Putting a value on the matrimonial home


Dear David,

My spouse and I split up a couple of years ago. Among other things, we’ve been trying to figure out how to put a value on our matrimonial home. My spouse is currently living in the house and is neither cooperative nor motivated to help settle this. How should I move forward? – EX ISSUES

DEAR EX: When a relationship breaks down, there are several things that need to be decided, settled on, and divided up. If you’re splitting your assets fifty-fifty, sometimes it’s just simple math: of the eight thousand dollars in your savings account, each of you takes four.

Over the years, I’ve seen certain things get complicated. Some parts of the settlement, like who keeps the family cottage when both sides want it, or who gets the cat, can be particularly difficult. Pensions are another example, but from what I understand, the value of a pension can be easily established, it just takes two or three months to work through the process.

Determining the value of a home when one party wants to stay in it can be a major challenge. Over the last two years, the real estate market has been about as volatile as we’ve seen it in three or four decades, which adds to the challenge of establishing property value. When both parties are willing to cooperate, it’s a straightforward process. We take a snapshot in time of the present value of the home, and then do the math (the simplest way is to sell the home and split the proceeds).

When a relationship dissolves, many people think they should call in two or three Realtors for an opinion of value. My advice is always the same: hire two professional appraisers to give you a value on your home (one chosen by you, and the other by your ex) and average out the values they give you. If these opinions vary dramatically, you could hire a third appraiser and average all three values. When it comes to valuing a property, it’s critical to lay down ground rules in advance and follow through on those plans.

In your case, you have one party dragging their feet in a market that feels like a roller coaster ride. At some point in time, you’ll need to take action. Your lawyer can help you get to the next step. Lawyers have access to experts who do valuations and can give you appropriate advice from a legal perspective. Check with your lawyer, but it may be time to book a court date.

PRO TIP: While I’ve often said it’s important to surround yourself with professionals, keep in mind that anything settled out of your lawyer’s office (and out of court) may save you tens of thousands in billable hours. The money paid to settle simple things in court could instead be left to your kids and grandkids. If you want to be successful in your divorce, you might want to consider a mediated settlement, which will probably result in considerable savings. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiator

David is a top-selling Broker in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. He works personally with you when selling or buying your home. Call or text today for your free home evaluation! 519-577-1212.