The challenges of selling a home while divorcing

Of the many challenges you might face while going through divorce, having to leave your home is not only emotionally disruptive, but has the potential to create short term havoc as well. Imagine not only having to pack and move your personal possessions, but also having to cater to strangers traipsing through your home on a regular basis.

Because selling a home during divorce can sometimes offers additional pitfalls, choosing the correct Realtor® as well as arranging a thorough home sale agreement with your ex-spouse may minimize the emotional stress and grief, as well as possibly avoiding additional conflict. As always, I need to remind you that I am not an attorney, and if you’re going through or thinking of separation/divorce, consult your attorney for legal counsel.

Of course you want to choose a listing agent with sharp real estate acumen. However, consider additional agent attributes such as facilitator, active listener, as well as being discreet. Most top real estate agents are good facilitators, being able to move a transaction from an offer to close; but in a divorce situation, the listing agent should not only address the buyers side in negotiation, the agent needs to be able to facilitate the transaction by bringing both ex-spouses together.

In what may seem to be a skill that is scarce these days, active listening is not only hearing what you may have to say but is demonstrating you are understood. Not unlike a counselor, the agent with active listening skills is able to recap a conversation and be able to actively address your concerns during the home sale.

To thwart unwanted lowball offers, the listing agent must be also be discreet. Home buyers may sometimes mistakenly equate a divorce related home sale with a distressed property, and subsequently present an offer that is below market pricing. Additionally, the listing agent must remember that they have a fiduciary responsibility when representing all the sellers of the property and not should not favor one side or attempt to cram offers through.

Having a thorough home sale agreement prior to listing is not always realistic, it’s not unusual for an agreement to be reached after the sale. However, giving consideration to other sale related issues in addition to disbursing the sale proceeds can facilitate a sale. To assist in making your transaction and transition smoother, consider the disbursement of escrow accounts, payment of left over bills, property damage and removal of your spouse’s possessions.

The mortgage and water bill escrows are sometimes forgotten during a divorce sale. When your mortgage is paid off, the mortgage company will refund any remainder of the escrow account that was used to pay your insurance and property tax. Additionally, the remainder of the escrow that is collected at settlement to pay the final water bill must be disbursed as well.

An ex-spouse’s personal property can sometimes linger, making the home appear cluttered and creating challenges to staging. Arranging to remove personal property prior to listing may assist in showing the home at its best. Additionally, agreements as how to handle escrow shortages and any property damage that occurs prior to settlement may also prevent potential closing issues and delays.

Although proactively arranging for all pitfalls in the divorce sale is not always realistic, consulting with your attorney can help you navigate through the obstacles.

by Dan Krell
© 2011

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

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