Deciding what to do with the marital home is just one of the many difficult decisions facing divorcing couples. There are financial and emotional aspects to the decision and, inevitably, each party will have a different opinion about what to do.
Often it comes down to financial necessity and this is where good professional and legal advice is essential. A formal valuation of the property is likely to be required as part of divorce proceedings, to determine the true, present value of your home. To assure a fair assessment, it’s considered a good idea for each party to obtain separate, independent valuations. It’s also important that both parties agree what will be included in the sale of the home, before the valuation is done. The inclusion of things like whitegoods, built-in furniture, curtains and light fittings will all have an impact on the final result of both valuations.
To produce a formal property valuation a licensed valuer will attend the property and ask questions about the house and its condition. They will want to know specifics about the house and will take accurate measurements of the floor plan and improvements. They will reference any significant additions that have been made to the property and take into consideration any structural repairs that may be required. The valuation will be presented to the client in a formal report, which can then be considered in court during proceedings.
A valuation report is a professional document and, as such, the valuer in some cases may be called upon to explain their valuation in court.
Emotions can be heightened during a divorce, so separate valuations are a good idea. Each valuer should have a professional and unbiased approach and, ideally, not be a friend or family member, whose judgement may be clouded by loyalty. In some cases, two valuers can come to different conclusions about a property. In these cases, the valuers may be asked to attend court to explain how they came to their final valuation figure and the final decision may then be left to the judge, after referencing both valuations.
The valuation will assist in determining how equity in the property is split as part of the divorce. A number of factors are considered here, such as original contributions to the purchase of the house and ongoing contributions by each individual. However, these are not the sole considerations. There are many other factors taken into account – not necessarily of a financial nature. The formal valuation process helps both parties by offering an alternative perspective from an unbiased professional. Once the formal assessment of your property’s market value has been completed, both parties are a step closer to being able to finalise an agreement. However, if both parties cannot agree, the court may determine that it will acquire its own valuation.