Ending a property partnership is often a lot like getting divorced. Most splits are the result of an irrevocable break in the personal relationship of the partners, the investment becoming a cash drain, or siblings who inherited property together and now want to sell. In a perfect world, property partnerships end when all partners are ready to sell and move on. But when that is not the case, being able to agree on the value of the property based on a rational evaluation can save all parties concerned a lot of wasted time and resources.
Taking a business-like approach to setting a value on property owned in a partnership is the best way to avoid costly litigation, according to "Splitting up property is hard to do," from The Orange County (CA) Register. Unfortunately, this is not always what happens when it becomes necessary to place a value on jointly owned property.
If you are really interested in getting to a fair property value for all concerned, there's a formula for the situation where one party wants to purchase the other party's share and keep the property. In that case, each party chooses one appraiser, and each conducts his or her own appraisals. Then the two appraisers agree on a third appraiser to do another appraisal. The final value is an average of the two appraised values closest to each other.
Here's an example of how this works. Partner A's appraiser determines that the value is $650,000, and Partner B's appraiser values the property at $745,000. Then, the mutually-chosen appraiser conducts her appraisal and determines that the value is $690,000. The closest value to the third appraiser's estimate is by Partner A's appraiser: $650,000. The average of the two is $670,000. Party B's appraisal is thrown out.
This type of methodology makes both appraisers reasonable so that their value isn't the one that's knocked out.
A qualified estate planning attorney can help shepherd this process and refer you to appraisers as needed.
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