For many people going through a divorce their biggest asset is their home or in legal speak, the marital residence. Deciding what to do about the marital residence is often a major issue in a divorce. There are a few different options when it comes to splitting the marital residence.
One option is for one spouse to keep the house and buy out the other spouse’s share. Another option is for one spouse to be granted exclusive use for a specified period of time, usually when the youngest child turns 18, after which the house will be sold. Finally, the house can be sold outright with the profits being allocated to each spouse.
Should you sell your house? Hard as it may be this is a decision that needs to be made devoid of emotions. As a practical matter take into consideration whether or not it is financially beneficial to keep the home. If not and you do decide to sell here are a few tips to help you through the process.
Time is money: Put your home on the market as far in advance as possible of purchasing a new one. Remember that when people buy and sell a home there usually is a domino effect. Closing and moving dates have to be coordinated, and the more firmly everyone commits to a window of dates and sticks to them, the better for all involved. Put all agreements about dates in writing, and protect yourself by negotiating financial penalties for failure to live up to the agreement.
Check your curb appeal: A home that’s visually appealing and in good condition will attract potential buyers. This is your home’s first impression and it should be a good one! Here are a few things to look at: Are the lawn and shrubs well maintained? How are your sidewalks and foundation? Are they cracked? Does the driveway need resurfacing? Are the gutters, and chimney in good condition? Do the window casings, shutters, siding, or doors need painting? Are garbage cans stored out of sight? Are lawn mowers, etc. properly stored? Is the garage door closed?
On the inside: Probably the least expensive thing you can do to make your home appealing is to make sure it is clean. Windows, floors and bathroom tiles should sparkle. Make sure you have clean heating and air conditioning filters. Shampoo dirty carpets, clean tubs and showers, repair dripping faucets and oil squeaky doors. Keep your home neat, clean, and picked-up at all times. It should not only be squeaky clean but it should smell fresh. You may be used to the smell of a pet or cigarettes, and not even be aware of them, but such odors can be offensive to others.
Remove unnecessary clutter from the all areas of the home including the garage, basement, attic, and closets. Organize and straighten stored items. If your home is crowded with too much furniture, consider putting some things into storage. If a room needs a fresh coat of paint, use a neutral off-white. Finally, set a mood for the buyer. Make your house homey with live flowers and fresh guest towels in the bathroom.
For your own safety and peace of mind, remove valuables such as jewelry and other items from view. It might be wise to put these items in a safe deposit box before you begin showing your home.
Professional help: Unless you are willing to do all of the work in selling your home yourself, a real estate agent is a good idea. They can be the voice of reason during this emotional time. We often have so many memories and emotions tied to our homes that we don’t always see their shortcomings. Conversely, not everybody is aware of the real estate market and the values of homes in an area. A good realtor will help you set a fair price.
Keep in mind that cosmetic changes do not have to be expensive. In fact, costly home improvements do not necessarily offer a good return on your investment when you sell. It’s attention to the basics that says this home has been carefully maintained. That attention to details will help you get the price you want, even if you don’t really want to sell the house.