When you submit a petition in a Virginia court to legally end your marriage, you must resolve any number of issues regarding marital property and assets. Divorce issues can be complex, especially if a particular legal problem arises that you’re unsure how to resolve. If you happen to be a person who is not Caucasian, you’ll want to be aware of a particular problem many people have encountered regarding home valuations in divorce.
You and your spouse may decide to sell the home you shared during marriage or to refinance and split the equity. In either case, you cannot achieve a fair settlement without knowing the current market value of your home. Here is where a licensed real estate appraiser comes into the picture; here, also, is where many non-Caucasian people say they have faced discrimination because of their race.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 protects homeowners against discrimination
A licensed real estate appraiser is supposed to use standardized methods to assess the value of your home. Your race, gender, faith affiliation, age, etc., has nothing to do with the process — at least, it’s not supposed to. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 made it illegal to discriminate against homeowners by intentionally submitting appraisals under market value.
Appraisers should compare your property to similar homes in the area
One of the methods real estate appraisers use to assess the current market value of your home is to conduct what is known as a “comparative analysis,” which means they compare your home to others that are similar in your local region that have recently sold.
When you’re preparing for property division proceedings in a divorce, you can reasonably expect an appraiser to use existing methods to provide a fair market valuation of your home. If an appraiser under-values your home, it may have a significant impact on your settlement.
Your home is likely one of your largest assets
Unless you have a professional background in real estate appraisals, it’s understandable to logically assume that the appraiser you hire to conduct a market valuation on your home is going to provide a fair assessment. Divorce is stressful enough without having to worry about discrimination having a negative impact on property division proceedings.
If you believe that an appraiser has under-valued your home, you can request a Reconsideration of Value (ROV). You definitely don’t have to sit back and do nothing, especially if you think the under-valuation was due to discrimination and are concerned that you will not receive all that you’re entitled to in divorce because of it.