RiverLife Real Estate


Top Tips for Selling a Home During a Divorce or Separation

As we head into the Holiday Season, many people look forward to spending quality time with family and friends. But Christmas time can also exacerbate family problems and stresses.

This time of year is especially tough on failing marriages and partnerships. It’s not surprising that January has historically been the busiest time of year for divorce lawyers. Couples on the verge of separation often hold out through Christmas for the sake of the kids and the extended family.

The New Year is a time when many resolve to make a fresh start and get out from under a crumbling marriage. Once you have committed to this, one of the biggest decisions is selling the shared home.

When do you list? How much do you list it for? Who moves out? How much of the sale do I get for my next place? When do I get it? Tough questions, especially if you and your ex are not communicating amicably.

We understand this. You’ll have more than enough life details to iron out – we don’t want the process of selling the home to be an added burden. So, we’d like to offer a few tips on how to sell your home during a divorce, with minimal confrontation, so both parties can move on with their lives.

– Get a separation agreement signed before you list your property. This is a big job and takes time, patience and even compromise to complete. Your lawyer won’t be able to pay out the sale proceeds, which will be held in their trust account, until you have a written agreement in place. Spell everything out in detail beforehand so that the sales process goes smoothly.

–  In Alberta, if only one name is on the land title, the spouse has to sign additional documentation agreeing to sell the property (this is called Dower Rights). Your Realtor can walk you through this process.

– Strongly consider having both parties move out of the house and have it professionally staged. Not only does it show better in general but it will remove any questions potential buyers may have if it feels like the house is half-full of furniture.

– You may not feel like doing it yourself, so hire out tasks like paint touch-ups, carpet steaming or lawn clean-up that are needed prior to listing your house for it to show its best. Keep the receipts and split the costs. If one party doesn’t want to pay up front, you can use it to negotiate how the proceeds of the sale are divided once the money comes in.

– Price your house to sell without giving it away. Every dollar counts when you are splitting assets but it doesn’t help anyone move forward when the house is overpriced and one party refuses to accept a price reduction. Many months on the market can make for added time and stress in the divorce process.

– If only one party is living in the house, spread your clothes and shoes throughout the closet so they look intentionally hung and placed. Use matching wood hangars and supplement with nice shoe boxes or luggage pieces if the closet looks too empty.

– Remove all personal photographs from the house and replace with neutral art pieces and mirrors. Supplement your furniture with items rented from a staging company or bought second-hand from Kijiji if need be.

– Hire Realtors that are compassionate and work hard toward the common goal. Be available and keep communications lines open with them. If you and your ex aren’t speaking, both Amie and I make sure both parties are equally informed. We use a collaborative yet confidential approach to help everyone move on.

We wish everyone Peace, Love and Joy this Christmas holiday season – especially to those who may have lost loved ones this year or are dealing with an impending separation. And if you do need any confidential advice, we can discuss with you and/or refer you to one of the excellent family lawyers in our network.



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