Article | Creating Resilience

How to safeguard your property ownership when ending a relationship

The growing sentiment towards property ownership is emphasising the importance of discreet professional services for when life doesn’t go to plan.

May 15, 2023

By Sheila Clark

The images shows a close up of a person signing a contract.

Australian women are more likely to own their property in high value locations including some of Sydney’s most exclusive suburbs. That’s according to comprehensive research from CoreLogic which also found that wealthy females were more inclined to buying property in comparison to wealthy males who preferenced purchasing shares. 

This growing sentiment towards property ownership amongst women emphasises the importance of professional services that can be relied on when life doesn’t go exactly to plan. When experiencing the emotional stresses of a divorce or separation, all parties need a qualified property valuation team in family law that can be trusted.  

CBRE’s Valuation Manager in Family Law and Legal Valuations, Sheila Clark, explains that the most effective property valuation processes are built on a foundation of mutual trust and connection with clients.  

“CBRE valuers don’t see valuations as just a job. We show respect and understanding towards each client’s situation.”  

Parties should choose property valuers based on:   

  • Their ability and foresight to put themselves in the client’s shoes  
  • Demonstrated confidence and integrity 


“A robust valuation report requires a skilled valuer with sufficient understanding of the current market conditions including the direction of the market, volume of sales and listings, rate of property sales and buyer profiles in specific locations or areas,” explains Clark. 

Conducting due diligence and verification 

Every client situation is unique in property valuation. Valuers perform best when they have acute knowledge of their geographical market. Parties who are seeking a reliable property valuer can follow CBRE’s comprehensive checklist below. 

All CBRE and experienced valuers can:  

  • Define the scope of work, execute the right type of investigations and information to be sourced before starting on an assignment  
  • Provide evidence of qualifications and professional membership with peak industry bodies including API and RICS  
  • Take the time to inspect every room while noting key features of the residence or detracting issues 
  • Communicate with the owner to identify important property features that can easily be missed  
  • Understand the unique features that are sought after in any particular market 
  • Understand the current market preference based on real-time industry trends, construction costs and external challenges 
  • Undertake their own external measurement of the dwelling and improvements instead of relying on basic marketing plans  
  • Select and compare the most relevant sales evidence from properties with similar attributes 
  • Provide an opinion on value by applying the fundamental core principles of property valuation 

There are simple ways to verify a property valuer before contracting their services. Clients or their legal representatives can directly request a valuer’s credentials and associated certificates. They can also verify these details via the Australian Property Institute (API). All of CBRE’s property valuers are listed on the API and can present their credentials on request.  
 
Family lawyers acting on behalf of clients are legally obligated to propose three property valuers before one is chosen based on suitability. Clients also have the authority to refuse a property valuer proposed by the family lawyer. Conflict of interest can also potentially implicate a fair property valuation, so valuers are obligated to declare instances where they have worked with any of the individual parties in the past.   

Understanding the jargon 

Modern relationships can present themselves in many forms. This is why it’s important to find a valuer who is professional, socially aware, open-minded and objective in the way they conduct their service irrespective of their client’s preference in relationships.  

Clark says that the most proficient valuers today also avoid using sensitive terms or technical jargon which can detract from the overall client experience.  

‘Divorce’ 

“Not all of our clients are married, and we have many de facto matters,” explains Clark. She also adds that not all valuations conducted are exclusively for separation cases.  

“It could also be for a Binding Financial Agreement where two people are in a happy relationship and wanted to put together the framework for handling financial issues if ever the two parties end up separating. Hence a valuer should not always assume that clients are simply separating or divorcing.”  

‘Husband’ or ‘Wife’ 


Same sex relationships means that valuers should refrain from assuming a client has a husband or wife and instead refer to individual clients as the ‘party to the matter’ or ‘they’.  

‘Sales evidence’ 

This is a very technical valuation term which tends to confuse clients, according to Clark.  

“When clients ask how we determine the value of property, the simple answer is by the direct comparison method. That is, we look at properties recently sold in the area that’s comparable to our subject property based on land size, dwelling size, location, property features and other details.  

“Valuers often label these as ‘sales evidence’ in their report and for many clients, the term ‘sales evidence’ is confusing. Valuers that can explain ‘sales evidence’ in more laymen terms will tend to perform better with clients.  

‘EMV’ 

Another technical term is ‘EMV’ which is used in the context of asking a client what the estimated value of their property is. This is a common question from a valuer or support team when taking enquiries.  

Some clients who receive this question can immediately lose confidence in the valuer as they assume that it’s the valuer’s job to research the answer.  

"It's a simple misunderstanding, but in my view, valuers who do ask clients the estimated value of their properties aren’t delivering the best service. It reflects on the valuer’s credibility, skills and client understanding,” says Clark.  

Ensuring client confidentiality 

Client confidentiality is paramount for any party seeking to keep their personal matters private. This is especially the case for high profile parties who may own expensive properties while working in the public eye. Ultimately, client confidentiality reflects the mutual trust aspect of the business, explains Clark.  

“Make sure that the valuation company has a dedicated team, manager and process for family law valuations. This will ensure that data handling will be conducted in accordance with the rules. The lead of this business line understands the process, rules and scope of work, which ensures a high quality of service. 

“A valuation firm that does not have this dedicated team suggests that they don’t do many family law valuations. This means that the firm might not have enough experience in dealing with this type of service with the consequence being a poor client experience and sub-standard results.” 

Finding the right talent 

Family law valuations and family law are highly specialised fields. A valuation team that specialises in family law is usually well connected within the specialised area and understands exactly how a sound and professional property valuation is critical to any negotiations or process.  

CBRE’s Residential Valuation specialists pride themselves on delivering the highest standard of service to every single client irrespective of gender. With 53 female residential valuers and 47 female commercial valuers currently employed within valuations division alone, every type of clientele can rest assured that CBRE’s professionalism, integrity and independence is always at the core of every case taken on.    

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