Legal Support

 

The need for real estate appraisals has become increasingly common in litigation proceedings. Considering today’s legal climate, to win settlements or court decisions involves a need for highly skilled professionals. Schnepf Ellsworth Appraisal Group LLC’s staff has tremendous experience in litigation support and expert witness services. Clients who have used our expert testimony services include government agencies, tax entities, financial institutions, legal and accounting firms and many other businesses.

In many cases, our independent, supportable analysis has allowed clients to settle cases without going to court. Some examples of issues we have experience with include:

  • Valuation for divorce, partnership, taxation issues etc.
  • Valuation of stigmatized property
  • Valuation as of a date in the past, retrospective
  • Valuation for condemnation and eminent domain cases
  • Effect on value of properties with history of flood
  • Estate settlement
  • Effect on value caused by insect infestation
  • Construction defect, or physical obsolescence
  • Developer defect class-actions

An appraiser must remain unbiased in performing an appraisal of a property. But we can consult with you and advise you about the relative strength of an appraisal presented by opposing parties. We can also perform additional research and analysis to support or discredit assumptions or conclusions.

Divorce Appraisals

Finalizing a divorce involves many decisions, including “Who gets the house”? There are generally two options regarding the house – it can be sold and the proceeds divided, or one party can “buy out” the other. In either case, one or both parties should order an appraisal of the residence. Divorce appraisals require a well supported, professional appraisal that is defensible in court. When you order an appraisal from us, you are assured that you will get the best in professional service, courtesy, and the highest quality appraisal. We also know how to handle the sensitive needs of a divorce situation.

Attorneys and Accountants rely on our values when calculating real property values for estates, divorces, or other disputes requiring a value being placed on real property. We understand their needs and are used to dealing with all parties involved. We provide appraisal reports that meet the requirements of the courts and various agencies.

As an attorney handling a divorce, your needs oftentimes include an appraisal to establish fair market value for the residential real estate involved. Often the divorce date differs from the date you order the appraisal. We are familiar with the procedures and requirements necessary to perform a retroactive appraisal with an effective date and Fair Market Value estimate matching the date of divorce. The ethics provision within the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) binds us with confidentiality, ensuring the fullest degree of discretion.

Estate Appraisals

Settling an estate is an important and sometimes stressful job. As an executor you have been entrusted to carry out the wishes of the deceased as swiftly and exactly as possible. You can count on us to act quickly and with sensitivity to the feelings of everyone involved. Attorneys and Accountants rely on our values when calculating real property values for estates, divorces, or other disputes requiring a value being placed on real property. We understand their needs and are used to dealing with all parties involved. We provide appraisal reports that meet the requirements of the courts and various agencies.

Settling an estate usually requires an appraisal to establish Fair Market Value for the residential property involved. Often, the date of death differs from the date the appraisal is requested. We are familiar with the procedures and requirements necessary to perform a retroactive appraisal with an effective date and Fair Market Value estimate matching the date of death. The ethics provision within the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) binds us with confidentiality, ensuring the fullest degree of discretion.

All too often, people do not fully appreciate the need to have a detailed real estate appraisal prepared in support of the numbers being used in documents filed with revenue authorities. Opinions of value used in documents filed with the revenue authorities should be supported by a detailed report as to how the appraiser arrived at his conclusions. Such a report will certainly demonstrate to the authorities that the numbers used are well founded and substantiated.

Having a professional appraisal gives the executor solid facts and figures to work with in meeting IRS and state agency requirements. It assures peace of mind to everyone concerned because we are there to stand behind the appraisal if it is challenged.

Date of death valuations

Estate tax liability. Disposition of assets under a will or in probate. There are many situations — none of them lacking stress and complexity — where you might need an appraisal of property that states an opinion of what the property was worth on a date some time ago, rather than when the appraisal is ordered. For estate tax purposes or disposition of the assets of a decedent, a “date of death” valuation is often required. (Sometimes, the executor of the estate may choose to have the date be six months after the date of death — but the same principles apply.)

Attorneys, accountants, executors and others rely on Schnepf Ellsworth Appraisal Group LLC for “date of death” valuations because such appraisals require special expertise and training. They require a firm that’s been in the area for some time and can effectively research comparable contemporaneous sales.

Real property isn’t like publicly traded stock or other items which don’t fluctuate in value very much or for which historical public data is available. You need a professional real estate appraiser, bound by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) for a high degree of confidentiality and professionalism, and you need the kind of quality report and work product taxing authorities and courts need and expect. Please browse our website to learn more about our qualifications, expertise and services offered.

Assessment appeal services

Most localities determine your property tax burden based on an ad valorem assessment of the property’s value. Sometimes, as a property owner, you get an unwanted surprise in the mail telling you your taxes are going up, and sometimes it may seem as though your assessment is too high. Often, matters like this can be resolved with a phone call. However, if after discussing your assessment with your local taxing authority you still feel as though your property was overvalued, a professional, independent, third-party appraiser is often your best bet in proving your case. That’s where we come in. There are as many different procedures for appealing assessments as there are property taxing districts, so it’s important to enlist the help of a professional appraisal firm that’s experienced and trained in the ins and outs of your particular jurisdiction.

Please note: It makes sense to do your own research before determining whether to go forward with a property assessment appeal, especially before you make the decision to hire a professional appraiser. However, according to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), we are not allowed to take “shortcuts” — i.e., your research — and use it on its face as part of our independent evaluation. When you hire us for an assessment appeal, you’re commissioning an independent, third-party professional appraisal report. As such we do our own evaluation, beginning to end. If you’re right that your property has been overvalued, an independent report such as ours will be even more persuasive than any other evidence you can marshal on your own. But it depends on our ability to do the work independently.

Sometimes, you will have a hearing on your assessment appeal and will need for the appraiser you’ve hired to testify on your behalf. Be assured that at Schnepf Ellsworth Appraisal Group, we are able to professionally and persuasively testify at appeal hearings. Browse our website to learn more about our qualifications, expertise and services offered.

Condemnation appraisal

It’s not just a good idea — and it’s not just the law — it’s your constitutional right that if the government wants to condemn your property, or take it from you by means of “eminent domain,” it must give you “just” compensation. That’s where we come in.

The government is likely to have its own idea of “just” compensation, maybe based on a professional appraisal. But an appraisal on your behalf, performed under the standards of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), is powerful — and useful — evidence of what you’re entitled to, and protects your rights.

It works the other way, too. We perform work for government clients needing to offer and provide “just” compensation in eminent domain cases. A USPAP-compliant appraisal is the best way to determine fair market value of any property.

If the above makes condemnation appraisals sound simple, that’s not the case. There are many legal and procedural issues involved in an accurate condemnation appraisal. A federal condemnation will require a different analysis and report format than a state or local taking. And in any event, the jurisdiction proposing to condemn the property is likely to have its own rules for appraisal that must be followed. It is important to hire an appraisal firm that has experience and training in these types of valuations.

An eminent domain action may reserve certain rights in the property to the current owner. The government may petition to take only part of, or a partial interest in, the property. This requires the appraiser to value the “larger parcel” — the currently undivided, contiguous property — and the “remainder” of the property, or rights to use the property, that will be held by the owner after condemnation and factor that into the overall value of the taken property. For an added wrinkle, it will often be necessary for the appraiser to determine his or her opinion of value on the “remainder” before the taking and after the development or use prompting the taking, because they are likely to be very different.

Likewise, appraisers always consider a property’s “highest and best use” when formulating an opinion of value. For many condemnation appraisals, it is necessary to consider the highest and best use of the property before taking and after the development or use resulting from the taking. Again, it is important to have a professional appraiser with experience and training.

Because an appraiser may often have to testify about his or her condemnation appraisal, it is important that certain steps in valuation methodology — such as selecting and analyzing comparable sales — be performed more thoroughly. You rely on your appraiser to know what’s necessary, so again, it’s important to select an appraiser/company that has experience and training.

Here at Schnepf Ellsworth Appraisal Group LLC, we are ready and able to perform your condemnation/eminent domain appraisal. Browse our website to learn more about our qualifications, expertise and services offered.

Expert Witness Testimony

We offer a full range of Real Estate Appraisal services, with experience in many types of property. We are also experienced in litigation support and expert witness services. Clients who have used our expert testimony services include government agencies, tax entities, financial institutions, legal and accounting firms and many other businesses. In many cases, our independent, supportable analysis has allowed clients to settle cases without going to court.

An appraiser must remain unbiased in performing an appraisal of a property. But we can consult with you and advise you about the relative strength of an appraisal presented by opposing parties. We can also perform additional research and analysis to support or discredit assumptions or conclusions.

Some examples of issues we have experience with include:

  • Valuation of “stigmatized” property
  • Valuation as of a date in the past
  • Valuation for condemnation and eminent domain cases
  • Effect on value of properties with history of flood
  • Estate settlement
  • Valuation for divorce, partnership, taxation issues etc.

With our experience and proven track record we are ready to take on any type of appraisal assignment and our appraisal values stand up under the most severe scrutiny.

 

For more information, contact us.