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Selling a property after divorce

Of the most stressful events that can occur in your life, selling a house and getting divorced rank very highly. But there are ways to mitigate the stress through careful planning.

It can be challenging for one spouse to reside in the marital home after the other has left, covering monthly outgoings of the house without the dual income, changing the names on the mortgage, and compensating the other partner by using the remaining assets.

The easier way is to split the returns from the sale of the jointly owned property and get a fresh start. If the outcome of your divorce is that you choose to sell the home, you will want to avoid the business of selling the becoming long winded.

Useful advice for divorcees who are selling a property

Make decisions together

Reach agreement with your partner on what price you need to get for the property for you both to be satisfied with your share. Don’t forget to include any extra charges that may crop up, for example legal fees.

You may have to be willing to accept a lower price for the property, in order to get a quicker sale, yet this may be acceptable if you can start the next chapter of your lives sooner. When listing your property with an estate agent, get your property valued by an independent surveyor, as knowing the value of your property will help you in bargaining with a prospective buyer. An independent valuation from a qualified professional can also help both partners feel self-assured when assessing assets while going through a divorce.

Search for a property solicitor with reasonable costs, who is competent and able to keep you up to date with the latest information during the conveyancing process. A majority of solicitors have online case tracking systems to allow you to keep updated with any changes on your case 24/7.

Protect your own interests

There are no guarantees the sale process will be fast or straightforward. If the property is not registered in your name, but you will continue to live there, then you should get a Notice of Home Rights from the Land Registry. This means you will be alerted if your spouse tries to sell the property without telling you. This will give you extra protection, although in most cases it won’t be needed.

Clear out the property

It may be the case that the property you are selling has already been vacated by one of you or both of you. This will make it easier to clear the space ready for viewing, with less clutter from personal belongings. Also, get a clearance company to move any unneeded possessions into storage to further depersonalise the space, and help you sort ownership of your possessions.

Get more tips on how to prepare a property for viewings in our guides.

Avoid mentioning divorce

It might be best to avoid mentioning to potential buyers that you are divorcing as they could be put off from buying the property. They will worry that they are negotiating the price with both of you individually, and that the chain becomes more complex if you are both looking for new homes to move into, and that all communication has to be duplicated and sent to each of you, or one of you may not be ready to move on yet. The buyer may also use your divorce as a way to negotiate a lower price than is reasonable, knowing that you are keen to move on to the next chapter of your life.

You should be truthful when asked directly whether you are divorcing, but have prepared answers to put the buyer’s mind at rest, telling them that you understand the delays that divorce can cause to the chain and that you are mitigating them, by moving into a rented property, or back with parents.

Work through the finances together

Keep a record of all the expenses associated with the sale of the property, and how you are going to share those costs between you. All the mortgage payments, taxes and bills that have been paid on the property during the sale should also be taken into account during any sharing of the proceeds from the house. You want the process to be fair to both of you, so remain friendly and businesslike, and keep all your documentation straightforward and clear about who bears each responsibility.

Look forward to a new start

It is demanding to sell a home, and going through a divorce at the same time will increase the difficulty of the experience. However, make sure to take time to think about the next step of your life, picking out a new property. Choose a new home that can give you a better beginning for your next chapter, that reflects the direction of your life, and leaves the sad memories behind. Make your own decisions on the location and type of property you want to live in, without compromise, and wait for your property to be sold so that you can take the next step.

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