Divorce & Real Estate

Divorce & Real Estate - Is It Time To Go A Different Direction?

Are you going through a life change – a separation or divorce?  A divorce can be a traumatic experience for both parties and is often further complicated by the difficult decision about what to do with the home.  Does one party keep it?  Which spouse can afford to keep it?  How do you determine the current value? Do you need to sell the home - and if so, when?  Most couples will agree on protecting one of their biggest financial investment whether that means one party keeps the home or both decide to sell the home.

There are ways divorcing couples can protect their real estate investment and that starts by being rational and not let emotions take over - no matter how challenging that may be.  In most divorce cases, the court won’t force either party to “buyout” the other party, but they may order the sale of the home for equal share of equity.  If children are involved, a level headed discussion about the children’s future will help each other decide the best course of action needed.  Both parents usually agree that it’s in the best interest of the children to have them remain in the home with one parent.  At least with a “buyout” the children can maintain some familiarity (their home) while the rest of their world is about to change. 
   The home can be a safe & familiar place that can make divorce a little easier versus abruptly losing their home and both parents living together.  It’s often recommend that the primary custodial parent be able to KEEP the home since the children will be with that parent the majority of the time.  When it’s a 50/50 custody the parents need to look at finances and decide who can truly afford to maintain and live in the home.  Unfortunately sometimes it isn’t financially possible for either parent to keep the home. That means the house must be sold and the equity divided accordingly. 

In the midst of this emotional and financial rollercoaster of divorce, couples will need a competent and neutral Real Estate professional.  Before selling a home a comparative market analysis (CMA) should be compiled to help determine the market value of the home.  A CMA is a general guideline -  it does not mean that the appraisal minus mortgage will necessarily equal equity.  The home could have unknown liens or hidden defects like termites, unseen mold or deferred maintenance that can affect the value of the property.  Many times these things  are not discovered until after the property settlement has been signed and finalized. This incomplete equation can leave your house over valued and the spouse retaining the home will not receive an equitable division.  This is another reason a realtor should be hired early on in the divorce process to help couples achieve mutual agreement with a fair home value.

"This is no way meant as financial or legal advice. The advice of an Attorney or  Financial Adviser is always recommended"

As a neutral third person - I will not only help both individuals with real estate decisions, but be there as a friend and confident when emotions happen.  I would be happy to discuss my personal experience and ways we can help each other through a very difficult time.  Remember sometimes you have to go down another path in life – why not have a new friend help you along the way.  All the best,

Diane Martin
A Divorce Realtor