Home Sale During Divorce: Top Tips for Selling a House During Divorce
What should you know if you need to sell your home because of divorce?
1. Name on Title Isn't Everything. Just because only one spouse is named on the title, it does not mean that the other spouse does not have equal rights to the property. People put a property in only one person's name for many reasons. A major reason why only one spouse is named on the title is that one spouse may have poor credit and could not qualify for the mortgage. The short answer is that you will want to consult with an attorney before deciding that only one spouse "gets" the home simply because their name is on the title. Even if a property was purchased prior to marriage, it does not mean that the other spouse may not have a claim to equity in the property.
2. Agreement is Key. You may be thinking, my ex and I can't agree on anything, how are we going to agree on who gets the house? Even if you cannot agree on the big question of who gets the house or whether the house should be sold, you can, and should, decide a few key questions:
Who will pay the mortgage?Divorce is a leading cause of bankruptcy and it is common for a spouse to stop making payments on a mortgage out of spite or because he/she is not living in the home. However, failure to make mortgage payments can significantly damage credit and lead to bankruptcy or foreclosure.
How much equity do you have?Talk to a qualified real estate agent and get an idea of what your house could sell for. Even if you do not plan on selling your home, knowing how much your home would likely sell for and how much is owing on your home will help you in deciding how to divide your assets. If you and your spouse can reach an agreement as to how much equity your house has this is one less issue you need an attorney's help to decide.
Who should list our house?If you and your spouse can decide that selling is the best option, agreeing on which real estate agent to use can make the process go much more quickly and reduce unnecessary stress that comes from conflicts that arise during the selling process.
3. Get Good Help
If you're going through a divorce, you already know how important it is to get a good attorney. Getting a good real estate agent is equally as important. Why pay attorneys to battle over details of your home sale, when a qualified real estate agent can help? A real estate agent who has experience in helping clients going through a divorce can help you and your spouse reach agreements about key issues before you list your home. These agreements can anticipate issues that may arise during the sale process that would otherwise lead to additional stress, conflict, and attorney's fees.
Here are some key questions to ask real estate agents you are considering hiring to sell your home:
- What experience do you have selling homes when the sellers are going through a divorce? How did the process differ from selling other homes?
- What specifically can you do as my real estate agent to help alleviate the stress, difficulty, and cost of selling my home while going through a divorce?
Finally, experience matters. You may find someone who will sell your home for less, but experience is worth it.