I know this can be tricky. Do you sell it before you seek a divorce? Do you work with a Divorce Attorney to settle the distribution of funds? There are always differences of opinions when speaking with friends and family or even your Real Estate Agent. It’s always best to consult an attorney before making any major decisions.
If neither spouse wants to stay in the family home, or if neither can afford to buy out the other, you can put the property on the market and try to get the best possible price for it. Keep in mind that before the sales proceeds can be divided, you’ll have to pay off the mortgage, any equity line or second mortgage, and the brokers’ fees. You’ll also have to pay any capital gains tax that might apply. These expenses are one disadvantage of selling, especially if market conditions aren’t good for sellers. Another disadvantage is the need to uproot the kids when they’re already adjusting to a lot of change.
But there are advantages, too. Both spouses get money to start over, and it may help you make a clean break.
Once you’ve decided to sell, you’ll be faced with a lengthy and detailed process that involves a number of projects. Each of these projects takes hard work in the best of times, and the emotional upheaval that comes with divorce doesn’t make them any easier.
Picking an Agent
Given the proliferation of services that help home buyers and sellers complete their own transactions, you may have considered whether you should go it yourself instead of working with an agent. However, there is no substitute for an experienced professional, and taking on all the responsibility yourself could be costlier than an agent’s commission in the long run.
According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, only 8% of home sales were accomplished as for sale by owner (FSBO), and of those, 77% knew their buyer personally. FSBO home sales had a median price of $200,000 in 2019, compared to the agent assisted home sale median price of $280,000.
Beyond the price advantage of using an agent, homes listed by real estate professionals get more exposure and their sellers get more support. Here are some other considerations:
- They’re trained and licensed professionals.
- They have experience in your neighborhood and your market.
- They have oversight from brokers and state licensing offi cials.
- Their job is to advise you on the best way to reach your goals.
- They know how to present your home and deal with buyers.
- They know how and where to market properties effectively.
- They know how to overcome typical snags that occur in real estate transactions and closings.
- They understand state-required disclosures and look out for your best interests.
- They understand personal safety and security for your belongings during showings.
- They know the best resources to make transactions go more smoothly, from bankers to home-stagers to contractors.
- They have access to the most accurate and comprehensive data – the MLS, the only data repository that has the most up-to-date listing and sales information.
- They know how to negotiate.
- Their job is making real estate transactions successful.
- Their continuing education keeps them up-to-date on housing issues.
With a real estate professional in your corner, you’ll have a partner by your side to advocate for you and advise you through the entire home sale process.
While in general, it’s fine to sell a house without an agent, it’s not recommended when you’re in the middle of a divorce—the added stress is really not necessary. Try not to spend a lot of time arguing about who your agent will be.
Settling on an Asking Price
Take the agent’s advice about your asking price—that’s one of the main reasons you’re using an expert instead of selling the house yourself. Turning that decision over to the agent will eliminate one potential conflict. If you think the agent’s opinion is really off-base, you might need a different agent (or a reality check of your own). The current supply (or inventory) of homes for sale, buyer demand, interest rates & availability of financing, prices of recently sold properties, economic factors and seasonal demand.
Preparing to Show the House
Your home’s condition is very important. If repairs can’t be made – a price adjustment will have to be made. Getting the house ready can be the most difficult part of the sale process. There’s often some work that needs to be done—minor repairs, painting, and the like—before the house is ready to be shown, so you need to agree on where the money for that will come from. If both of you have moved out by the time you put the house on the market, you can leave the place to be staged by the agent. When you work with us we want your home to be shown in the best possible light to prospective buyers to get you top dollar in the shortest amount of time. We will create a warm and inviting environment focusing on the best architectural features and selling points of your home.
If one of you is still living there, you’ll need to get things cleaned up, get the clutter out of the way, and probably remove some of the furniture. If this work falls mostly on one person, you might need to figure out a way to compensate that person for the extra effort.
You’ll have to work together when it comes time to review offers from potential buyers, especially if you live in a place where the real estate market is volatile. Your agent can advise you, of course, but ultimately you’ll have to make the decision jointly.
Dividing the Cash
Finally, you’ll have to figure out how to divide the proceeds. In general, that shouldn’t be too complex—the escrow company can distribute the money, after paying off all the obligations on the house and making whatever other payments you’ve agreed to. Again, it’s best to consult an attorney before proceeding!