What Happens to a Home in a Divorce?

There are many considerations a divorcing couple must make if they own real property (their home, a house that is rented, raw land, etc.) and it was purchased during their marriage. Often times the parties will agree to list the property for sale. If one party would like to keep the property and the parties agree, the other party may buy him or her out of their interest in the property. If the parties cannot reach an agreement regarding what to do with a property, a judge will order the house sold if the property is community in nature (joint). In some rare cases a judge may order a delayed sale if a child is in the home and it would serve the child's best interests to delay a sale.

In any case, if a home is going to be listed for sale the parties must agree upon a real estate agent. Although this may seem simple, it can be quite an issue of contention. Oftentimes the parties think they each know a better agent for the task than the other. A common solution is an agreement that one of the parties will provide the names of three potential real estate agents to the other and then the other party may research them and select one. Many real estate agents will reduce their commission percentage to make themselves the most attractive choice. This may result in both parties saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars in commission fees.

Aside from the commission percentage mentioned above, however, there are other important considerations when selecting an appropriate real estate agent for a divorcing couple.

"An agent should constantly monitor the multiple listing services and be aware of their particular market," informs Michelle Wright, a prominent realtor in Marco Island, Florida. Wright explains that both parties need to truly believe in the agent to be happy. She states that a great real estate agent will do all the necessary legwork, understand both parties' needs and be alert to their necessary time frames. Wright states, "I think it is vital to have an agent who is truly interested in achieving their client's goals and who has the time and gumption to follow through to properly market a home". She adds that if a divorcing couple is interviewing possible agents, they should make sure that the agent is: listening to and grasping their objectives; evaluating the reality of those objectives; reiterating the parties' objectives clearly to ensure open communication; and able to prepare a plan that the parties understand and are comfortable with to market the property. If a proper agent is selected both parties may end up happy. This makes the divorce process less stressful.

Contact an attorney at Claery & Hammond, LLP if you have questions regarding the impact a divorce may have on jointly-owned real property, the sale of a home or a delayed sale of a house.