Selling a family home can be difficult under the best of circumstances. The home you shared with your spouse, in which you raised your children, is filled with all kinds of memories. When it comes to divorce, however, selling the marital home, painful as it is, may be best for everyone. It may be too difficult or expensive for one spouse to keep up the expenses and maintenance of the home alone. Liquidating what is often the largest asset in the marriage makes the division of marital property much easier.
Here are five tips for undertaking the sale of your marital home while you're also in the process of a divorce.
Easier said than done, of course. With a divorce in process, your emotions are no doubt already running high: anxiety about the future, anger at your spouse, grief at the pending loss of your home and the marriage you hoped to have. Unfortunately, those emotions will only hinder you when it comes to achieving the necessary sale of your house. As with many selling homeowners, you may be tempted to price the house at an amount greater than the market will bear because of its value to you. Remember that this is a business transaction, and your objective is to obtain the highest possible price for the house, in the shortest possible time. It's hard to be objective, so you may need the help of someone who is.
You have enough going on in your life with the divorce, your kids, and your job, in addition to being tapped out emotionally. Do not try to save a few dollars by selling your house on your own; the stress simply isn't worth it. Work with a qualified real estate professional who is familiar with your area. He or she will help you understand what to expect and how to price the house for quick sale while still getting the selling price you need. Your real estate agent will guide you through the many decisions that need to be made to get your house sold. Without a professional, you and your spouse may disagree on issues relating to the sale and get mired in your dispute, wasting valuable time and money.
You or your spouse may have a friend or family member who is a real estate agent. Resist the temptation to go with someone with whom either of you has personal connections. You want someone you can trust to be neutral. Interview at least two or three prospects and agree on the one you like best.
Most home buyers insist on an inspection of the home before they're willing to close on it. Many home sales have been scuttled at the last minute by defects the home sellers were unaware of. Though not required, consider having your home pre-inspected by a licensed home inspection professional before you have it listed for sale. An inspection costs a few hundred dollars, but if there are issues identified, the inspection report will help you decide how to allocate your resources in addressing them. It's better to take care of an issue up front before it causes a sale to fall through.
Not only do you want to sell your house, you want to get a good price for it. You may, in fact, be desperate to sell it—but you should take pains not to look desperate. If the home gives the appearance of belonging to a couple that's in the middle of a divorce, shrewd buyers may put in a low bid, reasoning that you'll accept just to get out from under the burden of the house. If your spouse has moved out half the furniture, it's not the end of the world; talk to your real estate agent about having the house “staged” so that it looks uncluttered, not pillaged. While hiring a professional to stage a home for sale costs money, many sellers are astonished at what a difference staging can make in bringing in an offer, or even multiple offers.
There are many costs associated with selling a house, and you should be familiar with all of them so that you understand what you can realistically expect to get, financially speaking, from the sale of your house. A tax professional or attorney with tax experience can advise you if, based on your circumstances, capital gains tax will apply to the sale of your house.
Before you make the myriad decisions that are a part of deciding whether to sell your home in your divorce, you should talk to an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney. Contact Bloch and Whitehouse, P.A. at (952) 224-9977 to schedule a free initial consultation. We can help you decide whether to sell your marital home, and explore your options with you.