a deep red-colored house with a white picket fence and a large tree out front
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Divorce FAQ: Should I Get the House Appraised?

Should I get the house appraised? It’s a frequent question in our monthly divorce workshops.

During a divorce, you and your spouse will divide most of your assets. While many personal items may be easy to label “yours” and “mine” (e.g., an inherited antique vanity, a prized collection), some belongings will be much more difficult to divvy up. One such possession is your home. Couples often struggle to determine if one spouse should keep the house, or whether they should sell it.

Do I need an appraisal?
If you decide to sell your home, you’ll need first to determine its worth. Your lawyers and mediator won’t be able to do this; instead, it’s best to enlist the help of a professional, licensed appraiser. A professional appraiser will be able to give you the most accurate idea of your home’s current monetary value.

Some people choose to appraise their home on their own; however, this method is not always easy for separating couples, especially those who have extreme difficulty agreeing on subjects. In fact, presenting documents from a website (like Zillow or other online, do-it-yourself appraisal sites) is not viewed to be as accurate by the court as an appraisal or comparative market analysis (CMA).

a deep red-colored house with a white picket fence and a large tree out front
Photo by kellogg via VisualHunt

What will my appraiser do?
Your appraiser will examine comparable sales and your home’s unique features when determining the value of your home. Comparable sales are similar properties that have recently sold in the same market; your appraiser will seek out information on those sales and determine where your home should fall on the sale spectrum. If your home has multiple garages, a basement, or a coveted cul-de-sac location, your property may be of a higher value than most.

Make sure you select an appraiser with ample experience in your area. While a quick Google search can help you find well-reviewed, nearby professionals, word-of-mouth references are also a great place to start. Try asking friends and neighbors if they’ve appraised their house before, and who they might recommend.

What if I’m not sure I want to sell my house?

If you are currently debating whether or not you should sell your home, it may still be beneficial to get an appraisal. You’ll need to scrutinize your financial situation — can you afford to stay? — and speak with your spouse about the pros and cons of selling your property. Knowing the value of your home may help you determine whether you would rather sell or stay. If you need more help deciding what you should do with your home, read our related article here.

If you’re struggling with separation or divorce, join our welcoming, understanding group at our monthly seminars in Raleigh.

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