Many divorcing couples have one major asset that they must split -- the home they bought together.
Get a home appraisal before you make any agreements regarding the house. Here's why:
1. You really don't know how much the home is worth.
Maybe you and your spouse both agree that the house is worth $100,000. However, you're both basing that on the appraisal that was done five or six years ago when you bought the place. That doesn't take into account changes in the market or improvements you may have made.
Whether you take the equity in the house as part of your share of the marital goods or give it up, you may be cheating yourself. If the housing market in your area has declined, that $100,000 home may now be worth just $80k and have no equity. Maybe property rates have skyrocketed and the house is worth $200,000 now. Assuming otherwise is going to put somebody at a disadvantage.
2. You may need that appraisal in court.
Sometimes a divorce starts out amicably until it comes down to the nitty-gritty of dividing the assets. All of a sudden, you and your spouse may not agree on much of anything -- let alone the value of your home.
A home appraiser can be called as a witness in court to support your claim of what the house is worth. Keep in mind, however, that you want to work with a reliable appraiser who will give you an honest assessment. Your spouse may hire a different appraiser to try to refute your claim.
Complex property division can be difficult to navigate in a divorce. It's just smart to treat the situation like you would any other business deal.