Q: My home has been appraised twice since 2000, once for my divorce settlement and once for a home improvement loan. The appraisals returned values of $130,000 for the more recent and $110,000 five years earlier.
This is a logical progression, suggesting the reliability of the figures.
The problem I have is that I think prices are a lot lower than what the appraiser suggested. I believe a standard formula was applied by the appraiser which did not take into consideration certain unusual circumstances.
First, We live in an area which has some of the highest local real estate values, but we live on a street on which the prices drop markedly due to rental homes. The comparable properties sited in the appraisal were in more marketable sections of the surrounding area.
Next, there are three facts suggest that the actual selling value of our home would be much lower, including the taxable value of the house (which is $80,000), 3 percent annual appreciation in the area (which would yield a current value of $79,000 and the fact that the last two homes to sell on our street went for $72,000 and $82,000. These homes were fairly similar to ours.
How can I reliably determine the equity in the home for divorce purposes if it is being consistently, as I believe, over-valued by experienced professionals?
A: The easy answer is to pay for another appraisal and make sure to provide the appraiser with proof of the local market facts you site, including information on the two recent sales on your block.
But let’s say that your house is really worth the $130,000 that the appraiser suggested. If you were to sell it, it’s fair to subtract what would have been the costs of actually selling the property.
For example, let’s assume you’ve lived in the house by yourself for the past two years while you’ve been separated. And let’s further assume you’ve paid the taxes, mortgage, and upkeep of the property. If you sell now, it’s also fair to assume that you’ll pay a 6 percent commission and transfer taxes or other costs of the sale.
If this is the case, once you come up with an appraisal you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can agree, you should then subtract his or her half of the costs, including the sales commission.
For more details, please talk to a real estate attorney.