Divorce can be a painful process, and the logistics involved don’t help. From dividing up your assets to hashing out a custody agreement if you have kids, there are many issues to work through on the road to living separate lives. Unfortunately, things can become especially complicated if you and your spouse own property together. While selling your home may be in the best interest of you both, there’s no shortage of potential obstacles that could pop up along the way.
If you’re putting your property on the market during a divorce, here’s what you should know to navigate the process smoothly…
Without a doubt, it’s always best for both parties to agree on what they should do with the home they share. If an agreement can’t be reached, the courts may step in and order that your property be put on the market. In my experience, this isn’t a perfect solution.
Another important consideration is who will live in your home until it’s sold. You’ll probably both have the legal right to possess it during this time, thanks to a concept known as the “matrimonial home.” In family law, this is any place that you and your spouse occupied together as your family home up until your separation. It could be a house in the suburbs, a cabin in the woods, or even a houseboat on the water—and it doesn’t matter if one or both of you own it.
If a living space meets the criteria of your matrimonial home, both you and your former partner have rights associated with it. One of the biggest is that you can continue living in it while you’re getting ready to sell. There are some exceptions—such as in cases of spousal abuse—where the courts will grant exclusive possession to one person. In these rare situations, one party can evict the other.
You should also know that you can’t sell or mortgage your matrimonial home without permission from your former partner, and vice versa. The law is meant to protect you both, so the most important thing is to know your rights—and work together towards a smooth resolution whenever possible!
Working with an Agent
One of the most frequently asked questions when a divorcing couple puts a home on the market is whether to use one agent or two. In almost all cases, the answer is one.
During your divorce, you and your spouse will likely have your own lawyers. This is common practice because it helps ensure that your separate legal interests are represented. When it comes to real estate, this simply isn’t an issue. You want to get the best price possible. You probably also want to sell your home as quickly as you can. These are goals that you, your spouse, and the real estate professional you’re working with all share!
Having one agent will ensure that the process is smooth—and that both parties are on the same page. The result will almost always be a more successful outcome. It’s important to remember that your agent has no say in how your money is divided once you’ve sold your home. As real estate professionals, there’s absolutely no motivation for us to favour one spouse over the other.
If you’re selling your home during a divorce, there are a few things to look for in an agent. First and foremost, you’ll want someone with the skills to achieve a great selling outcome. Beyond that, it may be helpful to work with a professional who’s empathetic—since you’ll be working through a potentially painful situation—and skilled in the basics of conflict-resolution. From my perspective, remaining neutral is always priority number one in these situations.
Decisions That Need to be Made
In most cases, the key to a successful selling outcome is working together as much as possible. Putting a home on the market can be complicated, and agreeing on the basics can go a long way towards simplifying the process!
At every step, there are decisions you’ll need to make. How should you prepare your home before selling, and what should your budget be for doing so? What price should you set for your property? Once an offer rolls in, you’ll also have to decide whether to accept it, negotiate, or hold out for something better.
In all matters related to your home sale, your opinion is important (and so is your spouse’s). Having said that, there’s no substitute for market knowledge and experience. The right agent will help ensure that every decision you make brings you one step closer to your selling goals—and the fresh start you’re ready for.
Going through a divorce or separation? Ready to sell your home? Reach out to learn how I can help you navigate the process for a successful outcome!