Appraiser’s Role in Divorce is Vital

When it comes to getting help with a divorce, there are multiple professionals that come to mind. Along with your experienced and confident Attorney, most people will also name their financial advisor, therapist and real estate agent as indispensable. Near the top of the list should be an appraiser.

A property appraiser has the responsibility for determining the value for possibly the largest marital asset that will be divided in your divorce settlement. It’s not a hire that should be casually approached.

“For many people, the family home is their most valuable joint asset,” said family law attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler. “When it comes to dividing assets, you want a reliable assessment of your home’s worth.”

It’s not everyday that people hire an appraiser, so where do you start the search? In the case of divorce, ask your attorney. Many experienced divorce lawyers have assembled a list of local professionals that they trust to recommend to their clients – including appraisers, real estate agents, insurance agents and financial and tax advisors.

Nicholson Appraisal ServicesFor divorces in Wayne, Oakland, Livingston and Macomb counties, Wayne-Spindler recommends Nicholson Appraisal Services, Inc., based in Milford, Michigan.

The appraiser is tasked with evaluating your home’s location, features, size, age and maintenance condition and comparing it to “comps” or similar properties close-by that are either on the market or recently sold.

“After gathering pertinent information, such as sales, construction costs, rental incomes, operating expenses, and interest rates, the Assessor determines a property value in three different ways,” according to the Nicholson Appraisal Services, Inc. website.

The three means of appraising value are:

  • comparing sales prices of similar properties
  • looking at estimated replacement costs
  • assessing the value of the property for its income potential

Although real estate agents often perform real estate value estimates for potential listings, in the case of divorce, most courts require or prefer the opinion of a licensed appraiser.

“A licensed appraiser must generate the appraisal report. The courts will not accept what is termed as a CMA (Certified Market Analysis) by a licensed realtor,” according to Nicholson Appraisal Services.

So what do you look for when adding an appraiser to your divorce team?

“Ask how the appraiser is licensed – state licensed or certified,” explains Myra Cristobal in her article, “Hire a good appraiser.

She explains that to be licensed, the appraiser must pass the state exam and needs 2,000 hours of experience and 90 hours of classroom education. “Certification requires an additional 30 classroom hours plus an additional 500 hours of experience,” writes Cristobal.

Make sure you check into an appraiser’s specializations and experience in your local region.

Since much of the appraisal process is based on comparing your property to other similar real estate in the area, one of the most crucial aspects of the appraiser’s experience is a thorough knowledge of your home’s community.

That’s where Nicholson Appraisal pulls ahead of the pack in Wayne-Spindler’s book.

“Norma is a Certified Appraiser. She and her team have been performing appraisals in this area since 1988 so they really know their comps. Besides their knowledge and experience, Norma and her team are quick, thorough and friendly.”

Contact Nicholson Appraisal Services, Inc. at 248-684-7987 or norma@nicholsonappraisalservice.com or the law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler and Associates at 248-676-1000 or www.kssattorney or spindlerlaw@comcast.net for more information.