Trying to remain in the family home with one partner leaving can be very difficult - transferring mortgages, finding enough assets to even out the value in the divorce, and even being able to afford the monthly costs of the home on your own.
Sometimes the simplest way to start afresh is to sell the property you own together and divide the proceeds between you. So, if you have decided to sell your house as part of your divorce settlement, the last thing you will want is to have a long and drawn-out selling process ahead of you.
Here are our 6 top tips to sell your property due to divorce.
Define your priorities - together
Try to work out with your spouse how much you can accept for the property so that both parties will be in a comfortable enough financial situation to move on. Remember to factor in your legal costs as well to avoid any expensive surprises.
Prepare yourself for the possibility that to get a faster sale, you may have to accept a lower offer, although you might find this is worth it in the long run so that you can begin to build your new lives. A surveyor will be able to give you an independent and unbiased valuation of your property; having an idea of this would help you when negotiating with buyers and estate agents and protect you from accepting any offer that is just too low. It's also a good idea when going through divorce proceedings and assigning assets - you can both feel comfortable that you have had an independent expert opinion, not someone who is taking sides.
Shop around for quotes to find a good conveyancing solicitor who you feel is efficient and will keep you informed at every stage of the selling process. Many solicitors now have on-line case tracking systems which will help keep you up to date at any time of day or night.
The selling process is not always easy, or quick. If you are still living in the property, and it is not in your name, it is worth getting in touch with Land Registry to get a Notice of Home Rights. This will mean your ex-partner will not be able to sell the property without alerting you. Hopefully, this wouldn't be necessary, but it's important to protect yourself.
Clear it out
One or both of you may have already moved out of the home you're selling. If this is the case, then it may be easier for you to ‘dress’ the property for viewing, as you can de-personalise the space more easily than you could if you still had all your belongings there. Hiring a removal company to put your non-essential items into storage could be helpful at this time, and it could also help you to review and separate your possessions.
Our guide to staging your home can give you more tips on how to dress your property for viewings.
Don't mention divorce
Buying from a divorcing couple can put some buyers off, so it's best to keep quiet about it unles you're asked. They know that the chain technically doubles, if you are both trying to find new places to live, and often there are complications, with communication between the ex-partners slowing down the process, one person being resistant to moving on, or disagreements over price. It also can put you at a disadvantage - if potential sellers know you are divorcing, they will assume you are eager to move out and get on with your life as soon as possible - they may offer a lower than reasonable price, knowing you're likely to accept just to move on.
If the potential buyer asks, you shouldn't lie, but do what you can to lessen the risk - for example, by one or both parties in the divorce moving in with family or into rented accommodation to break the chain - and reassure the potential buyer that you're doing what you can to avoid it being an issue.
Work out the finances
Bear in mind all of the costs associated with selling your home, and how those are going to be split between you. If you have continued paying bills and the mortgage since separating, but before the sale goes through, then this has to be taken into account when the proceeds from the house are split. Try to remain detached, amicable and straightforward - you both want the best deal possible from selling your home, so keep records organised and be clear about who does what when it comes to selling the house.
Embrace new beginnings
Selling your home and getting divorced are known to be the two most stressful things you can go through. Yet, it's important to pause and look forward to the next stage - picking a new home. Whilst leaving behind memories can be sad, choosing a home that reflects your tastes and needs can be a great fresh start. Try to enjoy considering different types of homes, in different areas based solely on what you
want - revel in not having to compromise in your choices, and know that the sooner your property is sold for a decent price, the sooner you can move on.
Updated April 2020