Divorce Appraisals

Marital dissolution and the division of marital assets is a very challenging and often upsetting experience. Finalizing a divorce involves many important decisions and the resulting changes such as "Who gets the house" and What is it worth"? There are generally two options regarding the marital home - it can be sold and the proceeds appropriately divided between the parties - one party can "buy out" the other and become an individual owner.  In either case, one or both parties will likely be advised to obtain an appraisal of the marital home by a certified real estate appraiser. This can quickly become an additional divorce complication as there are instances when two different appraisers could have very different opinions of the market value of the marital home. If a compromise is not possible between the disputing soon-to-be-ex spouses, the matter will go to a hearing and trial and the court will decide which of the two opinions is the most credible (worthy of belief). 

It is very important to know that real estate agents (Realtors) do not provide appraisals and are not Appraisers. If a real estate agent (Realtor) holds a license or certification issued by an appraisal licensing jurisdiction to represent themself as a real estate Appraiser, the real estate agent must clearly disclose which role they are representing to you. It cannot be both roles. Why? because real estate agents (Realtors) are acting as a fiduciary (advocate) and an Appraiser is prohibited from acting an advocate for the cause or interest of any party.  The scope of a real estate broker or salesperson license allows them to express a price opinion which is not the same as a certified market value opinion expressed by one who holds an appraisal credential. Common terms like market price and market value are confusing and mistakenly assumed to mean the same. However, they are very different economic concepts and the courts require an appraisal with a certified report containing a market value opinion (sometimes called a fair market value opinion) rather than a broker price opinion or CMA with a suggested list price.   

Divorce appraisals require a well supported, professional appraisal that is defensible and for a very good reason. Should the marital dispute escalate and become unreasonable, the matter involving the division of shared assets is likely to go to trial. In such a situation, the credibility of an appraisal report and the testimony services of an expert witness associated with each appraisal may be necessary. The cost of expert witness testimony is an additional cost to the litigants and is not related to legal representation costs. If expert testimony is necessary, the court will settle the matter based on their opinion as to which of the two different appraisal opinions is the most credible (unbiased, well supported and worthy of belief). Approximately 93% of all cases settle before trial.

When you order an appraisal service from me, you are assured that you will get the best in professional service, courtesy and due diligence quality. I also know how to handle the sensitivity of a divorce matter; regardless of which spouse is in need of a market value appraisal. I am committed to a high standard of care and independent professional practice while also remaining impartial and objective to assure public trust in the appraisal services I provide. For that reason, there may be times when I must decline involvement as an Appraiser in a divorce because of professional conflict of interest as it relates to the biased conduct and strategy of an attorney representing one of the parties. 

Attorneys and Accountants often rely on certified opinions when considering real property values. I understand their needs and am accustomed to dealing with all parties involved in many varied circumstances. I provide appraisal reports that meet the requirements of the courts and various other governmental entities. As an attorney advising your client in a divorce proceeding, your needs oftentimes include an appraisal to establish fair market value for the residential real property involved. Often the effective date of the appraisal differs from the actual date you engage the appraisal service. I am generally familiar with the federal rules of civil procedure and the ethical requirements necessary to perform a present or retrospective appraisal. The Ethics Rule of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) binds me to remain independent, impartial and objective and to protect confidentiality, thereby ensuring public trust in professional appraisal practice. I acknowledge that legal counsel are advocates for the cause and interests of their clients, however, as an Appraiser, I am prohibited from the practice of advocacy as that would create bias and breach public trust in my conduct.