For a lot of couples that go through a separation and/or divorce, the marital home is one of the most valuable assets that the couple owns together. Because of this, it is essential to obtain an accurate valuation of the marital home so a couple can fully understand the value of the entire marital estate.

If both parties cannot agree on how the marital estate will be divided, an accurate home valuation can become very important. Typically, each spouse obtains his or her own valuation if they cannot agree to one valuation. The valuations may often be different, which can bring up disagreements between parties. For example, a wife who wants to keep the marital home and negotiate a buy-out of her husband’s share of the home may argue that the home’s value is low, while her husband may want a higher value assigned to the marital home if he moves out and wants the wife to buy him out.

There are several ways to determine the value of a home. Below are three common methods:

  1. Hire a professional appraiser–  A professional appraiser takes into consideration the general condition of the house, the quality and condition of the construction and foundation, and any other factors that may affect the value of the home. When looking for a professional appraiser, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney as he or she likely has a reputable recommendation. The appraiser should provide a detailed report which includes comparable home sales and takes into account the size, features, and limitations of the home being appraised. The appraiser should also have substantial experience in residential real estate appraisals and experience providing her opinions of value to a court or an arbitration.
  2. Look at comparable surrounding properties– The listing prices and recent sales prices of nearby homes can help determine the estimated value of the marital home. There are some public sites, such as Zillow or Redfin, that show listing prices and recent sales prices that can be accessed by the public. Be careful as these sites are not always up to date on many key factors such as square footage and amenities of the property.
  3. Obtain a comparative market analysis (CMA)– A CMA can be obtained for little to no cost from a local real estate agent. Though not as detailed as a professional appraisal, a CMA provides an agent’s evaluation of the home and local market to provide an estimate of value. Make sure you ask for the realistic sales price of the property and not the starting or asking price as they are not typically the same.

Regardless of the method one uses to obtain a home valuation, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney as these matters can become very complex. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.