The best time to protect your financial future is before the divorce. An appraisal to determine home value is a good first step, but it is not enough. You need to determine the true value of the home. Major repairs can negatively impact the value of the home and should be considered by both parties before distribution of assets.
If you are considering purchasing the marital home, a pre-divorce settlement is the best and relatively inexpensive way to protect yourself and your investment. You wouldn’t purchase a home without an inspection. Do you really want to accept the house in a divorce settlement without an inspection?
Appraisers don’t necessarily take into account the repairs a home may need — whether, for instance, it will need a new roof or has mold that has to be removed — that can lower its value. Home inspectors, on the other hand, would include such information in their reports. That information could then be provided to an appraiser to get a more accurate estimate of a home’s worth or simply be used in divorce negotiations. Then, when the assets are being split, the inspector’s report will give a better sense of what the home is worth. That, in turn, can help ensure that the party getting the house is getting a fair deal.
That’s why lawyers and home inspectors are increasingly encouraging divorcing couples to make sure a home inspection is part of the divorce process.
Even if the proper precautions are taken, the home can still become a point of dispute in court. In that situation, your clients will need a home inspector who has been trained as an expert witness and who can plead on their behalf.