Not All Home Appraisals are Created Equal During Divorce Proceedings : A Lesson on Marital Assets by One of Our Concierge Partners

As William Shakespeare once wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but if you order the wrong appraisal for your divorce proceedings, it can really stink!

Nearly 70% of all divorces involve real estate, and the family home is one of the most heated points of contention. Typically, the home is the largest marital asset and also comes with a strong emotional attachment for the parties involved. Whether you have decided to sell the home and move on or refinance to pay out the equity to your former spouse, you need to know its value — and that is where the appraisal comes in!

For most people, their primary concern when they order an appraisal is the value of the home and what impact it will have on their case. They usually aren’t very concerned about how the appraisal report is done, as long as they can use it in court. And while most of us are accustomed to receiving residential mortgage reports on the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (URAR) 1004 form, it is not intended to be used for valuation matters other than mortgage finance. This simple mistake could cost you time and money, as the court may choose not to accept the appraisal on this form.

The best solution is to tell the appraiser that you are seeking the valuation for a divorce, and you need to order a General Purpose Appraisal Report (GPAR). Here are a few reasons this form will work best for you.

The divorce appraisal sometimes has a retrospective date of value, meaning the appraised value is based upon a date in the past (such as the filing date, marriage date, separation date, or purchase date) rather than today’s date.

Often both the retrospective value and current market value are needed for divorce.

The appraiser in a divorce situation may be asked to be an expert witness if the case goes to court, so it may be necessary to include additional research and data within the appraisal report to ensure that value and adjustments are clearly explained and supported.

The divorce appraisal is the same as a mortgage appraisal in terms of confidentiality. No information regarding the appraisal or appraised value is shared with anyone other than the client who ordered the appraisal or their attorney unless otherwise required by law.

As with every other aspect of the divorce proceedings, make sure to follow your attorney’s advice and order the appraisal when they recommend doing so. If you wait until the last minute, you may be charged rush fees, and you want to avoid as many unnecessary fees as possible!

So the next time you are ordering a divorce appraisal, be sure to specifically ask your appraiser which form they are going to use. If they say the URAR 1004, you need to insist that they use a GPAR form or you run the risk of presenting an invalid appraisal. If you have any other questions, you can also reach out to me at John.Gilmore@SunTrust.com.


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Atlanta Divorce Law Group

Sara Khaki
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