Selling Your Home During a Divorce in Southern California

William Soto
William Soto
Published on August 19, 2017

Going through a divorce can be downright brutal. On top of that, you are supposed to deal with one of the most complicated financial transactions in life? Navigating the sale of your house is one of the last things you really want to add to your weight of overwhelm. These 5 steps you can help you to sell your home faster and easier, so you can move on.  

Make no mistake about it, this is a business decision. Whatever decisions you make today will affect your future. How you ultimately rebound from your divorce is directly related to the decisions you make while you are going through it.

The home can often become an instrumental financial pawn and source of strife that can ultimately lead to financial ruin, particularly in the case of a contentious divorce.

The decision to sell ones home during a divorce  usually occurs as a result of one of the two parties involved not having the means to afford it. The the cost of divorce can be utterly absurd, and the dual income that went to support the marital household has now divided between two.

Expense isn’t limited to lawyers’ fees. One spouse must purchase new furniture, incur rent or a new mortgage, cost of covering utilities, health insurance, and so on.  An unfortunate scenario, but one we find ourselves in often, is having to help homeowners sell their home while going through a divorce.

Our best advice for anyone finding themselves deciding to sell their home during a divorce is to empower them by providing access to information that provide them with opportunity to come out of this financially stable and ready to begin their new chapter in life.

Read on to find out what options are available for divorcing homeowners to help determine which route is the best for your individual situation.

Tips For Deciding On What To Do With Your Home When Going Through A Divorce

Typically when selling a home during a divorce there are a handful of different options that a divorcing couple can decide on.  It’s important to think about all the options that are available and to select the best option. Below are three of the most common options to decide from when selling a home during a divorce.

 

One Of The Spouses “Buys Out” The Other

 

One option that exists for homeowners who are going through a divorce is one spouse “buys out” the other.  What occurs in this scenario is one of the spouses takes over the full responsibility of the home.  In most cases, in order to do this, the spouse who is buying the other out will have to pay a lump sum to the other, which typically will incorporate any equity that has been built in the property over the years of marriage.

 

In order for a buy out to be possible, the spouse who is taking over full responsibility of the home

 will need to apply for a refinance of the home in only their name.  The party who is going to take responsibility of the home will need to go through the mortgage pre-approval process and prove that they have the ability to afford the home.

If one spouse is able to afford the home only in their name and the divorce is final, the other spouse will need to sign what is called a “quit claim deed.” “An attorney can draw up this document for a reasonable cost and it needs to be filed with the courts, which traditionally will have a small cost to do so.

It’s recommended that when one spouse decides to buy out the other that an attorney and the courts are involved.  This helps ensure that one party is not getting taken advantage of and certainly can help eliminate problems in the future.

Sell The Home Immediately

Another option that exists for divorcing homeowners is to sell the home immediately.  Of the three options, this is the most common result.

If the divorcing couple decides to sell the home immediately, the proceeds or shortages that result in the sale of the home are generally split.  In the event that a divorcing couple does not have enough equity in a home, it is pretty common to see a short sale scenario since typically a divorcing couple does not want to put more money into the home or the divorce.

Many couples we have worked with selling their home during a divorce will opt to sell their home through our exclusive auction advantage platform, over a traditional home sale.   Using this platform allows them to sell their home for the highest price, in the shortest possible time frame, without the usual headaches associated with a traditional listing.  Auction home sales are for traditional sales only, and especially successful for luxury homes.  Of the 708 auction home sales we have listed, 643 sold…in less than 27 days. It is an advantageous approach for divorcing home sellers to utilize that outperforms the often lengthy traditional home selling process.  It saves valuable time and money, and without the usual headaches…something couples navigating through divorce could use a lot less of.

The Couple Continues To Co-Own The Home

Co-own the home after divorce when kids are involved

The third option that exists when selling a home while going through a divorce is the couple will continue to co-own the property.  The primary reason that a divorcing couple will choose this option is because there are kids involved.  Selling a home with kids  can be tricky enough let alone uprooting the kids from their family home because of a divorce.

There are some important considerations that need to be made when selecting to continue to co-own a home while going through a divorce.  First it’s important that there is a mutual understanding in place that be

cause the property is still in both parties names, missing payments will affect both parties credit scores.

It’s highly recommended that if a divorcing couple decides to co-own the home that there is an agreement in writing.  This agreement should outline exactly who will be responsible for paying what.  If one of the spouses is p

lanning on buying out the other, this needs to be clear and concise in a written agreement.

Is Your State A Community Property State?

If you’re selling a home while going through a divorce, it is important to understand whether your state is community property distribution state or equitable distribution.  Community Property can be defined as both spouses  typically considered equal owners of all marital property. In other words, if you live in a Community Property State, whatever you earn or acquire during the marriage is co-owned by both parties, regardless of who earned it or whose name is on the title. That means whatever you earn or acquire during the marriage is split 50-50 during a divorce.

California is an Community Property State.  It’s important to understand how property is divided in your state, it’s recommended you consult an attorney.

Hire A Realtor® Who Has Experience In Dealing With Divorce

If a divorcing couple decides that the best option is to sell the home immediately it is very important that a Realtor® who has experience in dealing with selling homes during divorces is hired.  Anytime a homeowner decides to sell their home, it’s very important they know how to interview real estate agents to sell a home.  When it comes to selling a home while going through a divorce, it becomes even more important to know what questions to ask prospective agents.

Knowing how to hire a real estate agent while going though a divorce can make the difference between the home sale being successful and smooth, or neither.  The first question to ask prospective real estate agents is whether they have sold homes where the homeowners were going through a divorce.  A real estate agent who has experience with dealing with divorce and selling homes will know the importance of a quick sale while maximizing the sale price.

Additionally the agent should know how to handle stressful situations that can arise when selling a home during a divorce.  Recently while selling a home in Orange County, CA there was a conflict between the divorcing couple once an offer was received and the home inspection was completed.  The roof of the couples home was in need of repair and an agreement could not be made as to who would pay for the repairs of the roof.  Once the divorcing couple was made aware that not getting the repairs completed could potentially be a reason the transaction would fall apart and they needed to look at the situation as a business decision, a resolution was agreed upon.

How To Determine The Listing Price Of The Home When Going Through A Divorce

There are two major factors that determine whether a home will sell or not, price and marketing.  Once a divorcing couple hires a trusted and reputable real estate agent who knows what real estate marketing strategies sell homes in their market, it’s now time to decide on the listing price of the home.

Determining the wrong price is the kiss of death, typically leading to an unsuccessful home sale.  There are many real estate pricing mistakes that homeowners make and it’s important when selling a home while going through a divorce, they are avoided at all costs.

The auction advantage sales platform is our first suggestion to divorcing home sellers, to ensure highest sale price is achieved, and done in the shortest possible time frame.  For more information about the trending home selling option creating unprecedented results in Orange County, click here to review further statistics.

Should you prefer to list traditionally, you will need to determine the proper price of your home and ought to expect that your real estate agent will provide a detailed comparative market analysis, also known as a CMA.  A detailed CMA is a great way to identify what has been going on in your local real estate market and what comparable homes have been selling for.  It’s important to initiate a timely sale that the price is attractive to prospective home buyers.

A detailed CMA also can help divorcing homeowners understand the current state of their real estate market.  It’s important to know whether the local market is currently a sellers market, balanced market, or a buyers market.  One statistic that can help a seller understand what the current state of their real estate market is the local absorption rate.  If a market is currently a buyers market, it is important to price the home more aggressively since a buyer is able to choose from an abundance of inventory.  Again, setting a perceived price can undermine results, and again why an auction sale outperforms with achieving a higher sale price.

It should be noted that typically each party has the option to obtain a market analysis from a Realtor® as well as have an appraisal done to help determine what the listing price of the home will be.

Tips To Prepare A Home For Sale During A Divorce

One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners who are selling their home while going through a divorce make is not properly preparing it for sale.  Since some divorces can be less than cordial, it’s critical that both parties involved take all of the emotions out of the home selling process and realize it is now a business decision and properly preparing the home for the market is important for a quick sale.

Some of the best tips for divorcing couples as they prepare their home for the market include;

  • Remove clutter
  • Freshly paint rooms, where needed
  • Consider making small updates such as light fixtures
  • Eliminate any foul odors
  • Clean up exterior and inspect curb appeal

It’s important to remember when selling a home during a divorce that you have one opportunity to make a first impression.  Many buyers can get a feeling of whether a home has been well cared for or not right away and it’s important to not scare away potential buyers.

Final Thoughts

Selling a home while going through a divorce is not a pleasurable experience.  It’s important to remember to do your best to keep emotions out of the equation while attempting to sell your home during a divorce.

Keep in mind that once the home is sold or at least a solution is reached, it will get easier.  If you follow the above tips for selling a home during a divorce, you greatly increase the chances that it will be a relatively quick and stress-free home sale…  allowing you to move on.

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