Selling your home during a divorce can be an extremely emotional process. Perhaps it’s where your children grew up or the place you spent 10 years or more of your life. For such reasons, you may want to hold onto it despite no longer having the necessary resources to do so. The only solution is to sell. Although you and your ex have decided this is the best decision for both parties, it can still be challenging—especially if the dissolution is contentious. To ensure the home sale runs swiftly and efficiently, DivorceForce has provided several best practices to keep in mind.
Although your mind will be focused on selling the marital home, it’s important to protect yourself both financially and mentally. Dealing with a home sale can be stressful and exhausting, especially when the house holds familial memories. Practice self-care and ensure you’re in the optimal headspace to move forward.
It’s also important to take measures to safeguard your finances. Even if the relationship was contentious or your ex cheated on you, don’t take it out on the home. Some spouses damage parts of the house or stop cleaning to sabotage sales, leading to evictions and additional fees. Do your own investigation and research when it comes to the home, too. Ensure you know who is on the deed, if there are any judgements or liens against the property, and the balance on the mortgage.
Work With Your Ex
To ensure a quick and painless sale, it’s crucial you and your ex get along. Contention and sabotage attempts often lead to long, drawn-out sales with countless fights, proving a costly and time-consuming process. However, if both partners enter negotiations with open minds, vowing to compromise and work together, the sale will move forward expeditiously. Several topics you’ll need to settle with your spouse include the home’s sale price and an acceptable offer.
Prepare the Home
To prepare your home for sale, you’ll want to have a discussion with your spouse about required repairs and who will pay for these. Additional issues demanding to be addressed include determining who will pay the mortgage and bills, who will continue to live in the home, and whether one spouse should be present during showings, advises a useful article published by Washington-based family law practice McKinley Irvin Family Law. Once these issues are resolved, enlist a professional to make any repairs or necessary updates. If your budget allows, hire a professional stager to beautify your home and facilitate the sale.
Time the Sale Correctly
According to an article titled “What Happens to a House in a Divorce” by online real estate market Zillow, the best time to sell your home is:
- During a sellers’ market “to maximize profit and speed up the sale”
- In the spring if you don’t have children and the summer if you do
- Before going to court, so a judge doesn’t make the decision for you
- Before your tax exclusion runs out
- Before your divorce, to put the proceeds toward a new living situation and hire attorneys
Tax implications may also factor into the optimal sale time.
Understand Tax Implications
Although implications may vary by state, the most important issue is capital gains taxes, which are “federal taxes paid on the profits you make when you sell your house (assuming your house value has appreciated),” according to the aforementioned Zillow post. When selling your primary residence, you can write off most of the profits with a home sale exclusion. If you’ve both lived in the home for at least two out of the last five years, you won’t have to pay taxes on up to $250,000 of the proceeds you make from selling the home if filed separately, or $500,000 if filed jointly. Zillow’s article explains it can be “beneficial to wait on finalizing your divorce until you’ve closed the sale and filed your taxes jointly”—ensuring you get full tax exemption. When selling after a divorce, each partner can claim the full $250,000 exclusion.
Hire a Realtor Divorce Specialist
Professional real estate agents specializing in divorce are more likely to have experience selling homes for divorced couples, meaning they understand the legal aspects of selling, such as the impact of marital status on the title, and tax implications. They also have the expertise to settle arguments and handle the situation with discretion.
For more information about a realtor divorce specialist, check out our blog “What Is a Realtor Divorce Specialist & Why Should You Hire One?”
Consider an Investor Purchase
Although you may want to sell your home to a new couple or established family, it can take weeks or even months to find the right buyer. If you’re in a hurry to cut ties with your ex and obtain the proceeds from the home, consider an investor purchase. Real estate investors can take the home off your hands for a reduced price, explains “Selling Your House During Divorce: A Comprehensive Guide” published by Divorce Magazine.
Pay Off Mortgage & Split Proceeds
While focused on selling the marital home, a few monthly duties may slip through the cracks. Continue to make mortgage payments on the home during the sale. You should have already agreed on which spouse will make the payments and which will receive a portion of the principal after closing. Once you’ve finalized the sale, settle the expenses—including the mortgage, equity lines of credit, liens for unpaid property taxes, or agent fees and closing costs—before you split the proceeds.
Gregory C. Frank is the CEO and Founder of DivorceForce.