Ten Things to Consider When Selling Your House During a Divorce

1. Selecting an agent to work with

Real estate agents tell me that their worst nightmare is a couple that can’t cooperate on selling a house. The real estate agent cannot represent just one of you and it is important to select an agent who can work with both of you. Your cousin’s wife is probably not the best choice. You need someone neutral.

2. Take care of the deferred maintenance

Your real estate agent will tell you that deferred maintenance will greatly impact the sale of your house. A few dollars spent here will yield a great return on investment.

3. Finish the remodeling projects

I used to joke that when a couple’s marriage is deteriorating they will remodel the house in hopes that that will repair the marriage. The stress of the remodel may create even more stress on the marriage and the remodel doesn’t get completed. Hire someone to complete the job at least minimally. A missing shower in the bathroom does not help a house sell.

4. Have a mechanism for resolving disputes over sale price or accepting offers

It is really disconcerting when an agent brings an offer to a couple and one of them won’t agree. Usually offers require a quick response and you don’t have time to call in a mediator. This is when it is important to trust your realtor.

5. Don’t let your house look divorced

Buyers want happy houses. When it is obvious one of the parties has moved out it gives the house a negative look. Empty spaces in the closet, a hole where the TV used to be, missing furniture all give a house a sad look. Cheer it up even if you don’t feel cheerful.

6. Make sure both of your lawyers are on board

You don’t want to have a last minute glitch because one of the lawyers won’t let his/her client sign final documents. By the way, be prepared to provide documents to lenders. Underwriters can get apprehensive when dealing with divorcing people.

7. Stay away during open houses and showings

Your sad face or tears as new people look at your house is not going to leave the potential buyer with warm fuzzy feelings about your house.

8. Make sure the contingencies meet your needs

Often the possession date can be negotiated. Maybe you need extra time to find a new place to live. Make this clear before you accept an offer.

9. Let your agent help you find your next house

An agent who has done a good job for you in selling your house will be even more motivated to help you buy your next house.

10. Trust your agent

This is a repeat of number one but it is critical. You and your spouse have to rely on this agent to do the best job representing both of you.