Baton Rouge Divorce Home Appraisals: State Of Splitsville

Baton Rouge Divorce Home Appraisals: State Of Splitsville – A curated WSJ article relating it to the Baton Rouge Housing Market. 

WSJ: “In a divorce, there’s one person who is almost as important as the lawyers: the real-estate appraiser.”

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the state of the Divorce Home Appraisal Industry entitled: Appraisers In Splitsville.  Article included photos, slideshow, video below and infographic of the step-by-step process of a divorce appraisal and disposing of a home in divorce.

Baton Rouge Divorce Specific.

While statistics for Baton Rouge itself were not found, in 2011, The Advocate Newspaper published, Divorce Rate In Louisiana Above National Average , based on U.S. Census Bureau data, which showed that Louisiana divorce rate numbers.  Rates per 1,000 men and women ages 15 and over in 2009:


Marriage: 20.6

Divorce: 11


Marriage: 17.6

Divorce: 10


Highlights of WSJ article are below and quoted directly.  I offer my local opinion in italics as a Baton Rouse Divorce House Appraiser for many years now.

Up and Down Housing Market Makes Appraisals Difficult.  

In the past few years, as property values have risen and fallen dramatically, the tricky business of determining the value of a house—always more of an art than a science—has become even more of a high-stakes gamble. And it’s never more complicated than in divorce, where the home is often one of the biggest assets being divided.


No One Wants To Lose.

 “There always are competing and dueling interests about what to do with property,” says Michael Vargas, co-founder of Vanderbilt Appraisal Co. in New York’s tri-state area. “Ultimately, no one wants to lose.”


Home Appraisers Not Generally Fond Of Divorce Work.   

“This type of work really isn’t coveted among appraisers,” Mr. Matonis says.

Bill Cobb Appraiser Opinion: This is true. Some appraisal orders can’t be completed on-site because one of the spouses won’t allow the Appraiser on the property.  When a drive-by appraisal is completed, there’s much less assurance of the value outcome – not nearly as reliable a value and can be picked apart in court.   And, I’ve even had one spouse have to escort me with an EBRP Sheriff Deputy at my side.


Neutral Unbiased Appraiser Important – Not To Get Swayed By Emotions Of Both Parties.  

Divorce attorneys usually try to agree on a neutral appraiser for both parties, but in hotly contested cases, each party may hire his or her own appraiser. Appraisers say two professional valuations typically should be within 10% of each other, but when the owners have competing interests, the variations can be significant.

Bill Cobb Appraiser Opinion: This can be a challenge because it’s been shown that wifes generally benefit less in a divorce, financially struggle more after a divorce and try to pull at the heart strings of the situation.  Sometimes the wife and her Attorney will want a low value and show Appraiser everything wrong with the home so she can afford to buy out half of home interest and a lower appraisal means less cost to her.  Then there’s the wife that wants Appraisal as high as possible to punish the husband, making the husband pay to the max to divide interest.   Then the husband and his Attorney make the case for a low value so husband by pay as little as possible to settle.  Or husband wants a high value so he can keep the house making it more difficult for wife to keep the house.  


Retrospective Values – Going Back In Time – This can be an easier assignment.

Some appraisals also involve retrospective valuing if, say, the husband owned the home prior to the marriage but the couple put $3 million into remodeling together; in that case, the appraiser has to estimate the value of the house both at the time of marriage and at the time of the divorce, and the court may decide that the wife is entitled to part of the home’s appreciation.

Bill Cobb Appraiser Opinion: This can be easier because there’s more non-renovated homes to use as potential comps than renovated.  It also depends on how far back in time the value is needed, ie., 2 years back is easier then 8 years back in time. 


RENOVATION EFFECT ON DIVORCE IS HIGH – This can be THE most difficult value to derive.

This brings up the renovation effect. Paradoxically, a number of couples who end up dividing up their property have just finished a major home upgrade. Mr. Miller, the New York appraiser, pulled data over the past three years and found that approximately 67% of properties his firm valued at $3 million or more for divorce matters were in the process of or had recently completed a gut renovation. He says some couples seem to use a major remodel as “a way to place a Band-Aid on a larger problem.”

Indeed, divorce attorneys, therapists and real-estate brokers say renovations bring differences between couples to a head, and by the time the remodel is completed, some couples decide to call it quits.


With 21+ years of experience as a Home Appraiser in Louisiana, Bill Cobb, Appraiser understands the challenges of completing the home appraisal and the pressure from both sides. One spouse wants the appraisal low so they can buy out the other spouse at a lower price and the other spouse wants it high so they can receive the maximum dollars out of the settlement. Bill Cobb will render a fair market value of the home without bias toward either of the parties involved.  225-293-1500

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