The American marriage rate has declined in recent years. But half of all adults over 18 are married. Divorce rates among the senior set have increased.
When people age 50 and older divorce, there are more assets to split. That usually includes at least one home.
If you’re divorcing, one of your biggest assets is your home. If you need to sell your home in a divorce sale, there are a few things you should know.
Buying Out Your Spouse
It’s not often that both spouses agree on how things should be divided. Who gets what is often a big bone of contention when it comes to divorce.
But the first thing to look at is whether one of you wants to stay in the house. In this case, the remaining spouse buys the other spouse’s half of the home.
In most cases, both parties choose to sell. But where do you start?
Find a Good Agent
Start with an agent. It’s tempting to sell the house yourself to save on agent’s fees, but not a good idea during a divorce.
Selling a house is stressful. There’s a lot involved when it comes to marketing and other paperwork.
Are you having trouble agreeing on an agent? See if the agent who helped you buy the house is available. You agreed on the agent then so it’s a logical choice now.
If your former agent isn’t available, ask a third party you both agree on to choose the agent for you.
Let the Agent Assign the Asking Price
An agent doesn’t assign a selling price arbitrarily. The agent looks at comparable houses (comps) selling within the last six months. The homes are in a small geographic location near your home.
The agent prices the home to sell as quickly as possible at the highest price. It’s not always the price you think your home is worth. But the agent does his homework.
If you’re unhappy with the price, ask for a second opinion from an agent in a different office. Or, you could pay for an appraisal. An appraisal will cost several hundred dollars.
Getting the House Sold Quickly
During or right after a divorce, the faster the house sells the better. There are several things you can do to get your house sold quickly.
Buyers get their first impression as soon as they park the car. Some buyers won’t even look inside a house if it doesn’t have great curb appeal.
Make sure the lawn is mowed and the shrubs are trimmed.
If you have a front porch, make sure it’s well kept and clean. A fresh coat of paint on the porch rails makes everything look clean.
How’s the front door look? If it’s grubby, give it a quick refresh with a new coat of paint or stain.
Pressure wash the driveway, front walk, and house. Clean the screens and windows.
Pressure washing is usually enough to refresh the exterior. But if you have rotting wood or other issues, you may need some repairs and a fresh coat of exterior paint.
If the interior paint is old, a new paint job makes everything look and smell clean and new.
Declutter and depersonalize
If you’re divorcing, you’re probably already clearing a lot of things out of the home. But decluttering and depersonalizing are musts if you want your home to sell fast.
Take down all personal photos as well as any political and religious items. You want people to picture themselves in your home. It’s easier to do when everything is neutral.
Stage the House
On top of getting everything spic and span and decluttered, stage the house for a quick sale. Remove unnecessary furniture and put it in storage or sell it.
Make the rooms as bright and airy as possible.
Put the highest wattage bulb possible in all the light fixtures. Make sure the windows are squeaky clean. Open all curtains and blinds.
Stage your dining room table with nice place settings. Don’t go crazy, but a setting for two or four with your nice china works well.
Fresh-cut flowers around the house also make a great impression.
Fixing, painting, cleaning, and decluttering is a difficult process. If you’re going through a divorce, it may seem impossible. But for the good of you both, try and make this as argument-free as possible.
Remember to keep the end game in mind. Do your best so you both make more money in the end.
Figure out how the repairs and cleaning will get done and who will pay. Maybe one of you can do most of the work so the other can pay more.
If you’re having trouble working this out, ask a third trusted party to help you work through the issues.
Accepting or Rejecting Offers
When it comes to accepting or rejecting any offers, you’ll need to agree.
This may be a contentious time for you both. But decide ahead what type of offers you’ll take. What’s the lowest offer you’ll accept?
Agree on this before the house gets listed and you’ll avoid arguments later.
Once the home is sold, you’ll have to pay off the mortgage, second mortgage, and any equity lines of credit that are outstanding.
After any debts against the house are paid, then you’ll split the proceeds. It’s best to handle this part of the transaction through your divorce lawyers.
Making the Divorce Sale a Quick Sale
The most important thing with a divorce sale is making it as quick and painless as possible.
Find an agent you can both agree on. Let your agent guide you in pricing the home. Clean up the landscape and the front entrance to the house for a good first impression.
If possible, give the interior a fresh coat of paint.
Finally, declutter, depersonalize, and stage the home. Then wait for your offers to come in!
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