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10 Sell

Your Divorce Advisor Tips

10 Tips on whether to sell your house

  • Does either of you want to keep the house? If so, can either of you afford to keep the house considering that you'll have to pay the mortgage, tax, insurance, utilities and upkeep expenses by yourself? If you pay child or spousal support, you'll pay these expenses on top of your support payments. If you receive child or spousal support, will you be able to make the payments even if the child or spousal support payment is late? Will making the payments on the house leave you with so little money that you'll have to eat ketchup sandwiches, or find another part time job, leaving you too little time or energy for parenting or leisure time?
  • Can you keep up with the routine maintenance on the house? Will you feel like mowing the yard by yourself after a hard day at the office? Can you take time off from work to wait for the washing machine repair service?
  • Are there repairs that need to be made? When the inevitable roof leak or furnace failure happens, can you either make the repairs yourself or afford to hire someone?
  • Does the house hold too many sad memories?
  • Is the house really suited to your needs? Will your voice be echoing in empty hallways, making you feel lonely? Will you be forever cleaning empty rooms?
  • If you want to keep the house "for the children", are you sure that keeping the house is really in their best interests? If finances are such that you're always struggling to make the mortgage payment (see #1 above!), are you really serving their best interests? If the maintenance is such that you're always consumed with household tasks and you don't have time to spend with your children, that's a consideration as well. If you later find that you cannot manage the home and either have to sell it or face foreclosure, the children's lives will be disrupted again. Does it make more sense to downsize now, given your circumstances?
  • If your home has equity, and you cannot or choose not to trade the equity against another asset (i.e., you take the equity in the house and your spouse takes another asset of equal value), can you pay your spouse his or her share of the equity in the house? Do you qualify for a refinance loan so that your spouse can be paid right away? Does a refinance loan make financial sense at this time, given interest rates and the cost of the refinance? If you can't pay your spouse his or her share of the equity right away, is he or she willing to wait? Are you able (and willing) to make provisions for a later payment which are reasonable? Can you build in reasonable security to make sure that the person who is assuming responsibility for the mortgage payments makes the payments as required?
  • Is the house a source of arguments between you and your spouse? Will either of you keeping the house cause so much resentment that it will be the source of ongoing and heightened conflict?
  • If you (or your spouse) keeps the house, and you have children, will the other parent be able to find reasonable living accommodations close enough to the house so that it's convenient for both to pick the children up and drop them off at home or school? Remember that the children will have friends and social events close by their school and neighborhood. A 20-mile commute each way will be tiring for everyone involved.
  • Is the market favorable right now for selling? Waiting 3 months may take you into a season in which people buy more actively (e.g., spring and summer). On the other hand, waiting a year may result in selling during a time of higher mortgage rates, when people will pay less for houses similar to those that sold the year before.
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