Do You Need a Property Appraiser for Your Divorce?

Laura E. Shapiro -

A property appraiser can make a difference in your divorce.

The marital home and any other real property may be components of the marital estate. In many cases, the family home is the largest joint asset to deal with during a divorce. Knowing exactly how much it is worth is important.

A property appraisal can cost several hundred dollars, but it is worth it in the end to ensure fair division in negotiations, mediation, or court.

Home with white picket fence

When Is a Property Appraiser Important in a Divorce?

If you own a home and are facing a divorce in Denver or elsewhere in Colorado, you will want a fair and accurate assessment of the value of your real estate. This is the only way to ensure you both get a fair division of marital property. 

If you wish to retain the house, if you want to get other assets in exchange for your portion of the equity, or if you want your spouse to buy you out of the home, you will want to know how much the property is worth.

Several things can happen to a home after a divorce. This includes:

  • The divorcing spouses can agree to sell the home and split the profits;
  • A court can order a house sold;
  • One spouse can keep the home and buy out the other spouse;
  • The court can award the house to one spouse while giving the other different assets.

No matter which of these situations you may end up in, it is imperative that you understand the correct and current value of your home and any other real estate before you sign any agreements.

Alternatives to Hiring a Property Appraiser During Your Divorce

Some people may try to avoid paying for a property appraisal by using comparative market analysis (CMA) to value their home or relying on the appraisal done by the bank during a refinance.

CMA is the tool real estate agents use to put a price on a home. While this may give you an idea as to the estimated market value based on nearby properties, these estimates are often higher than the true value of the home.

Bank appraisals, on the other hand, are generally skewed much lower than the actual value of the home since the object is to protect the bank’s interests.

Neither of these numbers provides the accurate appraisal you need if there is any disagreement about who gets the house. Only a recent property appraisal from a licensed appraiser will hold up in court during a divorce.

What Happens If We Cannot Agree on a Property Appraiser?

Some divorces are so strained that the warring couple cannot agree on the selection of an appraiser, much less a fair property value. When this occurs, each party will often hire their own appraiser.

In most cases, the appraisers value the home in the same price range. If the appraisals differ drastically, the judge may average them or look to another source to value the home.

Of course, it will be easier and cheaper if you can find a way to reach an agreement on an independent third-party appraiser who can put a value on your home.

This way, you can split the cost of the appraisal and do not have to worry about fighting over the outcome.

It may be that a Judge requests a divorcing couple to get an appraisal, so the judge knows the fair market value of the marital home and any other real estate.

The Judge wants to ensure the accurate value is in the court records so that they can handle the division of property when the time comes.

Value Of The Residence Is Important

The value matters because:

  • It could play a role in determining maintenance and financial needs or determining the financial ability of the other to pay spousal support;
  • It helps set the price that one spouse must pay to buy the other’s equity interest;
  • It helps the parties and the court to know how to divide other marital assets to ensure a fair division.

Shapiro Family Law Can Guide You Through the Property Valuation and Division Process in Denver or Elsewhere in Colorado

At Shapiro Family Law, our team can help you get a fair and equitable property settlement during your Denver divorce. We take on even the most complex and high-asset cases.

We understand that getting the money you deserve — or remaining in your family home — is important to you, and we will take all the steps necessary to pursue that outcome.

Call us today at 303-695-0200 to learn more about our divorce, property division, and mediation services.

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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