In a Sacramento divorce all community property assets and debts must valued and equally divided. In a typical Sacramento divorce, the former family home is the largest physical asset the parties own.
The value of the home is an often disputed part of the Sacramento divorce. Thus, in cases where the value is disputed, it is important to hire a licensed real property appraiser to try and determine the fair market value of the home. In cases where the home is worth less than the amount owed on the mortgages (i.e. “underwater”), an appraiser may be needed to implement a short sale or establish the value so that the negative equity (“underwater balance”) is known. In other cases where the home has equity, the appraiser is important for establishing the value because that will impact settlement negotiations.
It is best if the parties and their Sacramento divorce attorneys can agree to select a neutral real estate appraiser. However, this may be difficult if one spouse wants the value to appear as “low” as possible and the other spouse wants the value to appear as “high” as possible. If there is no agreement, the parties may be ordered to pick their own appraiser or allow the court to select the appraiser. Once the appraiser(s) conduct(s) the appraisal(s), the court will ultimately be responsible for selecting the value that appears to be the most appropriate. If the appraisal figures are close, it is a good bet the court will be inclined to take the number in the middle of the appraisals.
If the parties and their appraisers are unable to come to an agreement as to the home’s value, and the judge is unwilling to accept either appraiser’s proposed value, the judge can order the home to be listed on the market until it is sold. The judge will allow the open market to determine the home’s value in order to prevent the Sacramento divorce from becoming deadlocked. This option could be a positive choice if your goal is to expeditiously resolve your Sacramento divorce. This option could also be a negative choice if your goal is to obtain the best possible price and avoid a rushed property sale with a lowball offer.
A good starting point for more information on real estate appraisals is the Wall Street Journal article by Alyssa Abkowitz published November 29, 2012.
If you are involved in a Sacramento divorce and real property valuation issues are involved, we hope you will consider meeting with one of our Sacramento divorce attorneys at Miller & Associates. We offer a free half hour consultation and would be happy to meet with you and discuss your case.