Getting divorced is hard and never easy. Selling your home during that process only adds to the difficulty and stress of a collapsed marriage. Unfortunately, for many people selling the family home is the only option due to finances or other reasons. Keeping these do’s and don’ts in mind while selling a home during a divorce can help make the process go more smoothly.
- Do hire a professional Realtor. Don’t sell by owner. Selling by owner is tough in an ideal situation – there are disclosures to complete, processes and laws to be aware of, plus huge decisions to be agreed upon – but doing it while navigating the waters of divorce can add many more items to disagree about. You’re much better off hiring a qualified real estate professional who can be a neutral party and guide you through the transaction. Choose someone without close, personal ties to either individual; someone who will communicate equally with both home owners, as well as with attorneys or mediators. Keep in mind that it is best to hire someone who will understand the emotional baggage that comes with both divorce and selling a home.
- Do treat it as the business transaction that it is. This was your home, where your dreams and your children have grown. I know it may be agonizing to leave your home, and that the crayon marks in the hall are a precious memory for you; but you need to push that aside. Don’t let your emotions take over. Selling your home is, at its core, a business decision. Ideally, you want to get the most for your home in the shortest amount of time. Your home’s value is not determined by your emotional ties to the home but by the current marketplace. During divorce, especially one that’s contentious, emotions are heightened and decision making can be affected by anger and sadness. Work together to prepare the home to be on the market. Remove clutter and paint rooms, if needed. It’s also important to keep up curb appeal by cleaning up the exterior and keeping up on landscaping and lawn maintenance.
- Do have a pricing plan. Don’t try to figure it out along the way! Your Realtor will provide you with advice on the best list price for the home. Once you have decided – or compromised – on the price, work with your agent and attorney/mediator to have a schedule in place for price reductions, should they become necessary. For example, if you are pricing your home at $200,000, determine when you will have price reductions, say every 30 days, and how much – perhaps $10,000 or $5,000. You will also want to agree on the lowest acceptable selling price. These are things that even the most happily married sellers don’t always agree on, and it only grows more difficult if there’s animosity between the sellers. A firm pricing plan will clarify steps and eliminate the need for costly court visits and additional discussions with attorneys/mediators.
- Do understand what selling your home will cost. Don’t be surprised at the closing table! There are a variety of costs associated with selling your home in addition to paying off the mortgage. Expect to pay transfer tax fees, attorney fees, property taxes, and commission to your real estate brokerage. A good agent will prepare a list of closing costs to estimate the proceeds that will be divided between you and your ex-spouse according to the court’s orders.
Selling a home while going through a divorce is not a pleasurable experience. It’s important to remember to do your best to keep emotions out of the equation while attempting to sell your home during a divorce. If you follow the tips above for selling a home during a divorce, you greatly increase the chances that it will be a relatively quick sale while keeping the stress to a minimum.
By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor, Cisco Realty