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Appraising Residential Properties for Divorce Proceedings

By Janine Campeau Ewald

What is a Real Estate Appraisal?

A real estate appraisal is an estimate of value for a particular piece of property as of a specific date. Real Estate Appraisers are federally regulated and state certified or licensed. Certification implies a higher standard of education and experience. In addition they may be designated by trade organizations that develop reputations for education, proficiency, and experience levels beyond the federal and state requirements.  There are strict standards of conduct and ethics that an appraiser must adhere to whenever producing an appraisal. Besides the manner in which the appraisal is conducted, the appraiser must give an unbiased opinion of value.

If Real Estate Appraisers are regulated and by law must give an unbiased opinion, why should my spouse and I both hire an appraiser?

The appraisal process requires the appraiser to gather and analyze information about:

  • The property to be appraised (known as the subject property)
  • The neighborhood, locality and region
  • Local tax, zoning and building codes, regulations and practices
  • The real estate market in which it is located
  • Supply and demand for that property type
  • The financial market in which the subject is located
  • Any data relevant to the subject

If each appraiser does their job proficiently, the data they collect relevant to appraising your property should be similar. Once they begin to analyze the data, and draw conclusions, however, the process becomes more of an art than a science. The resulting appraisal becomes "an opinion" of value.

This does not preclude the appraiser from supporting their conclusions, and presenting the conclusion in an appraisal report. The report should be in a format that allows the user of the appraisal to understand the process, follow the reasoning, and agree or disagree with the conclusion.

If each appraiser does an honest and proficient job, shouldn't the opinion of value be the same?

It is typical for appraisals to differ in value as much as 10% while each appraisal is substantially supported and reasonably analyzed.

For differences of up to 10%, a common practice is for the judge to split the difference if both appraisals are proficiently prepared and well supported. Let's say one appraisal comes in for $400,000. The second appraisal comes in 10% higher at $440,000. If the judge splits the difference it will mean one party will net $20,000 more (or less) in the disposition of the property.

What if the two appraisals are substantially different in value?

There are times when the two appraisals are worlds apart. When this happens the judge can do one of two things, he can rely on the appraisal that has the best support for it's value, or he can order a third appraisal and see which appraisal is more closely supported by that appraisal.

This guest article is courtesy of

Janine Campeau Ewald

NYS Certified General

Real Estate Appraiser


Janine Campeau Ewald is a NY State Certified General Real Estate Appraiser with over 20 years of experience in residential, and commercial properties. Janine has appraised properties for financing, tax grievance, divorces, estates, prospective investment, foreclosure, eminent domain, and land preservation. Janine is certified to teach appraisal licensing courses for New York State.

This article by Janine Campeau Ewald is provided as a free educational service by J. Douglas Barics, attorney at law, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice may only come from a qualified attorney who is familiar with the facts and circumstances of a specific case.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Mr. Barics at or (631) 864-2600, or Janine Campeau Ewald at (516) 445-7616. For more articles and information, please visit and Allied Services Appraisal Professional.

Copyright © 2007-2016 by J. Douglas Barics, attorney-at-law. All rights reserved.
J. Douglas Barics, Esq. – Divorce, family, matrimonial, trial and appeals lawyer in Long Island, New York.

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