Advice on Selling a House During Divorce in California

by | Jan 2, 2020

If you chose not to sell your house during the separation from your spouse, you may be regretting it now. As expensive as divorces are on their own when lawyers are handed the additional responsibility of dividing the family assets, the cost for their services goes up—and the money and time you have left for yourself go down. And this usually just compounds other stressors the family may be feeling, making it even harder to focus on what’s really important: ensuring that you all move on as quickly and as easily as possible.

Selling a house during a divorce in California isn’t an entirely simple process, but the stress is reduced when you try to do so amicably. California is a community property state. All assets gained during the marriage are owned by both parties and must be equitably divided. But it’s hard—sometimes impossible—to split non-liquid assets such as property. The ideal option is to liquidate that property as fast as possible and split the proceeds. This is also usually the best way to minimize any discord and move on with your lives as gracefully as possible.

Selling a House During a Divorce in California with Less Stress

Selling a house during a divorce in California is complicated by the state’s community property law, which makes most real estate an asset of the couple, rather than of one individual. Staying in the residence is rarely an option due to this shared ownership. On top of that, high California property costs make maintaining two households an unsustainable expense. Typically, the best way to dissolve a community property asset in California is to sell it and split the proceeds.

The ideal option is to liquidate that property as fast as possible and split the proceeds. This is also usually the best way to minimize any discord and move on with your lives as gracefully as possible.

If you can both get on the same page about selling your home, then all you have to do is figure out how. Luckily, the steps you have to make don’t differ all that much from having to sell a house for a job relocation or because you’re retiring and wanting to travel. What you will have to do is keep your emotions in check as best as you can, which is admittedly difficult when in the midst of a divorce. Do it successfully, however, and you’ve already removed the source of a lot of potential stress. Here’s what else you can do:

> Designate one of you to stay in the home.

As long as you or your spouse remains in the house through the duration of the sale, you can both keep your costs—and your stress levels—low. If each of you is paying on a new mortgage, while trying to stay current on the old one, your money and your patience are likely to take a significant dip. Plus, by having someone in the house, it continues to look and feel like a home—which is what prospective buyers want to experience when they’re searching for a place of their own.

> Hire professionals to help prepare your house to sell.

There is a lot to handle when preparing your house to sell. To help keep tensions at bay, consider hiring the pros. From cleaners and contractors to landscapers and movers, outsource as many tasks as you can comfortably afford. Having someone else repair the bathroom sink, paint the bedrooms, and mow the lawn removes the pressure of getting these things done. And since these professionals are experts in their fields, they’ll likely complete the work faster and do a much better job than any DIY method while under stress.

Obviously, this can be a costly endeavor during a divorce and can lead to some legal issues in California. You may need your spouse’s permission to make material changes. You’ll probably want a financial contribution from them too. At the very least, you’ll want to be able to negotiate a higher portion of the proceeds for the work you put in. Otherwise, you’ll need to find an as-is buyer who isn’t afraid of doing the work themselves, and that’s not always easy.

> Use a real estate agent to help you price and market the home.

Though it’s possible to sell your home without a REALTOR®, using a professional real estate agent will almost always prove to be a wise choice. First, they can help you price the home competitively, ensuring that the sale attracts buyers. They also have access to a variety of marketing tools and tactics that may boost the number of potential buyers who express an interest in your home. They’ll usually handle all the showings, too. Plus, as skilled negotiators, they will help you navigate the offers if and when they roll in.

Unfortunately, hiring an agent can also be expensive since most professional REALTORS® charge up to six percent in commissions. But unless you’re working directly with a buyer, someone will have to market the house or it simply won’t get sold.

> Put a positive spin on your selling story.

Honesty is always the best policy, even—and especially—when it comes to sharing important details about your home. If you’re selling a house with water damage, for example, you want buyers to know. Not disclosing a known truth could come back to bite you in a lawsuit later.

But that doesn’t mean potential buyers need to know every detail of your personal business. In fact, withholding some facts, like why you’re divorcing and who’s getting the kids, is actually more professional than letting all the details spill. You want your buyers to feel at ease, too. So, speaking only of the positive aspects of selling the home—like how you’ve always wanted to live on a boat—will likely go further in generating offers.

> Request competitive terms from buyers to help sell the home faster.

Since you’ll want the sale of your house to move along as quickly and as easily as possible, request that competitive terms be included in all offers. All-cash buyers who can take your house as-is and close in less than 30 days should rise to the top of your priority list. Of course, these buyers will usually be investors and, unfortunately, they don’t all have reputations for making fair cash offers on houses.

Still, a few bad apples should not spoil the bunch. There are teams of real estate investors who care as much about making you a good deal as they do about getting a good deal themselves. Some can even close in a matter of days and are willing to pay you in cash directly, which makes selling your house during a divorce in California so much easier. You can easily dissolve the property and split the proceeds without needing to invest in renovations.

There are teams of real estate investors who care as much about making you a good deal as they do about getting a good deal themselves.

To Move On Quickly, Sell Your Home Now

The homebuying specialists at Sell Your House Direct can help you move on by putting an all-cash, as-is offer on your home today. If you need to move fast—which is typically the case when selling a house during a divorce in California—they can help you do that, too, by closing in seven days or less.

But if you’re wondering whether you can get more for your house by performing repairs and hiring a real estate agent to put it on the market, SYHD can provide you with that information as well. As trusted real estate advisors who want what is best for their clients, they’ll give you a net sheet that outlines all of your options. This one-page document breaks down all of your potential costs and what you stand to earn depending on how, and to whom, you sell your home. That makes deciding how to sell the house during your divorce as stress-free as it can possibly get. Of course, it also means your lawyers may miss out on making a few extra bucks.

To get out from under your past quickly so that you can jumpstart your future now, contact us at SYHD. An all-cash, as-is offer on your old house is only a phone call away.
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