Even after a short marriage, the complex legal and financial entanglements can make it very difficult to fairly divide your property during a divorce.
In many cases, the largest and most valuable item a couple owns is also the most hotly contested: the family home. Whether one party would like to keep the home or both parties want to sell, a professional residential appraisal is a necessity for determining the value of a real estate investment during divorce proceedings. Here, a home appraiser is an objective third party only looking at the value of the property without siding with one spouse or the other. This helps the court create a fair settlement for both parties. Every divorce is different, but Arkansas generally requires an even distribution of assets, so accuracy in the appraisal process is essential.
What to Expect During a Home Appraisal
A residential appraiser will begin learning about your home long before he enters the front door. Your appraiser will first take a comprehensive and objective look at your property by seeking out recent home sales in your specific neighborhood to get a sense of the market. He will examine the outside of your home, from the structure and foundation to the materials used and current state of repair.
Once inside, the appraiser will review the features of your home, including the kitchen, bathrooms, plumbing, fixtures, and appliances. Your furniture and décor is not included in the appraisal, since they are not a permanent part of your home.
After reviewing current sales figures and the inside and outside of your home, the appraiser will take a look at the things that make your home more valuable. Upgrades like custom cabinetry, heated floors, and fireplaces will add to its value. Any dated fixtures or components can work against the final value of your home and will be noted during the appraisal.
You and your attorney can review the final appraisal and come up with a proposal for dividing your property. If you don’t understand the true value of your investment, you could end up on the losing side of your divorce settlement.
Tips for Divorce and Real Estate Investments
Not a single aspect of a divorce is fun, but slogging through the financial details and getting an accurate picture of your assets can help you divide things fairly. Some items included in your property settlement are fairly easily valued. But the family home is different:
- During a divorce, the negative aspects of property count, too. Even though your home is considered an asset, the mortgage is a debt and needs to be assigned to one of the parties as well.
- When dividing up real estate, the home or other property in question could go to either spouse, or be sold, with the proceeds divided between the former spouses.
- Don’t overlook liens. If your home has one or more liens against it, they will need to be satisfied before you can sell or divide the proceeds from your home.
- Whether you want to retain the property or not, you should never sign over your rights without also being relieved of the obligations or mortgages against the property. You could end up owning nothing but still paying a hefty mortgage.
- If the home is to be sold or assigned to one party, the tax, credit and insurance obligations surrounding the asset and sale need to be reviewed as well.
Determining the current value of a home is a complex issue, and when calculated incorrectly, it can lead to an inequitable property settlement and bad feelings on all sides. As a home is usually the largest asset a couple owns, you should request a real estate appraisal to determine the value of your investment in a divorce settlement. Contact Ferstl Valuation Services to handle your home appraisal by calling us at our Little Rock office at 501-313-0641 or our Fayetteville office at 479-595-0245.