When it’s time to divide marital property in divorce, if those assets are of significant value and not going to be sold immediately, they must be appraised. Often, the appraisal will occur shortly after the divorce is filed. However, litigation is a lengthy process and property values can change considerably while the case is pending. For this reason, a second appraisal may be done when the divorce is nearing completion if substantial time has passed since the first appraisal was done. Sometimes, even if the spouses agreed on the first valuation, they may disagree on the second one resulting in a new issue that must be resolved by the parties or the court. If you are in this situation, what should you do if you think your property’s valuation is incorrect?
Hire your own appraiser to challenge the second appraisal
If you take this path, you must retain a licensed professional with the requisite expertise.
Decide whether to rehire the first appraiser or get someone new
When hiring your own appraiser, you can retain the person who did the first appraisal to update the initial appraisal or hire a new person. The advantage of using the first appraiser is that he or she should be familiar with the property and can defend the original valuation and any changes thereto since it was performed as well as testify regarding any flaws in the second appraisal. If retaining an independent appraiser, he or she will only be able to give an opinion regarding the accuracy of the second appraisal.
Look for discrepancies in the written reports and testimony of the appraisers
If the issue goes to trial, both appraisers will need to testify regarding how they determined their valuation. Any variations in their methodologies will need to be questioned to prove that one opinion is more accurate than the other.
Consider multiple appraisers
It may be beneficial to rehire the first appraiser to defend his or her appraisal and any changes that may have occurred since it was performed, and give an opinion regarding the second appraisal. Then, also retain an independent appraiser to raise questions about the second valuation. Having two appraisers challenge the second appraisal is more expensive but if there is a substantial difference between the valuations, it may be worth it.
Changing property values during a divorce is a normal occurrence. Right now, it has become even more common because of the rising housing market in some areas of the country. As a result, it is critical to have a skilled divorce lawyer to provide strategic advice and help retain experts who can conduct a fair valuation.
If you are considering divorce, contact us to discuss how we can assist you in achieving the best result in your matter.