Divorce and Selling Your Home

Divorce and Selling Your Home

Getting a divorce is difficult enough let alone dealing with the stress of selling your home.   

If you are getting a divorce, you are undoubtedly going to experience extreme emotions and it’s compounded by having to sell your home.  Your brain and your heart are not communicating in tandem.  You need to make rational decisions and detach yourself from those emotions.   I know its hard to do but this now becomes a business venture, and you will need to be fair with each other.  You need to shift gears and start thinking logically and not let your emotions get in your way. 

Your home is most likely the biggest investment in both your portfolio’s.  Do not let it become a source of revenge, it will only hurt you in the long run.  There are many costs associated with a divorce that you may not see immediately.  Apart from the obvious lawyer’s fee’s each person now needs to separate one current expense into two.  Depending on your financial income situation this can be a burden on one more than the other or both of you at the same time.

Here are some tips I have learned dealing with clients who have gone thru a divorce:

1  Take care of YOU first, both physically and emotionally.

You will be experiencing a lot of emotions that can derail your physical well being.  You will need your strength to get though this.   Set up a daily physical exercise routine to help you with your emotional roller coaster ride.  You may feel anger, regret, even hatred, and it can consume you into depression and not being able to think straight.   You will most likely go thru a grieving process and even become lethargic.  Now is not the time to sit idle.  You will need your strength going forward keeping your mind and your body fit will set you up to handle the stress it will go thru. 

2 Change your mindset as to what your home has now become.  

Your home is no longer going to be the sanctuary you once thought it was.   It is now a house not a home and it needs to be taken care of right away.  It has now transformed from a personal asset to a business asset.  If you have a mortgage on the house, you need to get your name off that debt as soon as possible. 

Most likely you need to sell the property, unless you can afford and have agreed to refinance it in your name it is wise to make sure you are off the mortgage.   This is not the same as signing off on the title.   A title states who are the owners of the property.  A mortgage states who are the owners of the debt.  Two separate things that need to be addressed in the divorce settlement.  Some people think since they signed off on the title, they no longer own the property therefore they no longer need to pay for the mortgage.  Not true, they still own the mortgage debt if you are not legally taken off.   This can be done before you sell or at time of accepting an offer.

Adding to this situation, discuss with the spouse that is moving out of the house to sign off on their homestead rights to the home.  It is easier to sell a home without homestead rights instead of having the other still lingering around at offer time.  Too many sales have been held up because the spouse who needs to sign off sabotages the sale by being spiteful.   This is something to discuss prior to putting your home up for sale and with your lawyers to see what is best for your situation.

3 Do not sabotage the equity in your home.

I have seen many divorces where one spouse is so angry, they do not want to settle to satisfy their power to control.  Irrational behavior leads to using the house sale as a means to get even.  Remember a house is now an asset not your home in a divorce.  A house is probably the biggest asset for both parties and sabotaging a sale will hurt both of you.

Make sure you house always shows well during the sale process.   Buyer will get turned off if they enter a property that is left purposely dirty or even trashed with garbage lying around.  The net proceeds of the sale are usually 50/50 and having a house not show well hurts both of your bottom lines.   It will cost you time and money when it sits on the market, and you receive a low-ball offer.  Buyers are like vultures when they find out you are in a difficult situation, they will use it to their advantage to offer you less.  Don’t do it!

4. Taking everything that belongs to you out of the house.

If you have already agreed upon a settlement and what is yours and what belongs to your spouse, and you are the one moving out, take it out when you leave.   Especially if you no longer have access to the keys and have been taken off the title and relinquished your homestead rights.   Its easier to sell a home when there is only one person selling it.   There have been situations where a spouse leaves their stuff in the home for staging purposes and then finds out when they come to get their belongings that the locks have been changed and you no longer have access to them.  Move out and move on.

5. Copy and scan important papers that you will need once a house is sold.  

Important papers include tax returns, bank statements, homestead rights relinquish forms, property taxes, utility bills, and anything else associated with expense of running house.  Anything that shows you are no longer on the hook for any outstanding debts.  Make copies and take it with you.

6 Hire a REALTOR® who has experience selling divorce properties and is impartial to both parties.

In some rare cases you will see two REALTORS® on a listing.  When buyers see two for sale signs on a property this is a sure indication that the property is being sold by two parties that do not trust each other and want independent representation when selling.   Interview more than one REALTOR® and choose one that both parties feel comfortable with.  It is far less complicated than having two REALTORS® doing the same work as one.  Two is not always better than one!

If a divorce is in your future and wish to discuss your situation with me, I would be more than happy to give you my advice on how to proceed.   I am here to help you! 

Tony Rinella (B.A. Urban Studies 1981)

Ethos Realty