Getting Divorced? What you need to know BEFORE you list!

In 2014, after 20 years of marriage, we decided that it was time for us to get divorced.  It was the most difficult year of my life.  Emotional ups and downs, fear of not knowing what the future would bring, worries of how amicable we would be, what would be the best for the kids and on and on.  And the most difficult part....  we were over extended on our home and property taxes, and we couldn't afford to have one of us move out.  So during that year, and even AFTER our divorce was final, we lived together.  In the same house.  Waiting waiting for it to sell.  It took months.  Because of this experience, and knowing how difficult the divorce process can be, and sometimes how time sensitive and absolutely necessary it is that we sell the house quickly, I absolutely love helping my clients through this difficult time in their lives.  Partly, because I've been there.  And no one truly understands the divorce process like someone who lived it recently.  And also, because I know that there is hope and happiness and love on the other side of that journey.  I want my clients to feel that and to know that I am here to support them both through this journey.  What I went through in trying to get my house sold in 2014 is 100% why I came up with the best, and most involved marketing plan for my listings and my clients.  There was nothing more frustrating than hearing, "I'm blasting it out over thousands of websites!"  That statement equates to:  I put it on the MLS, and the automated system is doing its thing while I sit here and wait for a commission.   Don't make the mistake of listing with a friend who is such a nice guy, and then be completely stuck in a contract that you are desperate to get out of!  (That has happened so many times, people frustrated that they didn't sign up with me to begin with!)   When you are getting divorced, many days, you absolutely cannot and do not have the luxury to sit back and wait for the darn house to sell itself across the MLS.  You need to feel like your agent is ACTIVELY on your side and MARKETING the heck out of your home, because dang it that thing needs to sell so you both can start over, and begin to heal.

My advice for selling during a divorce, is First, to tell me you are getting divorced.  The number one question I hear buyers ask is:  "Why are they selling?"  Code for, is there something wrong with this house, or this property?  Many times hearing, they are getting divorced is a relief to the buyer, because it has nothing to do with the state of the property.

Second, Gather information. 

There’s some information that prospective purchasers will be interested in and curious about, even if they don’t come out and say so. I recommend you gather all this information and put it together in a notebook so that we can go over it in our initial meeting.  You should have the following information in your notebook:

  • Copies of property tax payments and/or condominium fees for the last year
  • Loan balance, loan account number, monthly payment, interest rate, and terms of assumption, if any
  • List of personal property that will stay with the house (for example, ceiling fans, window treatments, lawn tractor, etc.), and a list of personal property that will not stay with the house.
  • Bylaws of any homeowners’ association or condominium association to which you belong
  • Description of any unresolved defects (talk to your real estate agent about what you will eventually be required to disclose, and disclose it now). If you have a problem you know about and don’t intend to correct, such as a settling foundation or a damp basement, you might as well come clean about it, because most likely it will come up in the inspection.
  • Utility bills for the last year (preferably with a summary list of the amounts)
  • List of all the energy efficiency features your house includes, such as a variable speed or mini-split heat pump, double pane windows, extra insulation, and passive solar design, together with any information you have about the utility savings from these changes.
  • List of security features your house includes, such as deadbolt locks, security system, and changes in landscaping.
  • List of other features about your house that you consider appealing, such as built-in appliances, extra closets, whirlpool, hardwood floors, etc. Before you post this list, though, make sure your real estate agent looks it over. That innovative laundry room design you developed may seem quirky and just plain weird to the rest of the world; and it may be best not to call attention to it.
  • Description of the landscaping around the house, and the recommendations for its proper care.
  • Description of any warranties still in effect for your house or any equipment that will stay with it.
  • Termite inspection certificate or bond.
  • Floor plan if you have it.
  • Survey if you have it.
  • Title insurance policy.
  • Professional appraisal of your property if you have it.
  • Map of the area around your house showing the location of your house in relation to schools, shopping, transportation, and parks.
  • If your neighborhood is strong and stable, talk a little about it. Mention how many families have people at home during the day, how many children of what ages live nearby, etc. Avoid specifics about neighbors, though. Almost no one appreciates having their name, address, or family circumstances provided to strangers.

I know how difficult this is, and how much we need to get the house sold quickly.  Give me a call today and I'll come sit down with you to discuss how I can help you through this journey.

Heather McClelland
Clark Real Estate Group

I am happy to serve all of the DFW and surrounding areas as a Licenced Texas Realtor, specializing in helping divorcing couples sell their homes and find new ones throughout Weatherford, Aledo, Springtown, Fort Worth, Keller, Aledo, Mineral Wells, Poolville, Peaster Granbury, Willow Park, Hudson Oaks, Walsh Ranch, Annetta, Cleburne, Stephenville, Lipan, Santo and more.