Why Both Spouses Should Be Present for a Home Appraisal During a Divorce
If you are in the midst of a divorce, chances are your attorney will request that you and your spouse order a home appraisal a quickly as possible.
For many families, the marital home represents the largest asset acquired during a marriage, which means it is critical to find someone with the skills and expertise necessary for valuing your home as accurately and impartially as possible.
Depending on how thorough an appraisal is, it can either save or cost a divorcing couple many much-needed dollars. That is why during a divorce it is more important than ever to find a certified professional appraiser who understands the critical role a home valuation will play in your proceedings and the life you plan on enjoying afterward.
When counseling any client needing a home appraisal due to an impending divorce, I advise both spouses to be present during my home valuation. For many, particularly those involved in a high-conflict divorce, my advice may seem counterintuitive, even counter-productive. I won’t lie – I have been privy during my many years as a home appraiser to spats reminiscent of Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito in The War of the Roses, and I have learned how to duck for cover when objects, and insults, come flying.
In all seriousness, having both spouses present during a home appraisal, regardless of how amicable or not their divorce is proving to be, saves a couple time. It also allows me to give a couple the most comprehensive appraisal I can without having to retrace my steps over and over again as I compile the information I need. Once I do, I am then able to create a data-rich report that is appropriate for use in a divorce negotiation, even in court, where sometimes I am asked for my expert testimony and am always prepared to testify.
Without going into a debate about how men are from Mars and women are from Venus, or how men and women (and people in general) prioritize certain aspects of their home as opposed to others, let me say that I have seen my fair share of arguments. For example, which items on my checklist, a Viking stove or cracks in a wall, is more significant to my valuation? It depends on who is asking.
For a husband who seeks to value the home as high as possible because his wife is planning to stay there after buying him out, the Viking stove may be. For a wife who wishes to value the home as low as possible to pay her soon-to-be ex a lesser price, the cracks may be. Regardless of who wants what, that Viking stove and those wall cracks can quickly take center stage, delaying, event preventing, the appraisal if the appraiser is not equipped to handle a couple’s divorce-related concerns.
When I deal with both spouses upfront, I can assure them that I am an impartial actor regardless of which “side” hired me to do the appraisal. I can walk the couple through their disagreements, quelling any suspicions and fears they may have that the report won’t represent their concerns. It will. And I am always happy to explain how, as I would for any other dispute that may arise. By determining what the couple’s sticking points are from the beginning and working through them, I can expeditiously break the appraisal down to those standard terms each spouse can understand in apples to apples and oranges to oranges terms.
People often say, “If these walls could talk.” The difference is when you are an appraiser specializing in divorce, it sometimes becomes necessary to whisper in a couple’s ears just to get them not to scream.