Determining The Value of Your Home During a Divorce

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What is your home worth in the current market?

Our Michigan housing market is still limping along in the wake of the 2008 stock market and mortgage crisis. On the up side, it has recovered somewhat and appears to be slowly getting better, especially in Oakland County. Communities like Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield and Bloomfield are doing better. On the downside, it is a long way from where it was. Regardless of the current status of the market, however, the divorce rate continues unabated, and divorcing couples are all faced with the same issue of what to do with their home when they part ways.

Home ownership is a complex situation and during a divorce this becomes even more of a reality. For some couples, their home is the single most valuable asset they own and deciding how to handle it can be a source of great concern during an already difficult time. Obviously, the answer to that dilemma can be different for every couple, but accurately determining the value of your home will go a long way toward helping you make better, more informed, decisions during your divorce.

In the same way that you take your car to a mechanic when the engine starts knocking, or call a plumber when your flushing toilet floods the bathroom, a professional will make a big difference in determining the value of your real estate. In this article we have made a simple list of the three people who can help you with this issue.

Real Estate Appraiser

A real estate appraiser is someone who is an expert at determining the value of real estate.  They take into account the factors that affect a property’s value and write a formal appraisal. The appraisal can be used in the event of a sale to support your asking price, and also in a court to support a particular asset division.

Most often, a real estate appraisal during divorce is a tool that is used to negotiate a settlement in your divorce case. Appraising a home is not an exact science. Therefore in some cases, appraisals can vary significantly. For that reason, divorce lawyers sometimes agree in advance of hiring the appraisers, to hire one appraisal and stick with the value determined by that particular appraiser. Doing so avoid a “battle of the experts” that is all too common in Oakland County. In Michigan, real estate appraisers are licensed by the state. Some appraisers have advanced training and certifications.

On average, an appraiser in the southeast Michigan (Metro Detroit) area charges approximately $500 dollars for an average home appraisal. They will make an appointment and you will be required to meet them at the house to let them in. The appraisal usually takes about an hour, and you will also need to be available during that time in the event that they have questions. Their report is usually prepared and ready for you within a few weeks of having completed the appraisal.

Real Estate Agent

One of the first places many couples go when trying to determine the value of their home is to a real estate agent. An agent will be able to provide you with what is known as comparable rates, more commonly called “comps.” What this means is that they will look at the recent sale prices for all of the other, similar, houses in your neighborhood.

From those numbers, they will be able to provide you with a rough estimate of what your home could sell for right now. This is a service that most real estate agents will provide for free. However, it is worth remembering that it is only a rough estimate, and not an exact figure, tailored for your home. If you are looking for a more precise estimation, you will need to hire an appraiser. Do not mistake real estate agents for appraisers. They are very different. Only certified and licensed appraisers are experts in appraising.

Real Estate Broker

If you would like something more exact than standard comps, but are not willing to pay the higher prices asked by an appraiser, there is a lesser known but sometimes helpful third option – a broker’s opinion. A real estate broker is a real estate agent who has taken additional testing and received a broker’s license from the state of Michigan, allowing them to hire multiple real estate agents to work under their supervision.

Most brokers have extensive knowledge of real estate values and can provide what is known as a broker’s opinion. In essence, this is an in-depth study of the comps that an agent would provide you, but includes greater analysis of a wider range of features and factors. Many institutions use a broker’s opinion when they hope to avoid the expense and delay of an appraisal. However, a broker is not an appraiser. A broker is a step above a real estate agent but certainly a step below an appraiser. In our Oakland County courts, as well as in Macomb County and Wayne County, a divorce attorney would never take anything less than a genuine appraisal into divorce court.

We hope this list was helpful to you in your effort to decide how to determine the value of your home during a divorce. Remember that, if you have questions about how to deal with your assets, your divorce attorney is one of the best people to talk to. At The Kronzek Firm, our skilled family law attorneys have decades of experience handling all manner of issues that come up during the course of a divorce, including asset division, custody, alimony, and child support. Call us today at 1 866-766-5245. We are here to help you.


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