• news-banner

    Expert Insights

Matrimonial home valuations in lockdown: can they be trusted?

For many of our clients, the family home represents a significant asset in the matrimonial pot. In the event of a divorce, agreeing what should happen to the family home, be it a sale, with a possible unequal division of the proceeds, or a transfer into one party’s sole name, can hold the key to reaching a negotiated financial settlement.

The starting point is to agree the value of the property, often with the assistance of estate agents or a chartered surveyor. Where one party wishes to retain the family home, or the settlement provides for a sale of the home with an unequal division of the proceeds, the accuracy of the valuation, and whether it is agreed by both parties, is of utmost importance.

In the light of the Coronavirus pandemic, there will likely be increased scope to challenge valuations, particularly those obtained before the housing market was temporarily suspended on 23 March. This has the potential to derail or draw out financial negotiations, in what is a fast changing situation, but with little end in sight.  

There is still much uncertainty around the effect of COVID-19 on the housing market; whilst Savills predict a fall in prices of 5-10 per cent this year, there are reports of a surge in demand for properties in rural areas, particularly those that offer larger gardens. Anecdotally, we have heard of Coronavirus being used to try and renegotiate discounts of up to 20 per cent on agreed sales prices.

In this climate, it can be difficult to advise our clients on whether to rely on a property valuation in the context of a financial negotiation. Some clients may wish to put negotiations on hold to see what the future brings, particularly as Savills are expecting house prices to rise in 2021/2022. But for those of whom this is not an option, or where there is a pressing need to find a resolution, it may be necessary to adopt a more strategic approach. For such clients, my Private Property colleagues and I have put together the following tips

  1. Request an updated valuation. When entering into negotiations, an up-to-date valuation (even with caveats and projections) will be more persuasive than an outdated valuation.

  2. Consider instructing a chartered surveyor. Most surveyors should be able to provide a comprehensive report explaining how the final valuation has been reached. Given the uncertain market conditions, a detailed examination (and possible challenge) of the report by the other side is to be expected, and a surveyor will be best placed to assist with answering any questions which may arise.

  3. Test the property on the market. This is the only way to really know how your property might perform on the open market. Offers received from prospective buyers may provide a starting point for agreeing a valuation.

  4. Consider equal sharing of assets where the value is not agreed. Splitting the risk evenly may encourage resolution, as neither party will be worse off as a result of the valuation.

Where sale proceeds from the matrimonial home will be used to purchase a new property, clients may also wish to consider their ability to obtain a mortgage in the current market since some banks have changed their lending criteria, and the level of deposit they are able to offer, particularly if other investments such as stocks, shares or interest on savings are performing poorly.

Ultimately, it is still too early to predict the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the housing market. For clients who are not able to wait and see what the future holds, which is often the case in the context of a divorce, it is particularly important to take advice on how to value the matrimonial home in the current climate.

For more information please contact Rebecca Day at rebecca.day@crsblaw.com or on +44 (0)20 7438 2226.

Our thinking

  • Women in Leadership: Planning for the future

    Sarah Wigington

    Events

  • Planning and Life Sciences: the challenges and opportunities in the Golden Triangle

    Sophie Willis

    Quick Reads

  • Personnel Today quotes Rose Carey on Italy’s new digital nomad visa

    Rose Carey

    In the Press

  • Essential Intelligence – UAE Fraud, Asset Tracing & Recovery

    Sara Sheffield

    Insights

  • IFA Magazine quotes Julia Cox on the possibility of more tax cuts before the general election

    Julia Cox

    In the Press

  • ‘One plus one makes two': Court of Protection finds conflict of interest within law firm structure

    Katie Foulds

    Insights

  • City AM quotes Charlotte Duly on Tesco’s Clubcard rebrand after losing battle with Lidl

    Charlotte Duly

    In the Press

  • Michael Powner writes for Raconteur on AI and automating back-office roles

    Michael Powner

    In the Press

  • Arbitration: Getting value for your money

    Daniel McDonagh

    Insights

  • Portfolio Adviser quotes Richard Ellis on the FCA's first public findings against former fund manager Neil Woodford

    Richard Ellis

    In the Press

  • eprivateclient quotes Sally Ashford on considerations around power of attorney

    Sally Ashford

    In the Press

  • Michael Powner and Sophie Rothwell write for Law360 on anti-bias protection

    Michael Powner

    In the Press

  • Computer says No - my prediction of UK border chaos on Wednesday 1 January 2025

    Paul McCarthy

    Quick Reads

  • Providing pro bono support on social housing issues

    Susan Field

    Insights

  • Charles Russell Speechlys Partner Promotions 2024

    Bart Peerless

    News

  • Has a new route to recovery opened up for victims of banking payment frauds?

    Katie Bewick

    Insights

  • Charles Russell Speechlys boosts its Real Estate offering with the arrival of Kim Lalli and Rafe Courage

    Kim Lalli

    News

  • Cosmopolitan quotes Sarah Jane Boon on how to deal with break-up admin

    Sarah Jane Boon

    In the Press

  • Property Patter: Building and Fire Safety Miniseries - part 1

    Michael O'Connor

    Podcasts

  • Sex discrimination at work

    Michael Powner

    Insights

  • Daniel Sullivan writes for Law360 on hundreds of 'rogue filings' being lodged via Companies House and advice for affected banks

    Daniel Sullivan

    In the Press

  • The Financial Times, The Guardian and City AM quote Sophie Dworetzsky and Dominic Lawrance on Labour’s proposed tax crackdown on non-doms

    Sophie Dworetzsky

    In the Press

  • London’s Knowledge Clusters: From Emerging to Maturing – Start Ups on the Global Stage?

    Lynsey Inglis

    Quick Reads

  • Britain's most successful female Olympian has retired at 31, but how does the Family Court treat (early) retirement?

    Matt Foster

    Quick Reads

  • Fashion and the Green Claims Code brought into focus by open letter from the CMA.

    Ilona Bateson

    Quick Reads

  • How the abolition of Multiple Dwellings Relief affects Build to Rent

    William Marriott

    Quick Reads

  • Will new powers at Companies House stop or slow down fraudsters?

    Peter Carlyon

    Quick Reads

  • Charles Russell Speechlys hosts international arbitration event in Dubai

    Peter Smith

    Quick Reads

  • It’s not just a High Court decision, it’s a successful M&S High Court Decision

    Sophie Willis

    Quick Reads

  • 'Saltburn': How the Catton family could have protected the Saltburn estate and could Oliver's inheritance still be contested? (Part 2)

    Grace O'Leary

    Quick Reads

  • 'Saltburn': How the Catton family could have protected the Saltburn estate and could Oliver's inheritance still be contested? (Part 1)

    Grace O'Leary

    Quick Reads

  • The ongoing fight against fakes

    Charlotte Duly

    Quick Reads

  • Beware of not obtaining a court order when settling your finances

    Julia Mauricio

    Quick Reads

  • Planning essentials case update: when can an enforcement notice against an unlawful use also require the removal of related structures?

    Sadie Pitman

    Quick Reads

  • Vulnerable elders : a harrowing story and the lessons which need to be learnt

    Sarah Wray

    Quick Reads

  • Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill: Will new consumer protection rules restrict access to Gift Aid?

    Quick Reads

  • Home buyers and sellers hit by cyber-attack

    William Marriott

    Quick Reads

  • International Relocation: The Parent Trap 25 years on ...

    Joshua Green

    Quick Reads

  • Autumn Statement provides little comfort for farmers and landowners

    Hannah Connors

    Quick Reads

  • Top Tips to Building your Brand - Women in Chancery

    Katelyn Silver

    Quick Reads

Back to top