6 Considerations before Selling Your Home in Divorce

Splitting up your assets is one of the biggest tasks you face when divorcing. Chances are your home is the largest asset you share with your partner, and determining how to split it may seem overwhelming. As a realtor who has gone through a divorce myself, here are a few things to think about to help make the process as smooth and painless as possible.

Agree on what you will do with your 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 must 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.

Who gets the house in divorce? How do you split the value? Try our Home Equity Buyout Calculator.

Decide if and when to sell

Selling a home can take several months, depending on how much time is needed to make repairs and whether 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 continue with your divorce. If you delay, the financial unknown of what your profit will be could stall your divorce proceedings. Reason: You are unsure of the amount you're dealing with.

You'll also need to decide where to live once the house is on the market. Ideally, your home will be vacant when it's for sale, as that makes it easier to show it to prospective buyers. Will you need time to find a replacement home? Do you want to ask for a rent-back from the buyers? Discuss these decisions with your partner, and share them with your realtor.

Choose a realtor

Find a realtor you both like and 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.

You'll be deciding many aspects of the sale together. It's important to be on the same page. Remember that you ultimately share an important goal: getting the best price for your house. Keep your eye on the prize!

Agree on a list price

Price is often a point of disagreement between the realtor and seller. But now you two, as a couple, must also agree on the list price. Depending on the market you're in, there will be a strategy for pricing your home. In some areas, realtors encourage sellers to list at a low price that prompts bidding. In other areas, realtors advise sellers to list the price as close as possible to the actual price they want to obtain.

To avoid arguments between you and your spouse about the 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 house that goes on the market could use some sprucing up and repairs. You and your spouse must decide how much you're willing to spend preparing your house for sale. Costs to consider include staging, any inspections (home, pest, etc.), repairs, paint, and landscaping. Keep receipts and records of everything you spend, as they will be needed later.

Sell your house

Putting your house up for sale and finding a buyer is only the beginning. Next are the negotiations you might have to do to get into a contract and then close escrow. The buyers might haggle you on price. They may want you to credit them for repairs. Or, they might ask for an extension on the closing date. You and your partner will have to agree on these negotiations and make decisions together. Then, let your realtor do their work.

You may not feel like a team, but you have to act like a team 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 financial relief. You can do it!

Suggested: Common Questions about Divorce and the Marital Home


Real Estate Expert