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Cover story: Divorce-caused sales carry own considerations
Question of the Day
“One of the issues in a depressed market is that the house can sit on the market for quite a while,” Ms. Goodman said, adding that expenses to maintain the home can add up quickly.
She said the person in the home often is the one responsible for the repairs and upkeep. A separation agreement helps outline those responsibilities.
“I recommend a separation agreement to work out what’s going to happen and how you are going to divide a possible loss. It’s really important to have that information when it’s time to go to closing,” she said.
When it comes to marketing and showing the home, experts said it’s best that potential buyers don’t know that the home is on the market because of a divorce. Ms. Koerber said she’s frequently told by clients that they don’t want the situation to be perceived as a “fire sale.”
“A tip that I offer to couples is to have the clothing and personal items of both parties in and around the home. This is a security measure as well as a way to prevent fire-sale offers,” she said.
Mr. Cormier said sometimes buyers may decide to pass over homes on the market because of a divorce because they think one of the spouses may try to sabotage the deal or have a meltdown and decide not to sell.
Gregory Yancey, an attorney in Columbia, Md., said while communication is key in the real estate transaction, that can be easier said than done - a lack of communication often led to the divorce in the first place.
“I’d advise clients to try to be as logical as possible and pick your battles,” he said.
One of the myths surrounding divorce and real estate is that when the marital home is in the name of one spouse, the home belongs exclusively to that person, Mr. Yancey said. No matter whose name is on the mortgage or deed, he said, the home is still considered marital property and belongs to both parties.
He also recommended that couples agree to sell the martial home and both get a fresh start.
“Sometimes there are bad memories with the house. You have to think about if what you are fighting for is worth it,” he said.
Ms. Goodman added that it’s also best to keep emotions and vindictiveness out of the transaction in order to obtain the best sale price.
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