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How to sell a house in a divorce

One of the options you have to deal with the house during divorce is to sell it and divide the proceeds.

If neither spouse wants to stay in the family home, or if neither can afford to buy out the other, you can put the property on the market and try to get the best possible price for it. Keep in mind that before the sales proceeds can be divided, you’ll have to pay off the mortgage, any equity line or second mortgage, and the brokers’ fees. You’ll also have to pay any capital gains tax that might apply. These expenses are one disadvantage of selling, especially if market conditions aren’t good for sellers. Another disadvantage is the need to uproot the kids when they're already adjusting to a lot of change.


But there are advantages, too. Both spouses get money to start over, and it may help you make a clean break.

Once you’ve decided to sell, you’ll be faced with a lengthy and detailed process that involves a number of projects. Each of these projects takes hard work in the best of times, and the emotional upheaval that comes with divorce doesn’t make them any easier.


There are a couple options in how you can sell your house in a divorce:

  1. Listing with a Realtor, which involves some work on your side as well:

Preparing to Show the House

Getting the house ready can be the most difficult part of the sale process. There’s often some work that needs to be done—minor repairs, painting, and the like—before the house is ready to be shown, so you need to agree on where the money for that will come from. If both of you have moved out by the time you put the house on the market, you can leave the place to be staged by the agent. If one of you is still living there, you’ll need to get things cleaned up, get the clutter out of the way, and probably remove some of the furniture. If this work falls mostly on one person, you might need to figure out a way to compensate that person for the extra effort.

Reviewing Offers

You’ll have to work together when it comes time to review offers from potential buyers, especially if you live in a place where the real estate market is volatile. Your agent can advise you, of course, but ultimately you’ll have to make the decision jointly.


2. Selling to a investor-cash buyer like Easy Outs Homes, which is the easier way, as you don't have to worry about cleaning, staging, fixing the house, or letting a large amount of strangers through your home. You also can settle on your timeline and avoid paying realtor's fees.

Advantages of Selling to a Real Estate Investor

A divorcing couple won’t have to spend much time cooperating when selling to a real estate investor. Investors handle all possible property-related problems themselves.

If you are going through a divorce, you may have put off making some needed home repairs. Real estate investors buy houses in any condition. When you sell to an investor, you don’t have to fix anything. An investor buys your house AS IS.

Selling the family home yourself or through a realtor can take weeks or even months. Investors do everything quickly. Typically, when you accept the investor’s offer, the closing will be completed in a few days.

Investors eliminate the middlemen—from the time you request a cash offer to the closing:

  • no dealing with a home inspector is necessary

  • no loan officer has to approve their financing

  • no contractors must be hired to do any repairs to the house

Investors also eliminate the time and money you would typically have to spend in a traditional real estate sale:

  • they settle all claims against the house and take care of the associated paperwork

  • they pay all the closing costs and complete any other paperwork related to the sale

Real estate investors buy homes with cash. After you meet with them, you will typically have a cash offer within 24 hours. And you won’t be surprised with any hidden fees at closing. You will get the cash you agreed to with no unexpected out of pocket costs.

Disadvantages of Selling to a Real Estate Investor

Because investors pay cash for houses in any condition, they must buy those houses at discounted prices. When you get a cash offer from an investor, all of their expenses for fixing up and reselling your home are factored into the offer. Consequently, their offer will be lower than the market value of the property.

Legitimate real estate investors buy properties at reduced prices and sell them for a profit. But not all investors are legitimate:

  • The investor may have no references—a likely indication of a scammer.

  • The investor may offer you a contract that they can walk away from, but one that you can’t get out of.

  • The investor may make an offer that is too close to the market price of your house, and then manipulate you into selling it for a lower price.

  • A foreign “investor” can say they are ready to buy a property without even visiting it, but in fact they need your personal information and money.

Advantages of Selling with a Realtor

The more exposure your house has to buyers, the more likely you are to get the best price. Only real estate agents have access to the multiple listing system (MLS), which gives the property the highest exposure to potential buyers.

The right agent supports you throughout the entire process. You have professional guidance available to help with decisions and fewer chances to get into arguments with your former spouse because the realtor does most of the work.

You do not have to negotiate a final sales price directly with a potential buyer. The realtor does that for you by working directly with the buyer or the buyer’s representative.

Disadvantages of Selling with a Realtor

An experienced agent will do a quick walk-through of your property—identifying any problems that would deter a buyer. If your house needs costly repairs, most realtors will ask you to make those repairs before they list the home.

One of the biggest problems of a traditional real estate sale is the time required. You have to wait for:

  • The realtor’s marketing to attract a buyer.

  • A buyer’s offer.

  • The buyer’s home inspection.

  • Contractors to fix any problems.

  • The title company’s search and the other closing details.

You must pay the realtor a commission at closing, as well as the commission for the buyer’s Realtor if they are using one. Although closing cost estimates are relatively accurate, it is quite common to be surprised with hidden fees.

A realtor will have to show your house to sell it. While necessary, showings disrupt family life—especially if you have small children. Most realtors like to have open houses for their listings.

While open houses can attract potential buyers, they can also attract thieves. If the realtor can’t sell your home before their contract ends, you may have to start the process all over again by hiring a different realtor.


3. Third option is to sell the house yourself.

You are not required to have a real estate license to sell your own house. But it’s the most difficult option because it requires so much of your time, energy, and money. With a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) sale, however, you have the potential to make the most money.

You don’t have to do everything yourself. You can hire a real estate agent to provide you with limited services. For a lower commission, some agents will help you set an asking price, advertise, and assist with other services.

Online marketing websites can also help you with marketing. For example, Facebook and Craigslist are free, while others advertise for a fee.

Advantages of Selling on Your Own

If you want to have control of every aspect of the sale, a FSBO sale can be the right choice. You can control every aspect of the marketing process:

  • You set the asking price.

  • You make the marketing choices.

  • You show the home.

  • You negotiate with the buyer or the buyer’s representative.

A FSBO sale can be quicker than a traditional sale, especially if you know any potential buyers. If you can find someone already interested in your property, you won’t have to spend any time or money marketing your house. You only need to negotiate a selling price with the buyer and work together with the buyer to get the deal closed as quickly as possible.

The 6% commission typically charged by a real estate agent takes a big bite out of your profit. You can save all of this money if you don’t use any of the services of a realtor. You save some of this commission even when hiring a realtor to help you with a few of the services that you don’t want to do yourself.

If you are an excellent salesperson, you may be able to negotiate a higher price with a potential buyer than the average realtor could.

Disadvantages of Selling on Your Own

Divorce adds significant stress to daily life. Adding the pressure of a FSBO sale could be overwhelming, especially if your ex-partner disagrees with you on some of the aspects of marketing and selling your property.

It is challenging to set a realistic asking price. To sell the house yourself, you must not discourage potential buyers with an amount that is too high. Your asking price must also not be so low that you discount your house unnecessarily.

Since you’re not using a realtor, you have to decide which of the house’s problems might discourage a potential buyer. Because of this, you could end up spending time and money fixing things that don’t matter to a typical buyer. On the other hand, by not fixing items that would deter a buyer, your house could sit for months without an offer.

A FSBO sale can take more time to get an offer than selling a house with a real estate agent, and especially than selling it to a property investor.

If the housing market is slow in your area, a realtor can sometimes net you more money than you could get with a FSBO sale.

After all said and done whatever way you choose to sell:

Dividing the Cash

Finally, you’ll have to figure out how to divide the proceeds. In general, that shouldn’t be too complex—the escrow company can distribute the money, after paying off all the obligations on the house and making whatever other payments you’ve agreed to. (For example, you might pay off marital debts with the proceeds of the house sale.) And if one spouse has been making postseparation mortgage payments, that spouse has probably been reducing the principle amount and increasing the equity, which may increase the amount to be divided between the spouses after the closing costs and obligations have been paid. The distribution should be adjusted to account for the paying spouse’s contribution.


We would like to provide you with the easier solution to sell your home in a divorce. Let us give you a fair no obligation cash offer. Simply submit your contact information and property address in the form, and we’ll have one of our awesome team members contact you about your home immediately. You deserve the best of service in your time of need and we would love for the opportunity to do that for you!

We buy houses from homeowners that need to sell houses in a divorce situation in Bel Air, Forest Hill, Fallston, Abingdon, Aberdeen, Edgewood, Belcamp, Churchville, Darlington and surrounding areas of Harford County, MD. You can either fill out our online form below or give us a call at: 443-347-3556 to find out how we can help you with selling your house while going through divorce today!

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