Real Estate

Dividing Residential Real Estate In Divorce

Discover how to reduce disputes over real estate values during divorce, minimizing disagreements and post-decree risks.

Most divorces require valuing some type of marital property. However, emotions and the stakes are much higher when valuing real estate than other less valuable properties.

With average home values now over half a million dollars in much of Colorado, reasonable differences of opinion as little as five or ten percent mean a big dollar difference of twenty-five to fifty thousand dollars in the value of the property. To help reduce and even eliminate disagreements about the value of a home, we employ a specific process to achieve great results. Instead of trying to get couples to agree on a specific value, we focus on helping them agree on a specific method to determine the value of any real estate before deciding who will retain the property.

There are many benefits to using this process:

  • Eliminates the typical approach where each spouse orders an appraisal and then argues which one should be used.
  • It is much easier for couples to negotiate the process than the actual value, where they usually feel they won, lost, or settled.
  • Coming to an agreement on the valuation process significantly reduces lengthy disagreements about the value. Additionally, the resulting won/ lost mentality when a value is finally reached often harms the rest of the divorce process.
  • It eliminates inherent conflict of interest where the spouse retaining the home benefits from a lower value while a spouse who is not keeping the house benefits from a higher value. Even if one of them is accurate, their position is undermined by this obvious self-serving outcome.
  • Removes the tactic of one spouse ordering their own appraisal without notifying the other party and only presenting that value when it is in their favor.


  • AGREEMENT: Simply agree on the value of the property together. This is great when it works.
  • BROKER PRICE OPINION: A real estate agent completes a market analysis and provides a report with their opinion of value if they were to list the property for sale in the current market.
  • AUTOMATED VALUATIONS: Free valuations, including websites like Zillow and Trulia or paid valuation reports from providers like Black Knight and Clear Capital, provide a computer-based value using property and current market data.
  • TRADITIONAL APPRAISAL: Order an appraisal from a licensed appraiser in the area. There are many types of appraisals, from inspecting the interior and exterior of the home to only driving by the property or even a “desk appraisal,” where the appraiser uses information available electronically to determine their opinion of value, so be specific.
  • COMBINATION FORMULA: This is a wild-card option where couples are only limited by their imagination, budgets, and time. Using any of the methods above, they can use the average or median value from a set of multiple values. They can also agree to discard the high and low values from their data set or mix and match the methods.

Ultimately, the only way to know a property's true market value is to put it on the market and sell it. Unfortunately, this is not a viable option when one spouse wants to keep the property.

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