Selling Home in a Divorce

Divorce is a difficult decision and an even more difficult process. If you need to sell your home or are being forced to sell your home by the courts, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Working Together

Probably the most difficult thing to do while upset is working together with the person you are upset with, all while remaining calm. This is especially the case when selling a home you want to keep because you thought you and your children would live in the home for years to come. But here is the deal, whether the home needs to be sold due to financial issues or you’ve been ordered to split the property, nothing is going to change that situation. Staying angry, sabotaging the sale or arguing will only prolong the inevitable and make you miserable. The typical point of a divorce is moving on from being miserable, so working together to get to the next step, even if it is not the step you wanted, is best.

What if you can’t work together? Setting some ground rules for who is responsible for what during the transaction could help. Whomever is living in the home currently could be responsible for scheduling showings with the Realtor, while the other person could be responsible for scheduling any repairs that need to be done.  A Realtor that has been through divorce themselves could help mediate, but should never be put in the middle and blamed for issues that arise.

Choosing an Agent and Sale Price

Choosing an agent to sell your home in a divorce scenario is similar to any other time, but you will need to explain what is going on with the divorce and communication status. There are some Realtors who will not list a home if a divorcing couple is involved simply because they have been put in the middle before and refuse to choose sides. This usually comes into play when setting a sales price and accepting potential offers. If one party doesn’t want to sell the house they will often insist on an inflated sales price or refuse to accept reasonable offers. This not only prolongs the sale, it can cause financial issues between all parties.

As in any real estate transaction, the market will determine the sales price. Going over the comps with your agent and responding to changes in the market are still mandatory. Being open to a realistic sales price is important, even if you need more money to move on. Every agent would love to get you more money, but buyers are not willing to pay more than a house is worth simply because you need it.

Splitting the Proceeds

Whether cooperating in the sale or being forced by the courts to sell, you will need to know how the profits from the sale will be split. Closing companies can tell horror stories about couples arguing over pennies at the closing table. It is better to have something in writing prior to closing so everyone is on the same page.

The big thing to remember is that the sale will only benefit both parties if it is handled quickly. The more time that is wasted and the more legal fees mount to stop the sale of the home, the less profit there will be left. As a Realtor I have seen lots of couples end up with nothing at the end of the sale due to legal bills. Had they just agreed to sell the house they could have each had $50,000 to move on, but because one party didn’t want to sell they continually filed in court to try to stop the sale. When that failed and they had no choice, all the money they earned from the sale went to their attorney.