By: Sarah Stewart Legal Group, PLLC
I often have clients ask me how they can find the value of real property. They may need to report the value to a Court for probate, or they may be looking to sell their house or put a value on it for estate planning and financial planning purposes. As usual, the answer is: “It depends.”
Luckily for most Oklahomans, and those who are out of state, but need to probate or value property in Oklahoma, most Oklahoma counties have their own sites where you can look up property information. If the County does not have a web site, you can always visit their County Assessor offices to access the information. In Oklahoma, county assessors do regular property valuations for property tax purposes. The information on assessor valuations are usually easy to find. Sometimes, you may have to pay a fee to access the information, but the fee is much lower than hiring an actual appraiser.
Most of the time this value is close enough. But, if the property is on one of two ends of an extreme, either the property is very run down and has not been kept up, or the property has had a lot of improvements, maybe additions to the home or guest houses built on the property, the assessor value will not be enough. In this case you will have two options. (1) You can look at the sale prices of similar homes in the area over the past few months or a year (the Oklahoma County assessor site will provide this information for you for Oklahoma County), or (2) you can hire an appraiser, or possibly a real estate agent, to assess the value of the property.
Often, this process can work for mineral interests as well. If the property does not have an oil and gas lease, then the property value would be the amount you could sale the unleased interests for. Sometimes, that can be the assessed value. If the property is leased, you should be able to get information on the value of the lease from the oil and gas company leasing the property. Keep in mind that if you do not have an ownership interest in the oil and gas leases, you may need to go through probate before the company will share this information with you. Even if you have someone who lived out of state, but had property in the state of Oklahoma, if the property wasn’t owned jointly or left through transfer on death, you will likely need to probate the Oklahoma interest in a Court in the County where the interest is held.
Once the property value is determined, you can use that information to your advantage. Whether you need to inform the Court of the value for a probate, keep records of your home value for financial and estate planning reasons, or get an estimate of what you might get if you sold the property, these options are good places to start.