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Divorce Home Appraisals Baton Rouge: 4 Reasons NOT To Order Drive-By Appraisal

Divorce Home Appraisals Baton Rouge: 4 Reasons NOT To Order Drive-By Appraisal

The Wall Street Journal recently said, “In a divorce, there’s one person who is almost as important as the lawyers: the real-estate appraiser.”  And, generally in a divorce, the home is often one of the biggest assets being divided. In a Baton Rouge Divorce, maintain as much control of your life and your finances as possible.  Don’t allow your Baton Rouge Divorce Attorney to choose a Baton Rouge Drive-By Appraisal as the method to value your home.  

APPRAISAL METHODS – Full Inspections are most certain: Drive-By inspections are least certain. 

Drive-By Appraisal Inspection – The appraiser evaluates the home from the front of the property. This external evaluation is combined with document research of public records completed by the appraiser.

Walk-Through Appraisal Inspection – The appraiser will make a physical inspection of the inside and exterior of the home. The information gathered in this inspection will be combined with a review of public record information to create the final appraisal.

Source: Guidelines For Home Appraisals  



1.) Lack of Accuracy – Simply A Guess Is Foolish


Drive-By Appraisals can be simply a guess from the street of gross living area size, age, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and amenities.  Certainly a 2,000sf home is valued higher than a 1,600sf home.  200sf, 400sf, 600sf, 1000sf differences make a huge differences in value when homes in Baton Rouge are selling between $60/sf up to $300/sf.  

Can’t the gross living area be obtained from the buiding permit office? Short answer is yes and no and possibly not. The East Baton Rouge Parish public records system is decades behind the times, embarrassingly so. Permit data was only recently within the past few years begun to be compiled online, accessed by employees, not online to the public. EBRP permit data is not even available to the extent that the national Buildfax Database doesn’t even have records for Baton Rouge based on my 10 attempts to use. 

GBRMLS (Greater Baton Rouge Multiple Listing Service) is the online resource for Baton Rouge REALTORS® and Appraisers with data dating back to 1997.  Sometimes, a home previously listed in MLS can be pulled up for data, if it has been listed since 1997. 

Do Drive-By Appraisals have a poor reputation?  Generally Yes unless significant verification from MLS or homeowners can be made. Need Proof?  Read: ‘Drive By’ Appraisal Shortchanges Homeowner By $157,000


2.) Unknown, Undocumented Condition

In Divorce Court, photos of video of condition are extremely important in winning a case, in proving possibly that home is severely dated and needs $40,000 in updates and upgrades to bring it up to marketable condition. 

Were renovations made to home based on East Baton Rouge public permit records?  Again, the manner in which permit records data isn’t kept up with online makes this difficult to rely on. There was a lawsuit by a Bank against an Appraiser because the Appraiser didn’t verify the total gut rehab permit.  Basically, the Appraiser valued the home as if it were in good condition when in reality it was just a shell on interior. 

What if spouse divorcing hasn’t lived in home for 1-3 years?  Is it likely the condition could have deteriorated? Yes, it could.  Below is a photo of recent water damage in a home where the roof looked fine but was obviously leaking into home.


3.) Functional Issues Can Lower Your Home’s Value – Whether You Recognize Them or Not

This was a 3rd Bedroom, now opened up with only 2 bedrooms and home is having problems selling!

In Photo: This was a 3rd Bedroom, now opened up to create only 2 bedrooms and now home is having problems selling!

Functional Obsolescence In Real Estate, by Bill Gassett, is a good read on understanding functional issues.  Bill says,

Functional obsolescence in Real Estate can be defined as a few different things but more often than not it pertains to a property not complying with recognized utility. In other words there are features that are not practical or desirable.

There are numerous examples of functional obsolescence but one that hits close to home was a property I recently sold that had more than a few flaws. This particular property was very large in size – 4000 plus square feet. The home, however did not have a formal dining or living room. Many of the newer homes today are built without one of these formal spaces but rarely are both missing. Strike #1

Some other examples of functional obsolescence in homes include:

  • All bedrooms on the 2nd floor and the only bath located on the 1st floor.
  • Walking through one bedroom to get to another.
  • Walking through a dining room or living room to get to a bedroom.
  • Walking through a formal space to enter the garage.”


4.) Higher Chance Of Being Challenged In Court – Like Wearing A “Kick Me!” Sign On Your Back


Drive-By Appraisals leave a lot of unanswered questions, Extraordinary Assumptions and Hypothetical Conditions, which only lead to a higher chance of your case being challenged and picked a part in court.  

Are Drive-By Appraisal Questioned?  Google the phrase “Drive-By Appraisal” and you’ll see page after page about the validity and legality of this product.  And, see Questioning a ‘drive-by’ appraisal



With 21+ years of experience as a Home Appraiser in Louisiana, Bill Cobb, Appraiser understands the challenges of completing the home appraisal and the pressure from both sides. One spouse wants the appraisal low so they can buy out the other spouse at a lower price and the other spouse wants it high so they can receive the maximum dollars out of the settlement. Bill Cobb will render a fair market value of the home without bias toward either of the parties involved.  Call 225-293-1500 or visit http://www.batonrougedivorceappraisals.com/ 


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