Going through a divorce is almost always guaranteed to be stressful and can cause a lot of anxiety. On top of the emotional stress, divorce can also be very hard on people financially. According to recent studies, the average total cost of divorce in the United States is $15,000.
So it would make sense that one of the most stressful parts of any divorce lies in deciding how to split up assets such as the marital home. What happens when one spouse wants to keep the house, and the other wants to sell? Worse, what if both want to keep the house?
In tough situations like these, it often makes the most sense to sell the property and move on. Read on to learn how to sell a house during a divorce.
Things to Consider: Sell or Buy-Out Your Soon-to-be Ex-Spouse
Perhaps you don’t want to sell the house outright. Maybe it’s in a great location near work or school. However, buying out the house from your almost-ex may open a whole new can of worms.
If one of you really wants to keep the house, consider the following:
- Refinancing after a spouse-to-spouse sale is usually more complicated than just figuring out how to sell a house during a divorce
- Working out how to split equity fairly is complicated, thanks to factors such as the balance on existing loans and the ability to secure financing
- The spouse who keeps the home must be able to afford payments on their own
Things to Consider: Be Sure You Understand Capital Gains Tax During Divorce
If one spouse buys out the other’s share in the house, the house will be considered part of the divorce, so you won’t (likely) have to pay capital gains tax, according to Divorcenet.com.
If you buy out your spouse, then decide to sell the house, you will (likely) be liable for capital gains. You may be able to offset some of the tax if you live in the house for at least two years before selling.
Taxes are complex, so be sure to consult a tax professional before making the decision to sell or not.
Step 1: Get on the Same Page With Your Spouse
Before you make final decisions about selling a house during a divorce, make sure you both agree that it’s the best option. When emotions run high, keeping the lines of communication open and being direct about expectations will help ease the process.
Letting go of a home can be difficult, but for many divorcing couples, selling a house offers financial and emotional freedom. Selling a home can offer a clean slate and a chance to start fresh after a difficult time in your life.
Step 2: Decide on the Best Time to Sell a House During a Divorce
When’s the best time to sell the family home: Before, during, or after the divorce? Each option has pros and cons for the divorcing couple.
If you sell the home before your divorce, each spouse is likely to get a fair share of profits. This means neither of you may have to give up something else you want in order to keep the house.
You may choose to sell the house while you’re going through the divorce. In such cases, it makes sense to work with a real estate agent that you both feel you can trust. You’ll have to all work together to decide on a price as well as how you’ll split profits fairly.
However, you’ll also have to worry about prepping and staging the home for sale, and you’ll still be on the hook for mortgage payments. Protect yourself by having an attorney document how the mortgage, utilities, and other house-related bills will be covered until the divorce is final.
If you sell after the divorce, that’s one less thing to worry about during the divorce. However, you’ll still have to work out who gets the house.
Step 3: Prepare the Home for Sale
Once you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree that it makes sense to sell, prepare the property.
First, identify any repairs. Create a list of issues to address, from leaky faucets to creaking floorboards, and determine costs associated with each fix.
Next, determine which repairs (if any) are necessary. Often it’s simpler to sell the house as-is during a divorce. If you do decide to complete fixes, decide who will pay for what.
Finally, decide who will take charge of the staging process. Staging may involve cleaning, decluttering, and rearranging in order to help potential buyers visualize themselves — and their belongings — in your home.
Step 4: List the House
Now it’s time to put the property on the market. Most people choose to use a realtor to help facilitate the selling process.
You and your spouse will have to decide on a mutually acceptable selling price, and a realtor can help you determine what the market will bear.
In the case that one of you is still living in the home, you’ll also have to work out how to handle showings. In addition to being a major inconvenience, open houses and ‘for sale’ signs are bound to draw questions from your neighbors who you may not want to know all of the details about your personal life.
A quick sale is preferable, as you’ll want to complete the sale before the divorce is final in order to take advantage of tax benefits. If you choose to sell the home traditionally, the home may sit on the market for 40 to 180 or more days depending on the market before the sale closes. The faster you can sell, the less likely you are to lose out on marital tax breaks.
Step 5: Divide the Profit
Congratulations: Your house is sold! Now comes the “fun” part: figuring out who gets what percentage of the profit.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t always translate to a 50/50 split. For instance, if one spouse contributed more to the mortgage or financial upkeep during the marriage, they may be awarded a larger chunk of the sale.
Conversely, if one spouse is keeping a greater amount of other assets, they may take less of the home sale profits. Consulting your attorney during the home sale process can help you come to an equitable decision.
Other options exist. You may consider co-owning the house and living as roommates. You may even consider dividing the house in half with walls or other barriers if privacy is an issue.
Some divorced couples keep the marital home and treat it as a timeshare, co-leasing an apartment and splitting time between the two properties.
Fortunately, there’s an easier option for those wondering how to sell a house during a divorce: Sell to HomeGo. For most divorcing couples, the goal is to sell quickly and move on, rather than worrying about a shared asset as it sits on the market.
Most couples would prefer to skip the hassle and stress of staging a home, keeping it ready to show at all times, and paying for often-expensive repairs and costly upgrades that so many potential buyers expect.
In contrast, HomeGo can provide a same-day offer, close in as few as 7 days, and purchase the home in as-is condition. Plus, a HomeGo sale is discreet; your home never is listed, so you won’t have to field questions from nosy neighbors about why you’re selling.