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How do I know the value of my home (real estate, house, land and trailer package, camper…)?

No one in the bankruptcy system truly believes that the tax value is a good measure of value. Most of my career it was almost always too low. Now that the real estate market bubble has burst, no one REALLY knows what real estate is worth but a recent estimate from a realtor is the best thing you can get.

If you list the wrong value, then you could lose your property in a chapter 7 bankruptcy because the chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee could get someone to give him the real value and you could find him selling your property.

I actually had a client whom I begged to get an appraisal of her land and home and she would not. She knew what it was worth. I then begged her daughter to get an appraisal and the two of them reassured me that the property wasn’t worth more than a certain amount. The mother filed bankruptcy and the chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee obtained an appraisal and sold the house for twice what my client “knew” the property was worth. She was homeless and got a check from the bankruptcy trustee for her share, or exemption.

The best way to know what your property is worth is to pay an appraiser, which may cost $250-500. The next best thing is to ask a realtor what you could sell your house for and he usually will give you an estimate. Write down who told you the estimate, when they told you and how much they said it was worth. I can use that, any old appraisals you have, as well as the tax value and they should be sufficient.

Mobile homes are a little different, but we can look up the value in the NADA book. However, I must have BOTH names of the mobile home. Saying you have a Fleetwood is like saying you have a Ford. A Ford WHAT? The name is usually on your title and the little plate on the side of the home. I also need the size (for example, 28 x 60 feet) and the year it was manufactured.

Regarding land contract purchase packages, these are difficult to locate data for because they are frequently in the owner’s name until the contract is paid off. For that reason, unless the property has been deeded into your name, we need the correct owner’s name so we can look up information at the courthouse.

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