One of the most difficult issues in a high-asset Georgia divorce is dividing the couple’s real estate, especially the family home. Real estate can form a large percentage of the couple’s assets, and they often argue intensely about the value of these assets. The family home can become the center of any debate about the value of real property because it is usually imbued with a great deal of emotional memories both spouses. One of the most useful strategies to resolve these issues is to retain a professional real estate appraiser.
The appraiser’s job
Most professional real estate appraisers abide by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). According to these standards, the appraiser’s job is to determine the price that a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller. The method of arriving at that opinion is critical to the worth of the appraisal.
Once retained, the appraiser will visit the property to be appraised (the “subject”) for several purposes. The first is a careful visual inspection of the building. The appraiser will measure the dimensions of each room, examine the exterior for signs of neglect, and note the overall physical condition of the property. The appraiser will also inspect the nearby neighborhood to determine the general value of other homes in the area.
Performing a comparable sales appraisal
Although appraisers use both the replacement cost and income approach to determine value, neither of these approaches is suitable for a family’s residence. Instead, the appraiser consults public records to determine the recent sale prices of similar properties. The appraiser next compares the size, physical condition and general value of these other properties with the information that has been collected about the subject property. Finally, the appraiser uses general knowledge about the local real estate market to reach a professional estimate of value.
Using the appraisal
The appraisal report is reduced to writing and a copy provided to the client and to the court. These reports may also be provided to counsel for the other property. The report may persuade one or both parties to change their positions on the value of the property or the couple may decide to use the appraisal as a guide to value if they decide to sell the property and split the net proceeds. In any event, the advice of an experienced divorce attorney is essential to obtaining fair value for the property.