One of the hardest decisions facing divorcing couples is whether to sell their marital home or not. If you are in this position, this is the optimum time to consider your options.
Spring is fast approaching, and that is the time of year considered by many to be the best time to sell a home. Why? After a long, cold, dreary winter, spring brings uplifting changes. The grass is beginning to green, the trees are budding, bulbs are blooming and birds are chirping. Everything looks better in the spring, and that adds to curb appeal. Buyers who have children, generally begin their search for a new home in the spring, as they want to close before the new school year begins in September. It is also a good time for sellers to list their home, as it enables their children to finish the current school year.
If you find yourself faced with the decision to possibly sell your home, now is the time to make that decision. If you do decide to sell, you’ll want to leave yourself enough time to make any repairs or cosmetic updates to the home to ready it for sale. Today real estate brokers talk about “staging” your home to make it more marketable. This generally includes a good clean up, purging the home of clutter, and removing photos and personal items that make the home unique to you and maybe a fresh coat of paint here and there. Even if you do not intend to get rid of any of your furniture after the sale, you might consider putting some of the unnecessary or overly bulky pieces in storage for a time to make the home feel more spacious.
You might want to talk to a real estate broker in your area to get a sense of the realistic value of your home, and how to price it. A broker can also recommend ideas for staging, and affordable cosmetic changes that will add value to your home.
If you have made the decision to sell, then it is not too soon to get your home ready to list as soon as possible.
What if you either haven’t decided on whether to sell or not, or disagree on the decision? Then this is the time to get the right kind of help to enable you to make a sound decision. Some people consult their accountant to go over budgets, and look at the financial costs of keeping the home. This certainly can be helpful but is just a starting point
Turning to a mediator can help you look at the pros and cons in other regards as well. Does one of you want to buy out the other, and is that feasible? Do you want to stay partners in the home, with one of you living there with your children for a period of time? How does that work? Is it even financially possible? Your mediator can help you look at creative arrangements that might help make that possible. Sometimes, after exploring all possible options, there is no other choice but to sell. That decision is often more acceptable when the reality of the situation is explained by a neutral third party.
Some of the things to take into consideration when selling is whether to list the home privately, or with a real estate broker. When researching real estate brokers, explore what you can expect from them. Some things to consider are how much is his/her commission? Most brokers charge a percentage of the purchase price of the home as a commission. This can range from as little as 2% to 5 or 6% in some areas. Are there differences in a broker’s services? Will he/she arrange to have prospective purchasers pre-approved, and bring only qualified buyers to view your home? Will he/she personally supervise the showing your home? Will he/she have one or more “Open House’ showings for your home, and if so, how often? Where will your home be advertised? Will your broker use print ads, internet listings, or both? Will your broker arrange for photographs to be used as a “Virtual Tour” of your home? How familiar is he/she with your town and what is his/her track record for selling homes in your area? A qualified broker will be happy to give you answers to these or whatever other questions you might have.
In making the decision to sell, or to stay in your home, it is important to consider market conditions. Is it presently a seller’s or buyer’s market? The new tax law has limited what taxpayers are eligible to deduct for real estate expenses on their tax returns. Under the new law only $10,000 in real estate taxes are deductible. If your taxes are two or more times that amount, it might make the home less affordable to you in the future. Currently, it is too early to know how this will affect the values of homes in your area, but it is something to consider.
On the other hand, if you are renting a portion of your home, or have the ability to rent in the future, your home may be a very reasonable place to house your children, at least until they graduate.
As you can see, there are many considerations that go into your decision whether to sell the house or not. For most couples, it can feel overwhelming. If you need help with these, and other important choices you are facing, call a mediator. We can help get you on the right path by exploring all the options available that may not be apparent.