Tips For Selling Your Home in Divorce

by | Oct 30, 2018

Considering everything you’re thinking, feeling, and dealing with when it comes to divorce, one of the last things you want to think about is selling your house.

Selling a house can be a stressful thing to do even when you’re not getting divorced. But when you are, it can be even more stressful. With this page, it is my goal to provide you with all of the information you will need to make selling your home as smooth of a process as possible.

First off, I want you to know that you’re not alone. While there are many reasons people sell a house, divorce is certainly a common one. And because of that, I see the most common issues time and time again. I even saw my own parents go through divorce after I had grown up and left the house.

I wrote this page to help you understand some common issues you should expect while selling your house during divorce and how we will deal with them. While this is not legal, marital, or financial advice, hopefully this guide will help you protect yourself from losing time, money, and your sanity while selling your house.

With that said, this guide might not cover every question or concern you might have. So, if you have a thought or a question you’d like a real estate agent’s perspective on, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I’m glad to help.

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Often, one person is more motivated to get the house sold than the other in a divorce. Someone wants to just get it sold as quickly as possible and move on, while oftentimes the other is in no rush at all to get the house sold.

No, this doesn’t apply to every couple…Sometimes, though, it’s so subtle you don’t even realize that it is an issue…until it’s too late. There are so many reasons why one of you might be more motivated than the other—too many scenarios to possibly cover.

Neither of you is “right” or “wrong” to feel the way you feel. There’s surely a lot of history that led to how you feel and why you want what you want, when you want it. You have the right to feel how you feel.

But there is a “right” perspective to have when it comes to selling the house.

Both of you need to work together to get this done. It doesn’t work well if one is getting in the way. As you’ll see, it’s crucial to sell as quickly as possible, but at the same time, not “at all costs.”

For now, just give some thought as to which one of you is more motivated.

  • Is it you?
  • Is it him/her?
  • What makes you feel the way you feel?

Motivation is one of the main roots to all the issues you can experience when selling your house due to a divorce. Knowing this and understanding how you feel and what your level of motivation is, will be helpful as you move forward.

 

With Divorce Comes Some Hard Reality Checks

Just as I am sure you would want your divorce attorney or therapist to be transparent with you during this time, as your Arkansas Real Estate Agent, it is important for me to be up front with you.

Time and time again I see people getting divorced who want to get some revenge on the other. It comes in so many forms during a divorce—struggles over money, possessions, children…Much of that gets handled in a pretty cut and dried way by lawyers and the court system.

But the house is a ripe place for revenge. It usually comes in the form of one spouse getting in the way of the house selling quickly. However, it could also be the opposite. One spouse could be just trying to dump the house for less than it’s worth to hurt the other one financially.

The worst part about it is that it can be hard to pinpoint or prove. (Not always, of course. Some people are blatant about it.) Hopefully revenge isn’t an issue in your divorce. Hopefully it won’t play any role in how the sale of your house goes. But it might.

And while the potential for revenge may seem obvious to someone who’s already been through this, it can be quite a surprise to someone going through it for the first time—especially if the spouse has been agreeable in other ways throughout the process.

So, for now just be aware that this might be the root of one of the problems we will be getting into shortly and I will be looking for it. By all of us working together, we can get your house sold for market value with the goal of selling as soon as possible!

 

Pricing Your Home to Sell in Divorce

Pricing a home for sale is as much an art as it is a science. Even the “science” of it is pretty subjective. What one agent or appraiser will say is the value may differ from another.

Pricing is something many homeowners tend to ignore even the best advice on. Most homeowners believe their house is worth more than any professional recommends, even when they aren’t getting divorced.

While it’s pretty common for most homeowners to list their home for too high of a price, it can go either way when people are divorcing. Certainly, many divorcing couples want to price their home for more than it’s worth. But there are others who actually want to price it too low.

What makes matters more difficult in a divorce is that you have two people with different motivations, who already don’t necessarily agree on things, who now have to agree on a list price for their home.

Out of all the problems and issues you may have to deal with, the value of your home is one of the only ones that is pretty much out of your control—for both of you. The market value is determined by the buyers in the market. By definition, it is “what a ready, willing, and able buyer is willing to pay for it.”

Getting the highest amount a ready, willing, and able buyer will pay is the trick. And pricing plays a huge role in that. Your home needs to be priced properly. Not too high. That rarely, if ever, works. But not too low either.

But to stay on point, the “problems” you’re likely to encounter are a spouse who either:

  • Wants to price too low.
  • Wants to price too high.

A spouse who wants to price too low is usually the one who just wants to get away from the situation and start their “new life.” Whatever that may be for him or her and for whatever reasons he or she has. But it could also be a form of revenge (trying to hurt the other spouse financially by selling for less than they could).

But more often than not, it’s a matter of one spouse insisting on overpricing and refusing to reduce the price as time moves on. This is often because they need a certain amount of money in order to afford the lifestyle and living arrangement they want or envision. In a way, overpricing can also be a means of revenge. It can be a way in which to hold up the progress of the sale or get in the way of the other spouse from moving on.

Pro tip: You probably both have your own friends who are real estate agents who could give you an opinion on the value of your home. It’s not unheard of for a spouse to ask his or her real estate agent “friend” to come in with either a value that’s too high or too low. While that should never happen, it can and does. The best solution is to ask an agent neither one of you has any connection with to give an independent opinion on the value of your home and work with an agent that is providing that value to you backed by current market statistics.

*I would love to provide you with a free home valuation report as a no commitment gift so you can have a good idea of what your home could sell for in today’s market*

A home that’s properly priced within the market should sell as quickly as possible. “Quickly” is a relative term. In some price ranges and neighborhoods, that may be a few days. In others it may be months. How quickly your well-priced home should sell in your price range and market is something a skilled real estate agent should be able to give you a pretty good handle on.

Your goal, no matter how you feel or what your motivations are, should be to sell your home as quickly as possible. And, of course, for as much as possible. It’s not a game. The house is not a tool or weapon to be used against one’s spouse. It’s an asset and/or a liability that needs to be dealt with due to the divorce, one way or another.

 

Stubbornness Blocking the Deal

Regardless of whether or not you’re selling due to divorce, the most common deal killer I see as a Real Estate Agent is a buyer or seller who refuses to give in.

When it comes to divorce, not giving in, not being agreeable, being stubborn, sticking to his or her guns…or any other variation…is often one spouse’s way of holding things up. Or taking revenge on the other. Here are some examples I have seen:

  • It could come out in the form of not being willing to budge on the asking price.
  • It could be seen during home inspection issues. (Almost every house will have something come up during an inspection. And usually, the owner will agree to take care of at least some of the items and either fix them or give a credit for them.) In a divorce, this is an easy way to “kill” a deal.
  • It’s not unheard of for one spouse to just disappear for days and not be available to sign documents. Sometimes they disappear when it comes time to sign a great offer. Sometimes they disappear on closing day. Despite calls, text messages, or emails, the person is just not find-able.

If this is a problem within your sale, it will be pretty obvious. However, it may not be obvious until you’re in the middle of a deal.

 

A Neutral Agent Yields a Happy Transaction

The best overall solution to most of the problems we’ve gone over is to hire a “neutral” Real Estate Agent. Meaning, an agent that neither one of you may feel has an allegiance to the other.

The relationship between a real estate agent and his/her client is a “fiduciary relationship.” In simplest terms, it’s a “trusting relationship.” That’s important to have, but it’s not always the case—even when two clients aren’t divorcing.

But when the two clients are divorcing, it becomes even more difficult to achieve. It’s not like each of you hiring your own divorce attorney…You can’t each hire your own real estate agent to sell the house and represent your personal feelings and interests. You hire one who represents both of you.

Beyond that… Ideally, you should hire an agent who isn’t just neutral, but one who also has a solid understanding of the unique problems and issues that often occur during the sale of a house due to divorce.

The real estate agent you hire needs to have a firm grasp on these subtle problems and issues and not get caught up in the fray. Your agent needs to be fair, but firm, and make sure the process is as smooth as possible. And that includes being able to identify any underlying reasons why things are happening and being able to help you resolve them.

Selling a house can be an emotional and stressful process for even the happiest couple in the world to go through. Many agents find themselves flustered and floundering to explain why their house isn’t selling. Even in the best circumstances, it can be hard to pinpoint or explain why a house isn’t selling.

As you move forward, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I’ll take great pride in bringing a neutral voice to your situation, and rest assured I have a thorough understanding of what you’re going through right now.

Nicole Nark Little Rock Real Estate AgentHi There! My name is Nicole Nark and I am a Real Estate Agent in Central Arkansas. I have personally wrote and researched the topics found in this blog so that I can provide quality and up-to-date content for you. Please share this article and leave me a comment if there is a topic you wish to learn more about!

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