Going through a divorce is hard enough just from a strictly emotional level. Then you may have kids to think about, as well as assets to be divided. One of your largest assets may be your home. You may have to consider selling your home during a divorce.
In this article we will take a look at some thoughts to consider about your marital home while going through the divorce process. I will also discuss some best practices of selling your home during a divorce.
Your Marital Home and Divorce
What are the Possibilities of Staying in Your Home after a Divorce
The best case scenario is you and your soon to be ex-spouse agree on what to do with the house, either on your own or thru mediation. Most of the time if you can go in front of a judge with your own resolution the judge will usually agree to the terms you propose regarding your marital home.
If you can not agree ahead of time a judge will decide what happens to your marital home. I can tell you if you cannot agree the judges decision will probably not make either of you happy.
Try, try, try to agree ahead of time what is best for both of you and your family. That means compromises will be made by both parties but you can have some control of the outcome.
State Laws Regarding the Division of Property
Every state is different when it comes to the division of property. Do your research and consult an attorney so you have an idea of where the law falls regarding the division of property.
Massachusetts State Law in regards to division of property basically says the judge has the ability to divide property in any manner they see fit as long as it is fair (not necessarily equitable) regardless of who owns it or when it was acquired.
Don’t ever assume you have the upper hand. Say a property was owned prior to a marriage by one party. It may be easy to assume that is separate property. But if your spouse can show they contributed to the house a judge may see it otherwise.
Very rarely will a judge award the property to completely to one party. There will usually be a buyout or offset in other assets. If there are children involved a judge may allow the custodial parent to live there with the children until a certain age when the home will be ordered to be sold or the custodial spouse will have to buy out the other party.
Reasons Why A Judge May Award One Party the Marital Home in a Divorce
- If the retention of the home by one party can be offset with other assets.
- When one spouse wants to retain the home and buyout the other party. You will have to show the courts you have the means to secure a loan, pay off the mortgage and remove the spouses name off the property.
- It could be quite possible there is no equity in the home and one party would like to keep the home and can again provide a solution that does not make the other party liable or completely remove them from the obligation.
- A situation where one party acted so irresponsible and the judge awards the home to one party. It most likely will have to do with loss of marital monies.
- There may be dependent children and and the custodial spouse would like to stay. Usually there will be a plan for a sale or buyout in the future.
These are some possible outcomes but again, a judge can decide in any manner he sees fit.
Can You Even Stay in Your Home After A Divorce
Divorce is emotional and there is a tendency to want to stick it to the other party and “win”. But think about the future. Many homes are bought and maintained with two incomes.
Be realistic about your finances. Can you even afford the home if it is awarded to you? I bring this up because as a Massachusetts Short Sale Real Estate Agent, divorce or the aftermath of a divorce is probably two most common reasons a home owner approaches me for a short sale
Make sure you can abide by all the conditions set forth in your divorce agreement about your marital home, whether it is a buyout, taking over the mortgage, etc… There are serious ramifications for not carrying thru on a court order.
The first step is having a basic understanding of what can happen with a home during the divorce and being realistic about whether you want the home. Please if you have any legal questions consult an attorney, my article is to give you an overview not legal advice.
Selling Your Home During a Divorce
Selling your home during the divorce is usually one of the latter steps. Divorce is hard, but it behooves both parties to act cordially. Decisions need to be made by both parties and the process will be much easier if you can agree and get the job done.
Choosing the Right REALTOR while Selling Your Home During a Divorce
It is vital to hire a real estate agent that is experienced with working with divorced couples. There are two important qualities a real estate agent must have when selling your home during a divorce.
The first is an agent that has empathy regarding the high emotions and tensions during a divorce. They must be able to manage the sale of your home respectfully, as well as manage the tension between two often embittered parties.
Second is you need an agent that is neutral. They need to represent both parties equally and not favor one over another.
It is a good idea to stay away from agents that are friends or family of one party. Each party should pick one or two agents to interview together that is not in any sort of relationship with either party. From there you both need to select an agent.
Agreeing On A List Price
At the end of the day what you list your home for is your decision. Both of you need to agree. This sometimes can be an area of dispute. My recommendation is if you hire the right REALTOR they will give you the information to make the right decision. Overpricing your home will ultimately have dire consequences.
Remember every disagreement can land you back in court for a judge to decide. Going to court costs you time and money. Try to agree on your own it will be cheaper and easier in the long run.
If you can’t agree one solution is each hire an independent appraiser and split the difference. While an appraisal will generally cost $350-400 it is still cheaper than going to court and the judge will probably order one appraisal anyways.
Good Showing Principals Still Apply
Most likely you will want to get the most proceeds out of your marital home as well as sell it as quickly as possible. Come together and get the house prepared properly with a good cleaning, de-cluttering and de-personalization of the home. If you can’t do it together consider hiring people to do so and split the cost.
If you are the party staying in the home, don’t thwart attempts to show the home. Make sure the home is ready for all showings and make sure you are not denying the any showings.
At the end of the day it behooves you to get your home sold for the most money and as quickly as possible.
Won’t Buyer’s Submit Lowball Offers if They Know We are Divorcing?
A house is worth what a house is worth. Period. As long as you give it the proper marketing time and don’t give the impression you are in a rush to sell.
Will you get lowball offers on your home? Maybe, but that can happen on any home. There are always a small percentage of buyer’s that will take advantage of any situation. But most buyers, just want a nice home. Your divorce has no direct bearing on it’s value.
It is important to have a united front in this area. Your real estate agent should be a valuable resource in setting the proper value and presenting its value to potential agents and buyers. Do your part by getting your house prepared and listing it for the right price.
Final Thoughts on Selling Your Home During a Divorce
Don’t assume anything when it comes to divorce settlement. You can do your research and your lawyer can give his opinion, but at the end of the day the judge is going to do what they are going to do. If you let the judge decides what happens to the marital home most likely neither party will be happy.
Divorces are expensive enough with lawyers and court fees. You are far better trying to come to an agreement and present you proposal regarding the marital home to the judge. Every time you and your spouse come to an impasse, it will mean letting the judge decide your fate which also means increase your costs.
It behooves you and your soon to be ex to come to agreement and get your home sold for quickly for as much money as you can. Letting the home linger unsold could mean your responsible for bills you can’t afford. You could also be tapping into the equity you may have in the home.
A good listing agent can certainly be a valuable resource in walking you through the process and getting the job done.
- Xavier De Buck Why Your Empty Home Won’t Sell Easily
- Teresa Cowart How to Sell Your Home for Top Dollar
- Kyle Hiscock How to Handle The Sale of Your Home During a Breakup
This article about Selling Your Home During Divorce is written by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate. Need help buying or selling a home? Give me a call at 978-360-0422 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Real Estate Services in the following areas: Northeast Massachusetts, Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Metrowest. Including the following communities and the surrounding area- Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Dracut, Groveland, Haverhill, Lowell, Melrose, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Wakefield, Wilmington, Westford