By Stephanie Catcher – Realtor RE/Max Estate Centre Inc.
Selling your home during a separation or divorce can be challenging. Your home’s value can be negatively affected if the buyer finds out that you are parting ways and decides to offer less because of the perception that one or both sellers are highly motivated. The following are 8 steps you can take to avoid your divorce or separation affecting the value of your home.
1. Check your Closets – Buyers look in closets; so make sure that both spouses have clothing present in the master bedroom closets. The buyers’ Realtor knows who owns the home and will be looking for evidence that those listed homeowners have a presence in the house.
2. Keep your Guest Rooms as Guest Rooms – If you are both still living in the house but in separate rooms, make sure the guest rooms and guest bathrooms still look like they are reserved for guests. If one spouse is using a guest room as their main living space, make sure it is cleaned up daily (no personal belongings are left out). This is evidence that this space is used daily.
3. Keep Furniture in all Rooms of Your Home – If one spouse has moved out and takes furniture with them, make sure you are able to fill the space in your home with other furniture. A home with obvious holes in the furniture placement, can tell a Realtor that one spouse has moved out.
4. Keep your Bedding off the Couch – Even though one spouse may be sleeping on the couch, make sure that extra bedding is put away every day – not just neatly folded on or next to the couch. Nothing says separation or divorce more than someone sleeping on the couch. By making it a habit of putting the bedding away every day, you will always be ready for showings and not have to rush home to tidy up.
5. Be Honest with your Realtor – Make sure your Realtor knows your situation and that you do not want your motivation for the sale disclosed. Many buyers and other Realtors will ask your listing agent why you are moving and it is important to let your Realtor know what answers are acceptable and what to do if a neighbour asks if you are separating when they come to an open house.
6. Make Sure you are Never Home During a Showing – While it can be very inconvenient to be away from your home every time it is shown, it is important that you are not there to engage in any conversation with the potential buyers or their Realtor. They can often ask hard questions and it’s not easy to come up with the “right” answers on the spot, so avoid those situations by trying to be out of the home 10 minutes before a showing and arriving 10 minutes after a showing.
7. Keep your Poker Face During Negotiations – When its comes to negotiating the sale of your home, you may be in a situation where you, your listing agent and the buyer’s agent meet together to negotiate. This is another area where the buyer’s agent is going to be looking for motivation for the sale. Again, it is important to discuss acceptable responses with your listing agent ahead of time. If you have a disagreement with your spouse about what offer is acceptable, or the terms of that offer, make sure that this does not show while the buyer’s agent is there. Nothing reveals a possible separation like spouses arguing in front of everyone. The best thing to remember is to keep your poker face while the buyer’s agent is there and then discuss your issues in confidence with your listing agent as your agent is working for you and you only. If your conflict becomes emotional and result in tears, everyone can see this, so maybe excuse yourself from the conversation. It is not rude if you are unable to sit at the table to complete negotiations, your listing agent can brief you on what is happening. You do not need to be present for the entire time that the buyer’s agent is there.
8. Choose a Realtor who is Impartial – To avoid any further conflict both during the listing and the negotiation process, choosing a realtor who is impartial is best. Often one spouse may know a realtor personally and want to use that realtor due to the personal issues that can arise. However, using someone who is impartial is best and that person can look objectively at both spouses’ sides and be able to assist each spouse individually without any bias.
Stephanie Catcher is a Realtor specializing in residential sales in the Kitchener/Waterloo, Guelph and Cambridge area. Stephanie prides herself in providing her clients with friendly, patient, courteous and knowledgeable service and will work with you directly when buying your next home or selling your current home. If you have any questions, feel free to call Stephanie for a no obligation discussion about your Real Estate Needs.
Stephanie Catcher – Re/Max Real Estate Centre Inc. 720 Westmount Rd E, Kitchener, ON