Valuing Real Estate in a High Asset Divorce

Many high-asset couples in Kentucky own more than one home. For example, they may own the house that serves as their primary residence and a beach home or cabin in the woods. So when they divorce, decisions need to be made as to how to divide these multiple pieces of real estate. But before real estate can be divided, it is important to obtain an accurate value on it. In general, there are three ways to value one's home in a divorce.

1. Real Estate Appraisal

The first method of valuing a home is getting a real estate appraisal. It is best to use the services of a licensed appraiser when doing so. It might cost several hundred dollars to get a home appraisal, but in the end, a professional home appraisal can save a person much more money than if the value he or she had previously assigned to the home is inaccurate. For example, let's say a spouse wants to keep the home, and he or she values it based on a assessor's calculation of $500,000. However, a more recent appraisal may value the house at $400,000. This means that the spouse retaining the home would owe his or her ex $50,000 less in equity. Moreover, if each spouse cannot agree on the value of the home, an appraiser can provide a neutral value and may even serve as a witness at a divorce hearing if necessary.

2. Comparative Market Analysis

In addition, a home can be appraised via a Comparative Market Analysis. For a small fee, realtors may be able to perform a CMA to calculate a fair market value for the home. CMAs compare the home being valued with other homes in the vicinity that are on the market or have recently been sold. This method tends to be less accurate than a real estate appraisal, as it does not consider the specific conditions of the individual home.

3. Self-Appraisal

Some couples will try to do their own search via the Internet to assess the value of their home. However, the court will not consider this method of home valuation to be as accurate as a CMA or appraisal.

In the end, couples have choices when it comes to valuing their real estate. Getting an accurate appraisal is important so that the property division process can be fair to both spouses. Spouses who are concerned about how valuing real estate will affect their divorce may want to consult with an attorney.