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Selling A Home While Going Through A Divorce

Selling A Home While Going Through A Divorce

Selling A Home While Going Through A Divorce

Whether this is a change that is for the better or there are still some issues to be worked out selling a home during a divorce can be challenging.  A home sale transaction is easier when all parties are cooperative with the sale, meaning the buyers and each of the sellers.  In a divorce situation that can be a little difficult especially if one spouse is still holding on or wishes to take an approach that is confrontational.  Whether the desire is to sell the home or for one party to keep it there are some considerations that need to be made and this article explores.

Deciding To Keep The Home

One of the primary deciding factors for keeping a home during a divorce is whether the spouse who will keep the home can continue to afford to pay for it.  If neither spouse can afford to keep the home independently then the answer is to sell the home.  Whichever spouse plans on keeping the home that decision must be made mutually or decided in court via attorneys.

The potential problem that comes when one spouse wishes to keep the home is that both spouses stay on the mortgage even after divorce.  While a divorce agreement can specify who keeps the home and who is responsible for paying for the home the lender can still look to both former spouses if payments are stopped and the credit score of the spouse who no longer is living in the home will be effected as well.  The deed which shows ownership of the home is easily changed when both parties agree to sign the document changing ownership but that does not work for the mortgage.  The spouse who will keep ownership of the home can refinance the mortgage to just their individual name and is the best path to take for all parties involved.

Selling The Home

Where neither of the spouses want to retain ownership of the home, or don’t want to go through the hassle of refinancing the mortgage and removing one spouse from the deed, selling the home is theother option.  Both spouses need to be cooperative when it comes to selling the house as both padlock wedding ringsspouses are required to sign off on listing agreement documents and both are needed to sign off on the closing documents.  A non-cooperative spouse can be ordered to comply by a court and the penalty for ignoring a court order could be a fine or even jail time due to being in contempt of a court order.

In order to get the best value of the home the home needs to be properly prepared which means making the home as move in ready as possible.  The spouses can consider selling a home as-is especially if funds are tight or they cannot agree to what repairs/updates need to be done or who will pay for it.  Selling a home as-is though will prevent the spouses from receiving the best price possible as most buyers are looking for move-in ready homes.

Setting the right price for the home is also important as if a home is priced too high the home will not get sold.  Buyers are very well educated with regards to homes and pricing and an overpriced home will get ignored.  The longer a home sits on the market the harder it will be to sell the home as homes with long time on market tend to suffer a stigma from buyers who think there is something more wrong than just a high price.

Work With A Realtor When Selling

Some homeowners may think they can save money and do a better job without listing with a real estate agent.  A real estate agent acts as the go between for the buyers and the sellers and can also serve as the go between for the seller spouses if they are not on the best of terms.  The goal is to get the home sold and a real estate agent specializes in that.  When the home first comes to market the real estate agent is responsible for providing tips on how to make the home look best, getting great photographs and video, as well as pricing and marketing the home.  

Once an offer is accepted on the home there are a number of timelines that must be followed.  By missing the timelines in a transaction the sellers can put themselves at risk of having the buyers walk away or giving the buyer an unnecessary advantage.  For example the buyer usually has a certain time frame within which to perform a home inspection.  Once inspected the buyer needs to provide a repair request to the seller within a certain time frame.  If the buyer is late and submits that repair request hand holding houseoutside of the deadline the seller does not have to make the repairs.  Unless someone (like a real estate agent) is paying attention to those deadlines and pushing back the seller may be spending more time and more money than they have to.

Make Sure Your Attorney Is Aware Of The Sale

Unless the homeowners are in an area where a no-fault divorce can be filed and there is no dispute as to how the marital assets are to be divided each side should have their attorney engaged in the home sale process.  If any questions or concerns arise as to one spouse not working together to get the house sold, the attorneys will need to get involved.  The real estate agent working on the sale may also need to communicate directly with the divorce attorneys in order to get guidance on matters such as setting a price for the home, negotiation of offers and more if the sellers are not working on the same page with regards to such matters.

Bottom Line 

Selling a home while going through a divorce can be a challenging process especially when the spouses are not always in agreement.  By working with a real estate agent, homeowners working to sell their home during a divorce has a neutral person who can help with the process.  Spouses should work together to get the house sold as both are required to complete the sale.

Additional Resources

  • Home Preparation Tips To Use Before Listing A Home For Sale - Proper home prepation prior to listing a home for sale helps when it comes to how the home appears in online photos and how the home will be perceived when buyers visit the home.  Proper presentation means home sellers will be able to get more money than by attempting to sell the home as-is.
  • Hiring A Real Estate Agent To Sell A Home While Going Through A Divorce - Not every real estate agent is knowledgeable enough to help a divorcing couple with the process of selling their home.  There are more legal considerations to be aware of during the home sale and this article provides some tips on what home sellers should be looking for when selling a home during a divorce.
  • Closing Checklist For Home Sellers - Home sellers can follow along in the process from accepting an offer to getting their home sold with the handy checklist in this article.

About the author: The above article “New Construction Home Buying Process” was provided by Top New Home Construction Specialist Paul Sian. Paul can be reached at or by phone at 513-560-8002. If you’re thinking of selling or buying your investment or commercial business property I would love to share my marketing knowledge and expertise to help you.  Contact me today!

I work in the following Greater Cincinnati, OH and Northern KY areas: Alexandria, Amberly, Amelia, Anderson Township, Cincinnati, Batavia, Blue Ash, Covington, Edgewood, Florence, Fort Mitchell, Fort Thomas, Hebron, Hyde ParkIndian Hill, Kenwood, Madeira, Mariemont, Milford, Montgomery, Mt. Adams, Mt. Washington, Newport, Newtown, Norwood, Taylor Mill, Terrace Park, Union Township, and Villa Hills.


#1 By Gabe Sanders at 6/13/2020 9:26 AM

This is where a straight face and taking no sides becomes crucial. It can be a very tricky process.

#2 By Paul at 6/13/2020 9:41 AM

Agree Gabe, taking sides is a bid no.

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