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Manual > 11 - Property and Debt > Establishing Values

Establishing Values

Parties differ greatly in their approach to establishing value as part of their asset and debt division. Some parties go, essentially, by the "feel" of the situation, and only have a very general interest in valuing their assets and debts. Other parties may be extremely interested in pinpointing their property and debt values and in doing their very best to ensure that there is an equal division. Whether parties will be assisted by formal valuation of assets depends on the amount at issue and the way the parties make decisions about value. Some parties are extremely well informed as to real property values for properties in their neighborhood. There is a saying in the law that "every homeowner is an expert on the value of his or her home." Another option is for parties to obtain one or more "market analyses," which are, essentially, informal appraisals by brokers. Market analyses have become rather sophisticated, with the help of modern computer technology. Note, however, that market analyses may be biased toward an inflated value as the broker has his or her own interest in attracting the potential sale business. The most "scientific" assessment process available is, typically, a formal appraisal. Note, however, that even appraisals are biased. For example, an appraisal performed for bank refinancing purposes will typically be less than an appraisal performed to determine market value for sale. 

Valuation issues are similar with regard to other assets. Under almost all circumstances, the parties are faced with the decision between informally valuing the asset between them, accepting some informal third party's recommended value, or hiring an expert for evaluation.

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