, estate, date of death, tax appeals, pre-listings, and more throughout the greater Salt Lake area. For more info contact us at our Salt Lake City office at (801) 260-2828 or our Heber City office at (435) 657-9630.  You can also contact us through our website at AspenAppraising.com.

21 Comments

  1. Bill Bostedo
    November 6, 2014

    Some great points Matt and I totally agree. When I have any appraisal referrals I will be sure to send them your way due to your honesty, integrity and professionalism.

    • Matt Frentheway
      November 11, 2014

      Thank you Bill, input from other industry professionals is always great to have! I am always happy to refer people your way when they need help in Pittsburgh! http://www.pennsylvaniaappraisers.com/

  2. Paul Rowe
    October 28, 2014

    Great info Matt! Thanks for sharing. You clearly know your stuff and I highly recommend anyone in the aspen area needing an appraisal give you a call!

    • Matt Frentheway
      October 28, 2014

      Thank you Paul! That was very nice of you to post that. I have known you for awhile, and that means a lot coming from you. And of course, whenever we have clients needing appraisals in the Park Ridge, IL and Chicago area, we are excited to refer them to you, as we know you will take good care of them. http://www.bestchicagoappraiser.com.

  3. Michael brandlin
    October 27, 2014

    Great blog post! This is a great explanation of the divorce process and what to expect. Thanks for sharing

  4. Jeff Hamric
    October 27, 2014

    Great post Matt. Couldn’t agree more. While all appraisals require the appraiser to be competent and thorough, divorce appraisals require that the appraiser know more about the home and the market area than the owner or a local Realtor!

    Often times divorce situations that start out friendly seem to turn fierce with no prior warning. That is the time where whichever party hired you will be happy that they did not go with the cheapest appraiser, but the best qualified. Matt and Aspen Appraisal Group are the best choice. If you choose them, you won’t be sorry!

    • Matt Frentheway
      October 28, 2014

      Thank you Jeff for the comment. I know you have had several experiences doing appraisals in these situations, and the assignment cannot be taken lightly- especially when it is possible to go to court. I appreciate your input and advise- and I know the clients we refer to you in the Sacramento, CA area are always treated fairly. If anyone reads this from that area, please visit Jeff and his team at http://www.sacramentoappraisalgroup.net.

  5. John Tsiaousis
    October 27, 2014

    Very good points. Choosing the best qualified appraiser, versus the cheapest appraiser, is the way to go. I often tell people “whether you use the most qualified appraiser or the cheapest appraiser, either way the impact of either appraisal impacts you the homeowner. This is a very important time in your life, better to hire someone that knows what their doing.”

    • Matt Frentheway
      October 28, 2014

      John that is a very good point. We like to say, tongue in cheek of course, you can have fast, cheap, or accurate. But you get to choose only one. Thanks for your input. We always refer clients your way when they need appraisals in the Chicago area. http://www.chicagolandappraisals.com

  6. Mike Turner
    October 24, 2014

    This would make a good article to send out to a target list of Family Law attorneys using Constant Contact or similar. They would find the information useful and, at the same time, let them know about the excellent service at http://www.AspenAppraising.com.

    • Matt Frentheway
      October 28, 2014

      Hey that is a great idea Mike! I will be referring my clients in need of appraisals in the Los Angeles area to Mike at http://www.turnersappraisals.com. Thank you for the input Mike.

  7. Gary Kristensen
    October 23, 2014

    Nice article Aspen Appraising. You are correct. Divorces are an area where a qualified appraiser is extremely important. I did a divorce appraisal where the other appraiser did not take into consideration the fact that the subject had some major issues that will cause problems with financing the property and dramatically impact the marketability. When the other appraiser was questioned about why these issues were not analyzed in the report and why all of the comparables used were financeable, the other appraiser just said that he is not a home inspector and that all of the comparables he used are estimated to be overall similar. Basically, the other appraiser was inexperienced and sidestepped the issues with the property. An appraiser who does not know how to correctly handle a property like this could cost one side in the divorce tens of thousands of dollars. My point is, hire good appraisers like the ones at Aspen Appraisal and save real money.

    • Matt Frentheway
      October 23, 2014

      Thank you Gary. That is a very good point you brought up. Things like cracked foundations, wood rot, mold, etc can have a serious implication on financing- and it would be terrible to be caught on the short end of the stick! Whenever we have clients needing appraisals in Portland, we always refer them to http://www.aqualityappraisal.com, for the very reason of what you just posted.

  8. Mike Coyle
    October 23, 2014

    Matt, great breakdown of the divorce appraisal process. Thanks for posting.

    • Matt Frentheway
      October 23, 2014

      Thank you Mike! I appreciate you reading it!

      • Matt Frentheway
        October 28, 2014

        I also forgot to mention that if anyone reading this who needs a great appraiser in Philidelphia area, look up Michael at http://www.coyleappraisalgroup.com. They will do a great job!

  9. Ryan Bunch
    October 23, 2014

    Very informative. I didn’t realize choosing the right appraiser carries more value in a divorce appraisal. However, I do have a question:

    Let’s say me and my loved one (well, not anymore) had been trying to sell our house previously to no avail. Perhaps these financial problems had an impact on the divorce.

    Whatever the case, I’m wondering:
    Let’s say my last appraisal was between 6-12 months old. Is it really that important that I get an updated appraisal specifically for my divorce?

    Thanks!

    • Matt Frentheway
      October 23, 2014

      That is a good question Ryan. I think it depends. If your market has been fairly stable for that long, then it probably would do no good to get a new appraisal. If the market has been changing however, I would recommend it. A increase or decrease in value will affect how much money one of the parties needs to come up with to finalize the assets in the divorce. And of course, if your attorney recommends it, then go with that. I hope that helps. Thank you for the comment:)

  10. Jonathan Montgomery
    October 23, 2014

    Very good information. I’ll sharing this with some of agents that often ask me about divorce appraisals.

    • Matt Frentheway
      October 23, 2014

      Thank you Jonathan! I hope it will help you in your business as well.

    • Matt Frentheway
      October 28, 2014

      Thank you Jonathan. We have had a great response with Realtors. I am always happy to refer people in the Washington DC area to http://www.cliffroseappraisals.com, as Jonathan and his team do a great job!

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