Geraldine Waxman, ESQ.
Are valuations really that necessary: Yes! No! Maybe!
Sometimes during a divorce the spouses assume that they immediately must have a valuation on their home ---- or for that matter everything! But why? Are they selling it? Are they dividing it in some way between them so as to reach a fair balance of traded value? What indeed is the purpose of the valuation? Who pays for that valuation and, what will happen once the valuation has been finished? Are they agreeing that whatever the valuation says will be upheld between them? All these are important questions that must first be answered by the parties before they commence to spend their money on what might be a needless appraisal of their personal properties.
If they know what the house, the artworks, the jewelry or any personal jointly owned property is worth and they have agreed on the various value in order to sell it, why would a valuation be necessary? What if they are not sure and the house or other property is being "traded" for something else? When and how should they get an evaluation. If the parties are not sure of how to proceed the Mediator may certainly offer methods and options.
No matter what the reason for the valuation or the asset evaluated, certain steps should be followed in getting a fair and accurate appraisal that meets the needs and approval of both parties.
The appraiser should be uniquely qualified to evaluate the specific property.
Seek an expert in that particular field and most desirably through a recognized appraisal organization that monitors the standards and qualifications of its members.
The cost of the appraisal should never be connected in any way to the value of the property but should be based on an hourly/daily fee agreed upon with the appraiser.
The appraiser should be basing the valuation on property, whether real estate, art works or any other personal possessions on marketplace comparisons. For real estate and the home, the local market and recent sales of comparable homes in the same area should be studied. For artworks and other personal property such as jewelry and household goods the same holds true. Comparable works that have sold recently at auction or can be found on the open market in the hands of dealers and retailers can be factored into the valuation.
Most important to remember when making comparisons of any property in order to avoid comparing so called “apples to oranges” is to always consider the condition of the property. This holds true especially for real estate, works of art and collectables. A qualified appraiser familiar with the sales of items is why he/she is indispensable here. All “Picassos” don’t have the same value any more than all diamonds do. Expertise is essential to knowing the difference between mediocre, good and great especially in the field of art, antiques, jewelry and collectables and is critical to obtaining an accurate value.