At Fast Appraisals we have a lot of respect for all our fellow real estate appraisers and we know that going to court to provide expert witness testimony for an appraisal report you prepared can be very intimidating. I’m in and out of court a few times a month to provide testimony on appraisals we’ve prepared for tax appeals, bankruptcies and divorce and although I like the break-up of normal appraiser monotony, I see other appraisers who look petrified or distressed, so I’ve prepared a few tips for fellow appraisers being called to testify on one of their reports. (Inspired by Appraisal for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Providing Expert Witness Testimony, providing testimony against another appraiser with a very different value.)
1) Use Professional Courtesy
Don’t attack the other appraiser. Instead, focus on analysis of the other report – the facts and experiences. In my case I had actually talked with the other appraiser prior to the hearing in the waiting room. I have a lot of respect for our appraiser peers and he didn’t want to even be there. And although we’re two people with conflicting agendas, meaning we’re both explaining why our report is more credible, it’s best to remain professional and there’s no need to take things personal. I actually don’t mind going to court at all – I consider it part of my professional outreach and appreciate the change in scenery from time to time.
2) Expert Witness Testimony
As appraisers we are not obligated to testify as an expert witness as part of providing the report. We are the most qualified to testify about the report we prepared and I would recommend you do, but make sure to get paid as an expert witness. We don’t have to show up to court without a subpoena and if we are subpoenaed we still get paid as an expert witness. If we are not getting paid as an expert witness, we are obligated to only discuss the report in front of us from a factual standpoint. However, the party requesting your support on their behalf should be happy to pay you a professional rate. In this case neither one of was was subpoenaed and the other party, if they did not show up (on three days notice) would have either resulted in a continuance and long delays or they would have had to go without their expertise.
3) Have Confidence in Your Appraisal Report
As long as a credible, quality, appraisal report is provided from the beginning, we as appraisers should have confidence in supporting our decisions in court. Remember, it’s not our job to arrive at a predetermined value but to look at all the data and help people make decisions to move on and resolve issues – whether it’s to appeal tax values, settle a divorce, an estate or a bankruptcy. The system, although not perfect, seems to work very well.
4) Be Prepared but Not Over-Prepared
Overall, knowing what to expect is important to helping the hearing go smooth. Prepare yourself mentally to be a confident witness who’s objective is to deliver helpful information for the court to determine the value of the property. But don’t over-prepare or over-analyze your report or beat yourself up or second guess a decision to use a comp or make an adjustment. Just relax and explain why you made the decisions you made that resulted in the value you delivered. In this case when I didn’t have the answers in front of me or on the top of my head, I simply said so. I did feel sympathy for my peer in this case. It was his first time appearing in court as an expert witness on his own appraisal report and he knew my credentials were superior than his in this particular case – which can certainly establish you as a superior witness when it’s one expert’s opinion against another.
Related Posts Discussing Court Appearances:
The process of going through a divorce is generally not pleasurable – but assessing the value of your property doesn’t have to be a hurdle. Although a divorce will require a professional assessment of what your marital property is worth, the property valuation for your divorce can be a simple process. At Cleveland Home Appraisals (aka FAST Appraisals) we have been working with home owners throughout Northeast Ohio – including Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Medina, Lorain and Summit counties to provide quality home appraisal reports in divorce cases for many years.
Expert Testimony – Divorce Appraisal
The majority of home valuations we deliver at Cleveland Home Appraisals for the divorce process are completed quickly and without the need for a court appearance. However, when a court appearance is necessary, our certified appraisers also deliver expert divorce appraisal testimony where we support our reports at a hearing and/or with additional supporting market valuation data.
Although we work on a number of divorce case appraisals and most are not contested, whether the case is contested or collaborative, Cleveland Home Appraisals (also doing business as FAST Appraisals) consistently gathers all the information possible to present the most thorough report.
Multiple Valuations: Marriage, Property Improvements and Divorce
A recent divorce case we worked on in Cuyahoga county required multiple valuations over the course of the marriage.
1. Property Value at the Time of the Marriage: Assessing the property value at the time of the marriage requires research to determine a Retrospective Appraisal, or the value of the property based on a date in the past.
2. Value of Improvements Made During Marriage: Determining the value of improvements made during the time of the marriage will involve gathering details of all home improvements made and the impact they would have on the value of the property. The value of home improvements are typically more difficult for parties to agree on and can seem more subjective, however when our certified home appraisers provide supportive, detailed valuations and adjustments, the data can be compelling.
3. Value of Property at Time of Divorce: Whether one of the parties is keeping the home, or the property is being sold to divide proceeds, an appraisal of the home’s market value at the time of the divorce will likely be required .
Appraisal to Determine if Home Can be Sold
Lastly, a recent divorce appraisal case for Cleveland Home Appraisals was in order to determine if the home owned by the couple could be sold for an amount that would cover mortgages and fees. The couple going through the divorce preferred to acquire a certified real estate appraisal rather than consult with a realtor in order to determine from an unbiased source what the home’s market value was. In this particular case, our certified appraisers worked directly with the attorneys and determined the sale of the property was definitely a feasible option for the home owners.
The team at Cleveland Home Appraisals specializes in working with home owners, attorneys and lending professionals to provide quality home appraisals for divorce, bankruptcy, estate appraisals, tax appeal, pre-listing appraisals and more throughout the Greater Cleveland area. Contact Cleveland Home Appraisal for a professional property valuation of your home for a divorce appraisal.
by calling us at 216-932-4663, or fill out the contact us form on our SERVICES page. Give as much information as you can, and we’ll get back in touch with you to process the appraisal order.