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Aug 17, 2021

Selling the Marital Residence

Dividing Finances, Divorce and Finances, Divorce and the Home

For many couples in divorce, the marital residence is their largest asset. That means whatever decision is made with regard to its ultimate disposition in the divorce must be thoughtfully considered from every possible perspective. If the decision is made that it should be sold, then management of the sale is vitally important.

Debbie Schneider, Esquire, an Attorney Mediator at Alpha center for Divorce Mediation, talks with Georganne Ford about selling the marital residence.

The first step is to select a realtor. Sometimes my couples in mediation already know a realtor they want to use and, in some instances, it is the person who sold them the house. If they were satisfied with the service they received, it is often a great choice.

For most clients, they need to select a new realtor. My recommendation is that the couple select three realtors, and interview each of them together. The three realtors can be selected by word of mouth, neighborhood signage, or a formal referral. The ALPHA CENTER maintains a sizable directory of real estate professionals for our clients. There is a new specialty in real
estate in which the realtor caters to the needs of “divorcing couples” and that might be a wise choice. The couple should be completely honest in the interviews, telling the realtors that a divorce is underway and making it clear that the realtor must keep both of them in the communication loop.

Once selected, rely on your realtor for advice about the condition of the home, including an extensive discussion of any needed improvements. Often my clients sigh and say that they must declutter their home before they can do anything else. I urge them to consider hiring a professional service to help them. It can be money well spent, and for a couple who have often occupied their home for many years, the mere thought of decluttering can delay progress on the forward momentum of the sale.

With regard to the improvements, it is important to start with the improvements that qualify as capital improvements. A capital improvement is something that must be done to restore the property to its original condition, such as a replacing a worn-out roof, or a now defunct heating or cooling system. Cosmetic improvements can be important too and include painting, recarpeting or at least cleaning the existing carpets. What you do not want to do is spend money on an improvement that is not necessary; something that neither your realtor or a licensed home inspector might see as frivolous.

The Alpha Center has a professional services directory that contains many professionals, not only realtors, but painting contractors, renovation experts, personal property appraisal specialists, and all manner of helpful service providers to insure that your home sale is done with the utmost professionalism and will return the most equity to the divorcing couple.