Home Appraisal Options During a Divorce

Sep 03

Home Appraisal Options During a Divorce

Home Appraisal Options During a Divorce

The truth is, you and your soon-to-be-ex probably won’t ever agree with the valuation of your home completely. You’ve raised your children in this home, cooked meals for the family in this home, and you’ve even marked the wall in the door frame with the growing heights of your children. There is no way that anyone could put a dollar value on those things, of course. However, Courts face a dilemma when the parties cannot agree on what the home is worth, regardless of which party will ultimately be awarded the asset. When dividing community property assets in a divorce, there will be three general steps: 

  1. Identify all property owned by the parties;
  2. Place a value on each asset owned by the parties; and 
  3. Decide which party should receive which asset(s) and which portion should be awarded.
Table of Contents

Step One

This is usually the easiest step, but this step can be more difficult if a spouse has never handled any of the finances and/or merely lacks knowledge about it due to his or her lack of exposure to the finances; it is not uncommon for one spouse to be more in control and to have more knowledge regarding the parties’ finances. However, with the possibility aside, most of the time if you take the time to really think about the assets that you have, you can come up with a list of what you own.  After the assets have been identified, the Court will then begin to look for a value to be assigned. Here is where some cases hit a snag. What happens when the parties have differing opinions as to what their community property home is worth?

Step Two
Next, we’ll review the few options available to you when determining the value of real property in Texas. 

  • Check the Appraisal District’s Value 

If you have real property in Texas, you may be able to get a general idea of what the county values your property as. This value is not binding on the Court and is oftentimes not enough evidence alone to prove the value of real property when the value is in dispute. However, this could be a useful resource when trying to get an estimate on what the property may be valued at; this is especially helpful to those who have no idea at all what their home is worth. In other words, if your home is in Harris County, Texas for example, visiting the Harris County Appraisal District’s website should provide you with a good starting point to figuring out the true value of your home. 

  • The Parties May Hire a Professional Property Appraiser to Share

The most reliable way to get the value of your home is by hiring a professional to appraise the home. If you and your spouse are able to agree on using one Professional Property Appraiser and if you agree beforehand that you will both accept the value given by the Professional Property Appraiser, you can certainly hire one Professional Property Appraiser. The Professional Property Appraiser will take many factors into consideration such as, but not limited to the renovations made, damages to the home, and/or the current “market” value of your home.  In cases such as these, the parties typically agree to split the cost of hiring the Professional Property Appraiser 50/50 and even work together in the selection of a specific Professional Property Appraiser to do the job. After the Professional Property Appraiser appraises the property, the parties will receive the valuation. This information will be extremely useful to the Court when determining the value of your home. 

  • The Parties May Each Hire Their Own Professional Property Appraiser

Finally, there is an option of each party hiring their own Professional Property Appraiser. This will typically occur when the parties cannot agree on either the value that should be assigned to home and/or which Professional Property Appraiser to hire for the job of appraising it.  The parties typically will each pay for the cost of their own Professional Property Appraiser if there are not enough community funds available to cover the cost, for example.  After both Professional Property Appraisers hired by the parties have determined a value, the true debate begins. That is because chances are that the Professional Property Appraiser will in fact arrive at a different value than the other. When this occurs, the Court will consider the evidence presented to support the valuations and decide what value to assign to the asset. Again, depending on the Court, the Court may also deduct the closing costs associated with the sale of any community real property from the value.

Step Three

Now the Court will use the applied appraised values to the property, allowing them to distribute assets and/or portions of assets. It is in your best interest to hire an attorney experienced in high-asset divorces to advocate for you. 

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