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Divorce and the House: A Guide To Get Through It

By Kristen Gavazzi

We are getting a divorce…now what?  One of the biggest questions facing a divorcing couple in a shared home is what to do with the house?  There are 4 basic options when it comes to a property. 

1) One party could buy out the other party 

2) Both parties can continue to co-own the house with one spouse moving out

3) Both parties can divide the marital assets where one person will get the house and the other person gets other assets owned

4) Both decide to sell the house and go their separate ways

It’s important to note that not all states handle these transactions the same.  The state you live in will determine if the house is considered marital or separate property. 

Florida operates under the laws of equitable distribution, which essentially means property acquired during the marriage belongs to the spouse who earned it, and during a divorce, all assets and liabilities are to be divided between the spouses in a fair and equitable manner.  Of course, if you can settle your case outside of a courtroom, such as mediation, then you can decide what happens to suit the best interests of your family. Without getting into the specific legalities of divorce, let’s look at when the need for a realtor arises.

For the purpose of this article, we are going to concentrate on Option 4, selling the house and moving on, with the help of The Volen Group, of course.  Thankfully, an experienced, unbiased agent can come into a hectic situation, listen for the right clues, and chart a path for a resolution.  

If the divorcing couple decides to sell the home, then the proceeds can be split up as agreed upon by each party’s respective attorney and each party can go their separate ways.  This option offers a clean break and can provide each party with the cash to cover other expenses related to the divorce. Of course, both parties will also need to find new living arrangements, and we are here to help with that as well.

Selling a home during a divorce requires a wide range of decisions, including but not limited to, list price, contract negotiations, and the closing date. 

All of this requires good communication and cooperation amongst the divorcing couple, the attorneys, and the chosen real estate agent. It’s important for everyone to be comfortable with the person or group used to sell the home since personal details are often shared and emotions can run high during this stressful event. 

It’s critical to find an agent who provides the professionalism, compassion, and confidentiality that is required in divorce situations. Our expertise and connections with the best lenders, inspectors, stagers, title professionals, etc.. can help forge a successful partnership that can lead to the ultimate goal which is to protect the house asset and move on to living situations that best suit the needs of the divorcing couple.  

Here are some of the things that will need to happen to ensure a successful and timely sale of the house:

Hiring a Realtor:

This is always a good idea since there are so many other items in play during a divorce and the situation can be stressful.  Additionally, a realtor will cover the cost of marketing and professional photography and make sure that the transaction is as bulletproof as possible. Our team offers in-house styling and decor advice.  If necessary, The Volen Group will help you hire a stager or home organizer to help you show your house in its best light.

Here’s a guide to help you make the selection on which real estate agent is the best fit.

Agreeing to a Reasonable Sale Price:  

Find an experienced agent who can give you a Competitive Market Analysis of your house and help the divorcing parties agree on a list price.  Data shows that pricing your home at market rather than a “test price” garners sellers more views and an overall higher sales price.

Accepting an Offer: 

Once an offer is received, a realtor can help the divorcing parties agree to the terms of the offer or help them agree on a counteroffer which will necessitate the continuation of the negotiations. Finesse and professionalism are critical here. Emotions are often high, and you need an agent who is sensitive to the matter.

Getting the Paperwork Signed: 

Divorces require a lot of documentation and deadlines, so do real estate transactions. Thus, it’s helpful to have a realtor to keep track of all the related documentation and transaction deadlines to get you to your closing date without additional stress.  

Making the Mortgage Payments Prior to the Sale:  

The divorcing parties continue making mortgage payments while the house is on the market.  The lawyers can help figure this aspect of the deal out amicably.  

Splitting the proceeds from the Sale:  

With home staging, necessary home repairs, closing costs, and commissions, everyone must understand that selling the house is an expensive proposition.  All of these expenses need to be settled prior to splitting the profits.  

About the Author: Kristen Gavazzi, is a real estate agent with The Volen Group, Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners. She has her RCS-D designation (Real Estate Collaborative Specialist for Divorce) and is ready to help you navigate your house decision. 


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