A divorce is a difficult time for all parties involved. There are many tasks to complete and emotions can be wildly intense. It can be difficult to get through the sale of a house for any couple, and it can be even more difficult for people who would rather not speak to each other. There are some key points that sellers should address when creating a plan to list their home for sale during a divorce.
Decide if Selling is Right
A divorce will require a division of assets, and the house is typically the largest asset in the marriage. Sometimes one spouse will want to continue to reside in the home, in which case they will need to "buy out" the other party. The vacating spouse is entitled to their half of the value of the home, so the residing spouse must provide a cash pay out to acquire full ownership of the home. If the full payout can not be met, the house will have to be sold and proceeds divided. The market value and the mortgage balance can play into this situation. It's best to council with a professional to determine what options you may have.
Finding an Agent
People often select agents based on recommendations of family and friends. Each of the sellers must feel confident that the agent has their best interest as the primary objective. Many sellers don't want their personal situation complexities to be shared with an agent who has any affiliation to family or friends. Confidentiality is of utmost importance in all real estate transactions, especially in those with the added stress and legal complications of divorce. First, decide if you are comfortable with hiring somebody in your circle. Then follow the guidelines that I've outlined in my Seller Series to qualify an agent to sell your home.
Your agent must be able to get the home sold, and do it under potentially tense circumstances. Make sure you hire a professional that will get the job done, and also have the sensitivity and insight to manage and reduce needless transaction drama along the way. People at the end of a marriage don't need any extra reasons to argue and stress.
Define Responsibilities and Expectations
Selling a house requires some preparation and some additional maintenance throughout the process. As difficult as it may be, it's best to outline these details with your spouse and create a plan. Identify necessary home repairs, upgrades, and cleaning projects. Do your best to decide either who will do it or who will arrange to have it done, and by when. Set a budget for your preparation tasks and stick to it. Decide if you will have one point person keep contact with the agent, or if both parties want equal communication throughout the process. Set up a schedule to touch base with each other for future discussion topics or updates. Discuss the details regarding how to handle showings, especially when there are pets and/or children involved. Work with your agent on a pricing and negotiation strategy that both parties will find acceptable. People can dramatically reduce and even eliminate disagreements along the way when expectations and responsibilities are clearly defined from the start.
Selling a home can be complicated, and divorce tends to add additional stress. For more information on selling a house, please refer to my Seller Series articles. They are designed to be a thorough guide taking you from Where to Start, Sale Preparation, how to Determine Value, Showings, Appraisal & Inspection, to Closing.