We all know that divorce is an action of last resort to a failed relationship. It is painful and can be emotionally challenging. There is no one size fits all solution for any couple and yet if the house needs to be sold there are sure fire ways to make the debates and arguments less horrendous and allow everyone to keep their sanity.
If you’re going through a difficult divorce and trying to figure out what to do about the family house, it’s better to get a head start on that now. If you and your spouse couldn’t agree on things during the marriage, it makes it that much more difficult to decide how to sell the largest asset that you have. It astonishes me to watch couples think that because they are moving on that the very issues that were bones of contention during the marriage will somehow be easier to resolve now. That just isn’t realistic.
In my travels I have talked to hundreds of couples that just wanted it over. Between the family court and a division of the other assets, the house seems to cause the most consternation. I salute the couples that have made it through the process. If you are interested in saving your sanity and gain some insight then keep reading this blog post and I’ll give you my best suggestions about selling your house during a divorce in Stockton…
Possession of the House
More and more, attorneys are recommending to couples that neither party move out of the house and relinquish possession to the other unless there are agreements in place. Some couples decide early on that one will retain the residency as part of the settlement or that one of the party’s will buy the other out. But without such agreements in place and approved by the court, the attorneys say there are very practical reasons that neither party should just vacate. First, there are the financial reasons.
At some point there is going to be a division of the assets and when one party moves out the expenses of the family will almost certainly increase if not double. Common sense tells us that it is much more costly to support two households than one. Almost every household expense is automatically doubled all the way down to gas and electric bill.
Second, there are other issues such as maintenance of the house, children and the general well being of the family. In relationships where the couples can remain civil, all of the lawyers that I have talked to recommended that neither party vacate until those agreements are in place. It insures mortgages and other payments are made as well. If divorce is looked at practically, there is no reason a couple should unnecessarily deplete more of its assets right before there is a division of the assets.
The attorney’s warn however that every couple is different, with a variety of circumstances and where abuse is present it may be best to have separate living spaces. No one should have to experience a real life “War of the Roses” .
One Spouse Buying Out the Other
Some couples have the assets whereby one can purchase the house or buy out the other. Where this is practical, the remaining spouse makes an offer based on the present value of the house. That should be relatively easy to determine with the help of a professional appraiser. When making an offer to purchase a house from a spouse, let the third parties do what they need to do and you can negotiate the sale of the house with contingencies just as you would in negotiating the purchase of any house.
The Sale to the spouse can be contingent upon securing financing or certain repairs are made by one or split between the parties. Sometimes it just makes more sense to offer Fair Market Value minis some repairs and just be done with that division of the asset. There are just so many ways to do that.
We do not recommend that couples refinance the house together so that one spouse can cash out. We have seen couples do some crazy things in the past and do not let one spouse or the other talk you into refinancing the house together so that they can buy you out. In doing so both parties would remain financially liable for the life of the loan as well as separately. So if the remaining spouse stopped making payments the other would still be on the hook until the mortgage was paid in full.
The Decision to Just Sell the House
The Stipulation and Order to Sell the House During a Divorce
Possibly the easiest way to sell the house during a divorce is with a written and signed agreement between the spouses that then becomes a court order. It is important that both parties have good representation. Speak to your attorney about the special needs that you have and consider the following:
- Will the Will you need to hire a real estate agent for both of you? Or will one spouse provide the other with a list to choose from or will there be another way to choose one?
- How will the price be established? Will a Comparative Market Analysis be sufficient or will there be an appraisal. Who will pay for the appraisal?
- Is there an agreed dollar amount or offer that will be accepted?
- Who gets to negotiate the offers? One or Both?
- How will the price be reduced, if offers dont come in and there needs to be a price reduction?
- Will one spouse be the lead in all communications with the real estate agent or will every discussion and decision have to go through both spouses?
- Which spouse will make sure that the home is ready for showings? Will the home be shown even if neither spouse is present?
- Other than the mortgage, is there anything else that needs to be paid from the sale?
- What will happen to the money from the sale? How will it be disbursed?
- Are there reimbursement by either spouse?
These are just some of the provisions to consider.
The Condition of the House
The first thing that needs to be decided is about the house itself. Real estate is NOT a one size fits all business. Every house is different regardless of how many similarities they share. Bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms makeup the house but their value is derived by 4 other things such as LOCATION, AGE, CONDITION and PRICE. You need to decide 3 things;
- Whats the condition of my house? Minor or major Repairs?
- Do we have the money to fix and update the house?
If the condition of the house is better than average and you determine that the house can pass multiple inspections with very little cost to you as the seller then you have 2 Options:
- Hire a real estate agent and slap a sign in the front yard
- Sell it As-Is to a Real Estate Investor for Cash
Here’s How To Split The Real Estate Asset
The best way to split the real estate asset is to sell it:
The property itself might have some expenses incurred during the sales process, or there might be outstanding bills, or there might still be a partial outstanding mortgage on the property. So the two divorcing parties should probably just sell the property and direct their attorneys to apply the money earned from the equity to any outstanding debts.
The remaining amount can then be split between each party, with each party getting an agreed-upon percentage (such as 50/50).
But this begs the question — how do you sell the property?
The Fastest Way To Sell A Divorce House
When it comes time to sell, most people think of selling through a real estate agent. Unfortunately there’s a few problems with this:
- the agent will make the owners pay out-of-pocket to fix up the property first — but who pays for that?
- the agent will then list the house, which can take 3-6 months to sell (sometimes longer) — can either party wait that long?
- the agent will then involve both parties in the negotiation with the buyer and there is A LOT of paperwork to shuffle back and forth
This is a costly and time-consuming way to sell, and it can actually make the divorce proceedings so much worse.
Fortunately, there’s another way to sell and that’s to sell your house to a real estate buying firm (which is what we do Westbrook Real Estate Investments). The real estate buying firm will buy your house quickly, for cash, in as-is condition (and as a bonus, there are never any commissions or fees to pay). You don’t have to clean up or fix up the property and the sale can be completed in days, not months, with very little paperwork.
If you’re going through divorce and want to just be done with it and move on with your life, just reach out to us and tell us about the house you want to sell. We specialize in buying divorce houses and we can help you expedite your divorce by buying this house from you.
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