How To Sell Your Home During a Divorce

Thanks to Karl Kennedy of for contributing this helpful article.

Divorce can be a stressful experience for everyone involved. Lives are drastically changing, almost overnight. You have lawyers to meet, paperwork to sign, and you also have to start dividing the assets.

Your assets may include real estate, especially if the property was purchased during the marriage. Often the hardest decisions surround your primary home. Some divorcing couples wonder whether they can sell their residence before the divorce is final. The answer is yes, and the process isn’t that different from other types of property sales.


Check the Legalities

Sometimes only one partner owns the home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can go straight onto the market. States like California have laws that equally divide the assets between both parties involved in the divorce. You may have to take a few extra steps before you can legally sell the house.

Whether your state has specific laws regarding the division of assets or the home is owned by both divorcing parties, you have a few options.

If one party has the resources, they may want to buy out the other party. Normally, both sides must agree to this. You’ll need a neutral third party to estimate the price. Sometimes both spouses will get a valuation and use the average of the two.

You and your former partner can also agree to sell the home together, splitting the profit. It can be a little less stressful, as long as you can still work together until the closing process is completed.

If the home isn’t the only large asset, you may prefer to choose between wholes rather than selling and dividing the profits. For example, one partner may get the contents of the house like furniture and entertainment components, while the other retains possession of the property. One spouse may keep the vacation home and another the investment property or primary residence.


Get the Property Market Ready

Anytime you put a house on the market you want to get it ready for open house visitors. The difference during a divorce is you may choose not to make any repairs or upgrades. It’s perfectly fine to sell the home as-is. You may get a lower bid, but you avoid putting any extra money into the property.

Don’t forget to clean out the garage, attic, and other areas that often gather clutter. While there are rarely benefits to a divorce, if both partners have moved out of the home there may be a little less clutter to remove.

If one partner is still living in the home, a few decisions need to be made. Will they continue living there until the sale? Who is responsible for paying the mortgage if the home isn’t paid off, along with the insurance and other bills?

You also want to talk about the showings. Who is responsible and will both parties be at the events? It may be easier for both parties to work with a realtor. A real estate agent can handle everything from putting the home on the market to scheduling and attending the viewings. Many real estate agents are specially trained to work with divorcing couples and are both sensitive and pragmatic to the unique issues you’re facing.


Accept the Offer and Divide the Profit

It’s a good idea for former spouses to agree on a selling price and the lowest offer they are willing to accept before putting the house on the market. It will make the selling process go more smoothly.

Sometimes former spouses find it difficult to agree, so trust the advice you are getting from your attorneys and real estate agent. These parties have both of your interests as a priority.

Dividing the proceeds from the sale is typically a matter for your attorneys. The proceeds aren’t always divided up equally, but this is something you should cover before putting the house up for sale.


Talk, Talk, Talk

The key to success is communication. Be sure to talk through your fears, concerns and assumptions with all involved. If possible, put any negative feelings on hold as this is truly a business transaction. Remember that this process is hard on everyone. Regardless of how people may act – or act out – kindness and compassion are the order of the day. Listen to your attorney and real estate agent and allow them to resolve things quickly so you can begin your new life.


If you think a divorce may be in your future or you’d just like some real estate advice, we’re here to help. 

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