You may not worry much about dividing your property in your divorce. After all, California is a community property state that protects the rights of both spouses. You may feel comfortable about your ability to negotiate a settlement with your spouse or the idea that a judge will split your marital property.
In order for the outcome of property division proceedings in California divorces to be fair and appropriate, both spouses and the judge presiding over the divorce should know about all of the assets and debts in the marital estate.
Your home is a marital asset that both you and your spouse have invested in substantially during your marriage. Ensure that you know the true value of your home when dividing property.
Property values are on the rise
How long has it been since your last appraisal? If you have lived in your home for more than a year or two and have not refinanced or had an appraisal done in recent years, you may not have an accurate idea of what your home is actually worth.
Property values in the San Jose area were up more than 15% in the last 12 months alone. If you have updated your house, remodeled it or otherwise improved its condition since the purchase, the increase in value for your property may be even more than the average. Only by bringing in a professional to appraise the property can you ensure that you receive a fair portion of its value in the property division proceedings.
One appraisal may not be enough
It’s important that divorcing homeowners understand that the appraisal process is somewhat subjective. An appraiser should set what they believe is the current fair market value for a property. Often, the goals of the person that hired the appraisal can influence the results of the appraisal.
If the appraiser knows someone wants to sell their home, they may set a price at the upper end of what they believe is a reasonable value range for the property. If they know someone will shortly cash out equity from the property to pay their ex, they might place a price closer to the lower end of the appropriate range for the property.
If your ex hires an appraiser and you don’t agree with the price they set for the property, it may be worth the investment to have a second appraisal done. You can then negotiate the price somewhere in the middle of those two amounts. Ensuring you understand what your home is worth is crucial when facing an upcoming California divorce.