“I just hope I get to keep the house.” When it comes to the divorce settlement and your house, if you’re having this thought you’re not alone. I get it. I felt the same way 12 years ago when I was newly separated. Today, I still live in my same house. You can’t drag me out of here!
But if you’re the one who wants the house in your divorce settlement, how do you know what a really fair price is? Of course you can have a real estate agent come over and give you a number—a fair market value (what the house is worth today), but according to Leslie Glazier, a Chicago based real estate agent for @properties, there is so much more you can do to make sure you are “paying” a fair price to stay in your home. Things like, get an inspection so no surprises come up in the future that might cost you a lot of money, or take a look at the big financial picture so you know what your life will be like 5 years from now, 10 years from now, even 20 years from now if you stay in the home.
Keeping the house isn’t always the best solution. The best solution is making sure you are taken care of emotionally and financially, and of course, that the kids’ best interests are always at heart. If that means keeping the house, that’s wonderful! But if you do end up staying in your home, don’t you want to have peace of mind knowing it won’t hurt your lifestyle financially?
These are the issues that Glazier, who is also a Certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist can help you with. In the business for over 20 years and having personally gone through a divorce, Leslie, who works with clients in Chicago and in the burbs, can provide valuable insight and knowledge in the real estate transactional part of your divorce. Oh, and she doesn’t charge more for it!
Here is Glazier’s article:
3 Real Estate Tips To Ensure Your Financial Safety After Divorce
By Leslie Glazier
Even under the best, most amicable circumstances, divorce can be a complicated and stressful experience for both spouses. Sharing your life with another person almost always means sharing possessions and property, and it can be incredibly difficult to divvy up everything in a way that feels fair on both sides.
For most married couples, the most valuable shared asset is their home. And while there’s no one, right way to determine what’s done with the property in a divorce settlement, there are several helpful guidelines that can help you decide which path to take: sell your home or transition to sole ownership.
Your divorce attorney will be able to shed some light on this area of the divorce negotiations, but you may want to consider working with an experienced real estate agent who is also a certified Real Estate Collaboration Specialist in Divorce (RCS-D). We bring a unique perspective that takes into account both real estate and divorce laws simultaneously.
As a certified RCS-D myself, here are my top three tips for navigating a divorce with shared property:
1. Know Your Finances in Detail
It is a bad idea to even begin to discuss your options and your wishes for your home if you don’t have a complete picture of the total combined finances. Many important questions need to be answered before the couple’s emotions and desires can be addressed. For example:
How much is left on your mortgage?
What is the minimum monthly payment?
What other monthly expenses are associated with the home?
Is the mortgage in both spouses’ names?
Have either of you ever remortgaged the home?
Are there any liens in one or both names?
To be frank, your feelings about what you want to happen may be irrelevant after you get the answer to these questions. So, don’t get caught up in making plans before finding out everything you need to know about the financial status of your home and your spouse first. On a positive note, you might end up being relieved if it turns out that the financial picture is rosier than you thought. You just may discover that you have several, attractive options available to you.
2. Assess as If You Were Selling
Regardless of whether you would like to sell the home or not, it’s important to proceed as if you were going to put it on the market. That means getting an appraisal, inspection and assessment done. Why? Because this will help reveal the market value of the property as well as the current condition of the home.
Let’s say that your home has a market value of $700K because it’s a big, beautiful house in an amazing neighborhood with great schools. When an inspector digs deeper, however, it’s revealed that you have a mold problem, a sinking foundation and a roof that’s near the end of its life. Well, that certainly changes things, doesn’t it? Now, the value must reflect all of the necessary work that must be put into the home. Most people fail to take this into account and could find out much later that there is a big expense they didn’t anticipate.
3. Remember, It’s a Business Decision
Emotions can be very strong and persuasive when it comes to the fate of a home you love. And while that’s totally understandable, it’s important to try to take your feelings out of the equation. It may sound like a cold and callous approach, but it’s the right mindset when it comes to planning your financial future.
Let’s put it this way – no home is worth more than your wellbeing.
It’s OK to say that you want to find a way to keep your home on your own, but it’s not OK to be willing to do so at all costs. If it’s not a good decision on paper, then it’s not a good decision and you might not realize it at the time, but you might be so thankful later that you made a smart financial decision that could impact the quality of your life and the life of your kids.
As you can see, dealing with shared real estate in a divorce is not simple, and there’s a whole lot to consider before making any choices. That’s why many couples find it helpful to have an unbiased, third party to facilitate the process.
A Real Estate Divorce Specialist doesn’t represent either spouse, so they’re better positioned to give advice that’s best for the home and both parties. At the end of the day, the best thing you can is to make the decision with both eyes open.
Leslie Glazier is an @Properties Top 100 Broker in Chicago with 20 years of experience in the industry. She’s known for the personable and knowledgeable service she brings to both buyers and sellers in the real estate market. In addition to her real estate expertise, Leslie is also an Accredited Home Stager and a certified real estate divorce specialist, helping clients navigate the process of dissolving a marriage that involves shared property. To learn more, visit Leslie’s website.