For most clients, their home is their largest marital asset. Unlike a retirement account, its value is more difficult to determine. Clients struggle with valuing their home when completing their Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit. Many of them leave the line blank. Others use the purchase price. Neither are good options. What other methods can litigants use to value their home?
- Appraisal. A home appraisal will provide the most accurate value (other than selling your home). An appraisal is a very educated guess about the value of the home. The appraiser will visit your home. They will review the square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of your home, and take into account any recent upgrades or maintenance. Most importantly, they will compare your home to other homes that have sold in your neighborhood. Appraisers can also be subpoenaed to act as a witness should your case go to trial.
- Tax Value. Each year you pay property taxes on your home. The county determines the value of the home for the purposes of levying the tax. This value can be found on your county's tax office website.
- Online services. Zillow and Trulia have a wealth of information. You can easily search for homes in your neighborhood that have sold recently. This is especially valuable if you live in a neighborhood where homes have an identical floor plan to yours or are similarly designed. Zillow also offers its own estimation value.
Whichever method you choose, let your attorney know how you arrived at the value. They may encourage you to have an appraisal particularly if your home has significant equity.