If you have ever held your breath during a home appraisal, you are not alone. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, the process can be stressful. If you are the seller, you likely want to unload your home and move on. If you are a buyer, you are probably counting the days until you can move in. Either way, the process can be aggravating, especially since you wait with anticipation not only to find out what the home appraises for, but also whether the home is in need of any repairs. Even more challenging is when you are a seller, and your home appraisal is a part of your divorce, which makes it that much more critical you value it appropriately. The need for repairs can change that number drastically.
Not all repairs are created equal. A suggestion from your divorce home appraiser to caulk the shower is not the same as him or her discovering that there is a crack in the home’s foundation, that the electrical wiring in the house is faulty, or that there is mold. Often, these repairs come as a surprise to the homeowner who may legitimately never knew they existed. Once the divorce appraiser discovers those defects, however, you may find yourself under the gun to get the repairs done in a hurry. You may also risk losing your deal or, not as drastically, money in your deal as buyers sometimes use the appraisal as a sticking point at which to re-open negotiations about the price or closing date, among other considerations.
To avoid unwanted surprises and being forced to correct them in a hurry, you might want to consider doing a mock walk-through of your home first with a trusted or a few trusted professionals who are well-versed in the various aspects of construction. Or, alternatively, enlist the aid of separate professionals including a roofer, plumber, and electrician if you suspect that your home has issues that may need addressing before the closing.
Of course, you can always roll the dice and hope your divorce home appraiser doesn’t make any unwanted discoveries. If you are in the middle of a divorce, you may be worried about how much those home repairs might cost you while you are already shelling out big bucks to your lawyers. The problem is, a skilled divorce home appraiser is going to find those areas of your home in need of attention, and you are going to have to correct them anyway. By waiting, you risk losing your deal or delaying the closing of it, inevitably delaying your divorce, which will cost you much more in time and money than most home repairs ever could. And, as anyone who is going through a divorce or divorced now can tell you, that is additional stress you just don’t need.
Contrary to what you may have heard, your divorce home appraiser is not out to get you. He or she wasn’t sent in by your estranged spouse on the sly to make your life harder or give you a low-ball appraisal to get you get less money in your settlement. A reputable divorce home appraiser looks out for all of the parties involved in the home’s sale. In other words, your divorce home appraiser is a neutral party. The real purpose of your divorce home appraisal runs far deeper than how it can impact the sale price of your home. Though we all know how important that figure can be, especially when used in conjunction with calculating a divorce settlement, a thorough home appraisal can save lives.
A home may be the largest purchase a couple ever makes and their most valuable asset should they eventually divorce. But, more than that, a home is where a family comes to hang their hats, raise their families, make beautiful memories, and lay their heads on their pillows at night. A comprehensive home appraisal helps ensure that the home is a safe haven for new homeowners to do that. It is not that your divorce home appraiser is nit-picking at your home to find out what is wrong with it. It is that your divorce home appraiser cares — about all of you.
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You’re getting divorced. You have a million and one details to think about, which may include the valuation of the marital home. It does not matter if you will be moving out now, sometime down the road, or ever. Regardless, a divorce home appraisal is a critical part of your financial picture, and you want to make sure you not only get it done right but also right now.
Because there is often strong sentiment attached to the marital home, many people do their best to avoid the thought of selling it as long as possible. As a divorce appraiser, let me be the first to tell you why you should have your home appraised sooner rather than later. Every day you wait can potentially cost you thousands of dollars, even in a depressed real estate market.
When it comes to buying a home, we all aim to buy low and sell high. And in a perfect world, it is smart advice. But how many of us live in a perfect world, particularly if we are in the middle of a divorce? I will take a wild guess and say, “Not many of us.” That means there will never be a perfect time to seek a divorce appraisal, let alone sell your home. For starters, no one, not even the savviest real estate investors, can time the market correctly. So trying to find the perfect time is like chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
If you are in the throes of a divorce or just embarking on one, you already know how costly those legal bills can get. Therefore, the longer you put off having your divorce appraisal completed, the longer you keep your lawyer’s billable clock ticking. In my experience, paying a divorce lawyer more is not often at the top of anyone’s to-do list.
Speaking of which, get to that to-do list of repairs you have been putting off done as quickly as you can. A home that is well taken care of and not in a state of disrepair is worth more than the home requiring a laundry list of even the most seemingly insignificant quick fixes. It is something I see when I enter a home, not to mention any prospective buyer. By doing repairs, even small ones, before calling in your divorce appraiser, you will almost always guarantee yourself the highest possible valuation.
And that is a number you should take seriously. Your divorce appraisal is the single most important document your lawyer will have in her or her possession to calculate how much money you may be entitled to as part of your divorce settlement. Consider it just as you would a bank statement or other financial document. But unlike a statement which moves according to the financial markets and fluctuates daily, your divorce appraisal will have more staying power.
Real estate markets tend to move more slowly than financial ones. Nearby home sales, which are used to calculate your home’s value, don’t happen every day. Mortgage rates historically move slowly. A few weeks or months will likely not make much of a difference in your home’s overall value. And if it does, the differential will probably be small.
What could be large is the opportunity cost to you of waiting. As the saying goes, time is money. For someone getting divorced, time spells higher legal fees, more wear and tear on the home, and, most importantly, more worry. A divorce home appraisal is one of the easiest steps you can take toward easing the pressure off of you. And, as we all know, peace of mind is something we can never, ever put a price tag on.
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I don’t take sides, and my one goal is to get you where you want to be. Call Nathan anytime at 503.349.3765 to get started and to get all of your questions answered. We look forward to talking with you and putting your mind at rest. We want to help you get through to the next stage of your life.
By the time you get around to booking an appointment with your divorce appraiser to develop a home value for you, you are probably hesitant to incur yet another new expense. After all, the bills have been rolling in each month – not only your current ones but also those from your attorney, accountant, even your therapist. And if your financial picture has already begun to change as a result of your separation, you may be worrying about your finances more than ever before.
But the divorce appraisal for your home is no place to cut corners. That is because not having one, or hiring an appraiser who lacks familiarity with issues relating to divorce, can cost you a lot of money, and aggravation, in the long run. When you consider the money it costs to have your home valued by a divorce appraiser, you will find that dollar for dollar the cost of the divorce appraisal is cheap compared to the cost of not paying close attention to your quickly changing financial situation and the questions you have concerning your well-being down the road.
As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Addressing the appraised value of your home early on in the divorce process, knowing the truth about your financial position from the get-go, will ultimately provide you with the relief and clarity you crave as you struggle to resolve any feelings of uncertainty you may have about the future. Seeing in black and white the actual dollar amounts of the home value to be split will, at a minimum, let you know where you stand. And, for anyone who has ever gone through a divorce, knowing where you stand is critical to negotiating your settlement efficiently and effectively, bringing you to a mutually agreeable end.
Whether, at first, you consider the news your receive from your divorce appraisal as good or bad, really the news is all good because having it completed means you are ready to advance to the next stage in your divorce. Avoiding the topic of what your home is worth only keeps you tied to your past, and the goal here should be to get on with your new life, one that holds the possibility (and probability) of being better than it ever was before while you were married.
When it comes to dysfunctional relationships, we often try to avoid pressing issues because they are unpleasant to deal with and they make us feel uncomfortable. As we begin to avoid, initially we feel relief. Great! For now… The trouble is the problems that we push aside, for the time being, can sneak up on us when we least want them to or expect. And that is when we suddenly find ourselves facing a crisis.
In an article published in Psychology Today, the author discusses how using avoidance as a coping mechanism can ultimately cause the exact anxiety a person seeks to relieve. In other words, the strategy does not work and the costs involved can be high, especially if the avoidance is prolonged. Instead, when problems arise, it is best to face them head on and deal with them in the present. If necessary, enlist the help of a mental health professional for added support.
In the meantime, like any minor medical issue that will not go away yet can become much worse, putting off your divorce appraisal can likewise snowball into much a more serious problem. Speak for yourself, but I know I am certainly not looking for any more of those.
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.
When we talk about trust and relationships, often what comes to mind are romantic relationships or personal friendships. How do we trust a new partner? Or, can we trust a friend enough to confide in them? Like any personal relationship, there must also exist trust in your professional relationships, particularly the one you have with the real estate appraiser conducting your divorce appraisal.
For most divorcing couples, the marital home represents the largest joint asset a couple owns. Most divorce lawyers will, therefore, request a professional divorce appraisal of the home, even if the couple is not selling the home. The question is, how can you trust the person you are hiring? After all, it is likely you never met the divorce appraiser before. More than that, you may have never had a real estate appraisal in the past, making you that much more wary about the process.
One of the best ways to relieve initial awkwardness between you and your real estate divorce appraiser is to become familiar with the process beforehand. A real estate divorce appraiser, especially one who works intimately with divorcing couples and understands how much stress there can be during this difficult time, will take the time to apprise a couple of what will happen when he arrives at the divorce appraisal appointment.
Those going through or who have ever gone through a divorce know that stress is most often rooted in feelings that they are no longer in control of their life. One of the most effective strategies for overcoming this sensation is to prepare what you can before your divorce appraisal. That means educating yourself about sales data in your area, much of which is freely available on sites like Zillow and Realtor.com. If you are not Internet savvy, you may want to consider reaching out to a local realtor for a list of recent sales in your area.
It is important to remember, however, your preliminary research will not be as comprehensive as that of the real estate divorce appraiser, who is trained in doing such analyses and has more access to the detailed information necessary for giving you the most accurate divorce appraisal possible. Coupled with his knowledge, training, and experience, a reputable real estate divorce appraiser also utilizes computer models that take into consideration nuances not readily available to the general public. Nonetheless, it is still in your best interest to educate yourself from the outset, so you are better able to understand your appraisal and how the appraiser calculated your home’s value when you receive it.
On his end, a reputable real estate appraiser will ease any feelings of insecurity homeowners may have by showing up for the scheduled appointment on time. He will also dress professionally. He will arrive at the home with an open mind, gathering information from around the home and any the homeowners offer to him. Most importantly, he will communicate openly and honestly with the homeowners about why he is there, how he can help them, and what they can do to help him.
One of the best ways homeowners can ensure the accuracy of their home divorce appraisal is by compiling a list of improvements they made to the home, including the dates of the improvements, what those improvements entailed, and how much they cost. It is equally as important for the homeowner to let the appraiser know if the home has any defects that he may not readily see. A home appraisal is no time to keep secrets because once any defect becomes apparent, the home divorce appraisal will lose its accuracy, which will inevitably cost the homeowners more time and money in the long run.
Think of having a home divorce appraisal much as you would flying on an airplane for the first time. Even though you are not the one sitting in the cockpit, you still place your trust in the pilot to get you where you need to be. Rest assured, an experienced and skilled real estate divorce appraiser will do the same.