One of the biggest tasks you face when divorcing is splitting up your assets. Chances are your home is the largest asset you share with your partner, and it may seem overwhelming to determine how to split up this asset. As a realtor who has gone through a divorce myself – considering these very same questions – here are a few things to think about to help make the process as smooth and painless as possible:
Reach an agreement on what will happen to the home
The first thing you need to agree on is what are you going to do with the home you both lived in.
You can either sell your home and split the proceeds, or one partner can buy the other partner out. If one partner buys the other out, they will need to qualify to refinance the home on their own. If one partner gives or sells the home to the other partner, they must make arrangements with the title company to remove the other person from the title.
Decide when to sell the home
Selling a home can take several months, depending on how much time is needed to make repairs and whether or not you can afford to wait for the best season to put your home up for sale. Ideally, if you have decided to sell the home, you will sell it together, split the proceeds fairly, and then proceed with your divorce. If you delay, the unknown of what profit, if any, you are getting out of the house, could stall your divorce proceedings as you are not sure what amount you are dealing with.
You’ll also need to decide where you are going to live once the house is on the market. Ideally your home will be vacant when it’s for sale, as that makes it much easier to show and sell to prospective buyers. Will you need time to find a replacement home? Do you want to ask for a rent-back from the buyers? These are decisions you have to discuss with your partner and share with your realtor.
Choose a realtor you both like
Selling your home is probably going to be last big project you are doing together as a married couple. Selling a home can be stressful for anyone, let alone a couple that is already facing divorce. There are many decisions you need to make together. It’s important that you are on the same page. Remember that ultimately you have the same goal in mind; get the best price for your house. Keep your eye on the prize!
Choosing a realtor is the first decision you have to make together. Find someone you both like and both get along with. It’s important that your realtor truly is neutral and does not seem to prefer one side over the other. Your realtor should treat you like your marriage counselor or your mediator: neutral and fair to both of you.
Agree on a list price
This often is point of disagreement between realtor and seller. But now you two, as a couple, also have to agree on the list price. Depending on the market you are in, there will be a strategy for deciding on the list price of your home. In some areas, realtors will encourage you to list at a low price, to encourage bidding. In other areas, your realtor will advise you to list the price as close as possible to the actual sale price you want to obtain. To avoid any arguments between you and your ex about list price, default to your realtor’s suggestion. Remember: your realtor is an expert!
Agree on how much to invest in the sale
Almost every single house that goes on the market can use some sprucing up and some repairs. You and your ex will need to decide how much you are willing to spend or invest in preparing your house for sale. Costs you need to consider are: staging, any inspections (home, pest, etc.), home repairs, paint, landscaping, etc. Keep receipts and records of everything you spend as it will be needed later.
Negotiate the sale of your house
Putting your house up for sale and finding a buyer is only the beginning. Next come negotiations you might have to do to get into contract and then to close escrow. The buyers might haggle you on price, they may want you to credit them for repairs, they might want an extension on the closing date, and many other things. You and your partner will have to agree on these negotiations and come together on your decisions, then let your realtor do her work. You may not feel like a team, but you have to act like a team and have a united front to make the sale of your home as successful as possible.
If you can successfully sell your house together, it will provide you with big emotional relief and possibly even a financial relief. You can do it!