If you and your spouse agree that selling your home and dividing the profit is the best choice as you divorce, you’re in a better place than a lot of couples who fight over their home. However, you’ve still got some challenges ahead of you.
Selling a home is rarely a pleasant experience. Going through it while you’re ending your marriage can be particularly difficult – unless you both commit to working toward a mutual goal of getting the best possible price as quickly as possible. One advantage of selling the home sooner rather than later is that if you’re going to file one last joint income tax return, you can deduct up to $500,000 in capital gains from your taxes rather than the $250,000 that’s deductible as a single filer.
The first step is to find a real estate agent you both trust (maybe someone you’ve used in the past) and who has experience selling homes for divorcing couples. There are even real estate divorce specialists who have additional training in this area.
They can help you avoid some of the pitfalls that too often delay home sales and hurt divorcing couples financially. They’ll likely make some recommendations like those we’ll discuss here.
One of you should remain in the home
Homes typically sell better when they look lived-in (just not too lived-in). Your agent may have you put away some personal items like photos so prospective buyers can better envision themselves there. If it’s obvious the sellers have moved (or are divorcing), agents and buyers assume they’re anxious to sell and will take a lower price.
Decide who will handle maintenance and repairs
Neglecting simple repairs and maintenance issues can decrease the sale price. You want to fix anything an inspector will notice. You’ll need to decide whether one or both of you can handle these or if you need to bring in pros.
Don’t neglect routine maintenance like pool cleaning, lawn mowing and just regular cleaning. If you hire people to do these things, keep them on until the home is sold. This isn’t the time to fight over who will pay them.
Going through a divorce and selling a home are two of the most significant stressors someone can experience. If you’re going through them simultaneously, make sure you have trusted legal guidance to help you make the best decisions.