Dividing assets can be one of the most contentious issues in any Georgia divorce. Both spouses may have intense feelings about the value of certain assets, and emotions often complicate the process of establishing the value of these assets. One of the most emotional issues is the value of the family residence. For most Georgians, the family home is their most valuable asset, and it may hold particular emotional value for each spouse. One very effective method of removing—or at least limiting—the emotional factors in valuing the family home is the employment of a professional real estate appraiser.
What does an appraiser do?
An appraiser’s principal task is to provide an unbiased, professional opinion of the home’s fair market value, assuming a willing seller and a motivated buyer. Most appraisers follow the same or similar methods in providing an opinion of value.
The appraiser’s first step is to make a visit to the property that is the subject of the appraisal (the property to be appraised is usually referred to as the “subject”). The appraiser will make a careful inspection of the interior and exterior of the subject. The appraiser will measure the size of the lot on which the homes stands and will also measure the dimensions of every room. In making this inspection, the appraiser will observe the physical condition of the subject and any special features, such as a theater room, a newly renovated kitchen, or a master bedroom suite. The need for any maintenance, such as a new roof or repainting, will also be noted. The appraiser will also tour the neighborhood in which the subject is located.
After completing the inspection of the subject, the appraiser will conduct vital research into the prices of homes of comparable size and value. This information is usually obtained from public records maintained by the county or a similar public agency. The appraiser will also apply their experience of the local real estate market in forming a final opinion as to value.
The final opinion
The appraiser’s final opinion as to value will be presented in a report that states the reach of the appraiser’s inspection and the basis for the opinion as to fair market value. If both parties to the divorce agree with the appraiser’s opinion, the value of the home is usually regarded as settled, and the value of the home is included in the marital estate for division. The couple can also use the appraiser’s opinion as the basis for negotiating a sale of the home to a third party.
Getting the right appraiser
An experienced divorce attorney can help select an appraiser and decide how to employ the appraiser’s opinion as to value.