Selling a home is a complicated and often stressful process even when your life is blissful and carefree. Getting a separation complicates the transaction in many more ways than one, so below I have included five suggestions to help streamline the process during a time where it is very hard to keep a clear head and stick to a plan of action. Staying course with a plan will help you move on as quickly as possible, while putting the most money in your pocket to continue to the next chapter of your life.
- Put Everything in Writing
The first and most important tip would be to put everything in writing. Even if your separation is mutually agreed upon and very amicable, you should write everything down so there are clear expectations with every aspect of the home sale and other important assets. You and your partner will need to write down a home price you will accept, which items you want to keep, and what contingencies each of you would like in order to find a replacement property. The more you have in writing the less of a chance for future disputes that will further sour the process. If agreements cannot be made during this process you will need to seek advice of a lawyer and or an arbitrator.
- Hire an Agent
I never recommend anyone sells their home by themselves, however during a separation this suggestion is even more applicable, as a “for sale by owner” could be the root of many more fights. Aside from the fact that selling a home is a complicated process, you really need an unbiased, non-related party to facilitate the transaction. The agent will be a buffer between you and your partner and should stay in the middle to equally help both sides come to any agreements that are necessary. In this case the agent needs to have experience with these types of sales as they are extra delicate, requiring a great deal of sensitivity, compassion and patience. The agent needs to be prepared for possible unpleasant altercations and will need to have strategies to help both parties move forward.
- Stay Calm
While the memories of living in a home cause highly emotional reflections, especially if kids are involved, you need to remain calm and level headed while selling your home. In most situations it is necessary to sell the home, so however much you would like to keep it you must remember that selling is the only way you will be able to move on and heal. Let your agent take over so he/she can procure you the highest price, which will ultimately to set you up to purchase a new home of your own. Emotions should always stay out of a house sale, no matter if it is a sale from a separation or a person simply upgrading homes. Do whatever you can to keep your feelings to yourself until after the sale, as your home is most likely your largest and most important asset.
- Have Backup Plans
While selling a home not everything always goes to plan. Items come up in inspections, buyer financing falls through, appraisals come in low, and many other situations can come into play. While many of these items can be avoidable, especially if you have a good agent representing you, something always comes up whether it is a small and or a large issue. It is good to have contingency plans in place to see who will be responsible for repairs, what your absolute rock bottom price will be, and what time periods you both agree to. Nothing is really black and white in a real estate transaction so you will need to rely on your agent to explain everything and negotiate items that are in the best interest of both you and your partner.
- Agree to Disagree
This sounds unappealing however it will ultimately be in your best interest. If you stick together and make the house sale strictly a financial and professional transaction you will likely come out with more money in the end. A home buyer doesn’t want to deal with indecisive and divided sellers.