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Why are home appraisals necessary for divorce settlement?

June 13, 2024

If you’re going through a divorce, one of the first things your attorney probably said was, “You need to get the house appraised.” Why? Because a professional appraisal provides an unbiased, fact-based opinion of value for your home - a data-supported conclusion that will stand up in court.

Look, we know divorce stinks; it’s complicated, even under the best of circumstances. We perform a LOT of appraisals for divorce settlement. It’s important that both parties know the appraisal will be fair and unbiased. Most people just want to know the right number, without playing any games. Professional appraisal is the only way to arrive at a true value for settling your case. Here are some common questions we get asked:

Whose side is the Appraiser on?

Especially in cases where one party is going to keep the house, it’s no secret that one party wants the number to come in as low as possible and the other party wants the number to come in as high as possible. Sometimes, people think that whoever orders the appraisal report has an advantage; not true. An appraiser is a neutral third-party and does not favor one side or the other; their job is to produce the true valuation result, no matter who pays the fee.

In hotly-contested divorce cases, an appraiser is likely to be called upon to defend their conclusions under oath. Those conclusions need to stand up to a challenge of data, methodology, experience, and integrity. Appraisers are human, and they worry (just like everyone else) about taking the stand; they will do everything in their power to make sure their appraisal report stands up to scrutiny. In addition to the discomfort of being cross-examined, appraisers are at risk of being censured or losing their license, if favoritism is found.

Remember, appraisal reports are based on evidence and data, not personal feelings about who is right and who is wrong. Appraisers are neutral; emotion is not part of the calculation. Valuation comes down to what the data says, not what the spouse says.

Should I attend the onsite inspection appointment?

People often think that they can influence the appraiser, and sometimes the party living in the home will follow the appraiser around pointing out issues that favor them. Aloft’s appraisers are very nice, and we’ll always hear out every customer’s concerns, but, in reality, there is no advantage gained from trying to influence an appraiser. Again, it all comes down to the data and the market conditions.

Don’t worry if you cannot be present for the onsite inspection, even if your soon-to-be ex is there. Our appraisers will be personable and professional, we’ll answer every question, and we’ll listen. But in the end, it’s the data that matters.

How do I know I can count on the Report?

Every Aloft report undergoes a vigorous Quality Control check before the report is delivered to you. We scrutinize every appraisal report before they are delivered to divorce attorneys and/or their clients. Each of our appraisers is subject to the industry’s highest ethical and technical standards. We guarantee our work, and many of our appraisers are trained for courtroom testimony (should it be necessary).

Also, appraisal reports are not sacred. It’s not a case of “you get what you get”. If you have concerns or spot a mistake, Aloft Appraisal makes it easy for you to get your questions resolved/answered quickly. Our appraisers will happily speak with your attorney (or the other attorney), if desired. We charge extra for courtroom testimony, but we don’t charge extra for explaining the report or answering questions in full.

About the author:
Mike Stevens
VP of Corporate Development

Mike is one the founding team members with Aloft Appraisal. He has many years of experience in all aspects of real estate, including appraisal, title, escrow, and finance. Mike is the current team leader of Aloft Direct Sales, which offers private appraisal orders for estate settlement, divorce settlement, immigration, and taxes.