In nearly every marriage dissolution, the divorcing couple will have to go through the process of dividing their marital property. Oklahoma is an “equitable division” state, meaning that marital assets and debts are supposed to be divided equally between the two spouses.
The hardest part of most asset division cases is figuring out what to do with the family home. Usually, the home is the most valuable asset a divorcing couple owns. It is also often the thing that is imbued with the most sentimental attachment, making the division process that much more difficult.
There are a number of ways to divide a home during divorce. In some cases, one spouse might choose to stay in the home, while the other receives an equivalent amount of assets or has his or her share bought out. In other cases, the couple might decide to sell the home and split the proceeds.
Whatever the chosen method of division, the first step is to get an accurate picture of the home’s value. With the Oklahoma housing market starting to grow again after the recession, it is important for the home to be valued in line with market conditions.
Valuing homes in Oklahoma divorces
There are three main ways to value homes during divorce, each of which has its own benefits and drawbacks:
- Professional home appraisers: Getting a professional appraisal will usually provide the most reliable and accurate estimate of a home’s value, because appraisers are trained to evaluate both market conditions and the unique characteristics of a particular home. This expertise comes at a cost, though-a professional appraisal can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
- However, this added expense may pale in comparison to the financial losses that could result from a home being valued incorrectly. As such, professional appraisals are usually the best option when spouses have significantly different opinions about what their home is worth.
- Realtor valuation: Realtors will often do free or low-cost comparative market analyses for people looking to sell their homes. A CMA compares the home to other similar homes that have recently sold or are listed for sale. The Realtor will then recommend that the home be listed at a price that makes sense given comparative market conditions. However, because the Realtor does not closely evaluate the unique characteristics of the home, the valuation might not be as accurate as a professional appraisal.
- Realtor valuation is a good middle ground for couples who want to sell their home, but who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a formal appraisal.
- Self-researched valuation: These days, there is a lot of property and real estate information available for free on the Internet. Particularly savvy couples may be able to get a fairly decent – and free – valuation just by compiling data found online. However, this should only be done in cases where the spouses are in substantial agreement about the home’s value.
If you are going through a divorce, it is best to have experienced help on your side, especially if there is any disagreement between you and your spouse. Contact an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney who can advocate on your behalf.