BEST SELLING OPTIONS IN A DIVORCE
Published by Authorify Publishing Copyright © 2019 Authorify Publishing
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. DISCLAIMER AND/OR LEGAL NOTICES: While all attempts have been made to verify information provided in this publication, neither the Author nor the Publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, or omissions. Any slights of people or organizations are unintentional. This publication is not intended for use as a source of legal or accounting advice. The Publisher wants to stress that the information contained herein may be subject to varying state and/ or local laws or regulations. The reader of this publication assumes responsibility for the use of these materials and information. Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, including advertising and all other aspects of doing business in the United States or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the reader. The Author and publisher assume no responsibility or liability whatsoever on behalf of any reader of these materials. If your property is currently listed with a Realtor, please disregard this notice. It is not our intention to solicit the offerings of other brokers. Printed in the United States of America
Table Of Contents
1. Moving On
2. Be Prepared
3. Marital Settlement Agreement
4. The 80/20 Rule
5. Relating The 80/20 Rule To Home Selling
6. Creating Curb Appeal
7. Staging With Purpose
8. Upgrade With ROI In Mind
9. The Three D's
10. How To Market Your Home
11. Common Seller Mistakes
12. Avoid Costly Mistakes
13. Finding Buyers
14. Be A Power Negotiator 101 15. The Dos And Don'ts Of Negotiating 109 16. Bargaining Chips 115 17. Serious Considerations 119 18. Ending Thoughts 123
When I first ventured into the real estate industry years ago, I did so with the hopes of helping sellers like you avoid the headaches often associated with the home-selling process. In my years of experience, not only have I helped alleviate the stress of selling for numerous clients, but I’ve also accumulated years of knowledge to help them get more money for their homes in the least amount of time. I decided to share all of my expertise in one place with potential clients. And that’s why you’re receiving this book. I want to help you have the best possible home-selling experience. And by that, I mean I want you to 1. Get the most money possible for your home, 2. Sell in the least amount of time, and 3. Avoid the headaches most commonly associated with the home-selling process. Think of this book as my gift to you. It contains insider advice on the home-selling process to help you achieve your ultimate real estate goals, including: • Secret strategies to sell your home for more money • Marketing techniques employed by top agents • Advice on how to appeal to today’s buyers • And much, much more If, after reading through it, you want to hire me to help you sell your home, I’d be more than happy to meet with you to discuss a specific plan to sell your home. Happy reading!
AGENT was raised in CITY with X siblings. As a child, AGENT had aspirations of being a OCCUPATION. Never in a million years did he think he’d stumble into the real estate industry, but you can’t always predict where or when you’ll discover what you’re meant to do in life. AGENT was taught at a young age that if you want something in life, you have to work for it. So that’s what he did. And he worked hard. As the years went by, AGENT worked his way from FIRST JOB to LATER JOB, never wavering in his resolve to become the best version of himself with each career move. AGENT got into the real estate industry X years ago when STORY ABOUT HOW YOU GOT INTO REAL ESTATE/WHY. He set out to LIST ASPIRATIONS FROM WHEN YOU STARTED OUT IN REAL ESTATE. As his career advanced, AGENT found his stride working with NICHE MARKET/SPECIFIC MARKET AREA/TYPE. He’s an expert in LIST AREAS OF EXPERTISE/SKILLS THAT SET YOU APART FROM OTHER AGENTS.
Throughout his career, AGENT has earned numerous accolades, including:
• LIST ACCOMPLISHMENTS • LIST SALES STATS ix
• ANY OTHER IMPRESSIVE INFO YOU’D LIKE TO INCLUDE
AGENT aims to provide the highest level of service to his clients and takes deep pride in helping them achieve their real estate goals. AGENT aims to provide the highest level of service to his clients and takes deep pride in helping them achieve their real estate goals.
Testimonials & Reviews for Agent Name
Here’s a list of people whom I have helped buy or sell a home, and what they said about working with me:
Agent-Name had a tough job, but she did it!
We were tough clients! We were moving to City and didn’t have a lot of time to look at houses, having to deal with our employer’s relocation, and all of the other challenges that came along. But, Agent-Name went above and beyond to help us. Even now, one year after the sale closed, I can still call her for business and service recommendations in the area — she knows just about everyone, and is very happy to help.
Agent-Name is the best agent in City!
I’ve used Agent-Name twice so far, and I was impressed both times. I bought my dream home with AGENT a year ago. She worked long and hard to find me the perfect home. And she just recently sold another property of mine. Everything went quickly and smoothly. Both of my real estate deals were done very quickly and professionally. Agent is honestly the BEST in her business. I would highly recommend her.
Agent-Name perseverance got me the house
My experience with Agent-Name during the entire home- buying process, from start to finish, has been nothing short of exceptional. I have a unique work structure, and because of this, it was very difficult to find mortgage lenders that would approve me for a home. I was very frustrated and on the verge of giving up, but Agent-Name insisted that we continue searching. Not only did we find a mortgage lender but also a mortgage that I felt great about. His perseverance is the reason I am now a homeowner. He is professional, punctual, knowledgeable, and very easy to work with. With the highest regard, I will recommend Agent-Name to all my friends and family.
Very attentive to concerns, details, and negotiations
Agent-Name helped me find a house by literally picking it out for me. Every house I wanted to go to, I got there and didn’t love it. Agent-Name was busy taking note of the likes and dislikes I was stating and said “I have a house that you’re going to love”.... AND I DID! I went back 4 or 5 times to show other members of my family, and she accommodated me without complaint. I was a first-time homebuyer, and she walked me through the steps of everything, gave me advice, and constantly followed up to make sure I was doing OK. With her help, I was able to close on the house early, right before I started my new job. I would recommend Agent-Name to EVERYONE, buying or selling. Agent-Name made it so so easy. She guided us through the entire process. She recommended great people to work with
every step of the way. She was available 24/7 to answer any questions we may have had. With her high standards, expertise in the industry, and patience, we would recommend her as a Realtor to anyone looking! She was amazing!
Agent-Name even advised me on how to prepare my house
Agent-Name was a gem. In addition to being highly knowledgeable about the real estate market, with many years of experience, he is a consummate professional. He was extremely easy to work with, gave me very good advice about preparing my house for sale and was very responsive during the entire process of receiving offers, selling and closing. I would work with him again in a heartbeat. He’s that good.
Agent-Name is the first agent I would call
Agent-Name and his team were able to rapidly list, show and sell my property. Being an expert in real estate, he was spot on in his pricing of my property and getting this deal completed. Overall, I highly recommend him and his team. If I want to buy real estate, AGENT would be the first person I’d call.
Agent-Name got us an offer in three days!
Agent-Name was the consummate professional during our stressful and difficult process. In the midst of juggling a ‘failed’ marketing effort with another agent, she presented a
well thought out plan and strategy to sell our home in short order. We needed to move quickly due to a growing family and another baby on the way. She helped alleviate that pressure by securing an acceptable offer with 3 days of listing. We put pressure on her, and she delivered. We couldn’t thank her enough.
Agent-Name kept us calm throughout the process!
Agent-Name always made herself available to answer questions. She worked hard to sell our home and find the best fit for our new home. She and her team worked with us through the entire process and kept us calm when we got anxious.
I am 100 percent satisfied!!
Agent-Name is professional and knowledgeable about everything. She is also always available. I would definitely recommend her to anyone. Very smooth transaction from start to finish. I felt confident with her experience.
Agent-Name found us our dream home
Agent-Name was very efficient and helped us find our dream home within a few short months. She was able to negotiate the price that we wanted for the house. Overall, I would look for her again to help us look for a house if need be in the future. Thank you so much!
Efficient communication and service
Agent-Name and his staff were very helpful in selling our condo. They kept me informed frequently with email, sending reports on showings, offers, and feedback from potential buyers. We are very satisfied.
Agent-Name will get your house sold fast!
Agent-Name is great and has the expertise to get your house sold. The communications throughout our sale (from beginning to end) has been outstanding. Agent-Name understands the stress involved in selling your house, and she updated our family consistently! This made us feel we were in good hands. I have worked with numerous agents, and I highly recommend her to represent you when it comes time to sell your home.
Excellent experience topped with a personal touch
Excellent experience all around, not only knowledgeable but Agent-Name and team have a very personal touch I felt like family throughout the entire process. He always took his time; we never felt rushed or like “just a number.” I sold my home and bought with him. We had lots of questions he gladly answered them with no problem and guided us through the entire process, eliminating lots of stress. I truly appreciate that and would recommend him and his team to family and friends.
CHAPTER 1 Moving On
Divorce is not easy. Even the most amicable separations are plagued with disappointment, lack of communication, and failed expectations. In the best case scenario, two people who are dissolving their union will work together to resolve their differences productively and part ways, hopefully without drawing blood. Unavoidably, though, during the process you and your spouse’s emotions will fall prey to a myriad of changes as the marriage, family, and shared assets are legally separated. Adding to the stress is the sale of the family home, which is typically the largest asset of the marriage. This can evoke tremendous emotion: sadness, anger, sentiment, and disappointment, to name a few. The combination of the stresses of the divorce with the sale of the family home requires patience, diligence, and great personal fortitude. With the help of seasoned, experienced professionals — such as attorneys and real estate agents — divorcing couples can successfully move through this challenging phase of their lives and on to their future. The phrase “and this, too, shall pass” has long been a source of comfort for many throughout history, including Abraham Lincoln, the English poet Edward Fitzgerald, and the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets. It’s a simple phrase, but one worth keeping in mind. No matter how bad
“it” gets, it will eventually pass. The divorce will become final. The house will sell. The children will adapt, and life will go on. This is where that personal fortitude will come in very handy. Decisions regarding the family home are not only emotional, but mired in legal maneuvers and decisions as well. Divorce laws vary from state to state, so your licensed legal counsel is your best source of information on how to protect both parties’ interests. Many questions arise when trying to sell your home during a divorce. What needs to be done to ensure a quick and profitable sale? Who will choose the Realtor®? When is the best time to list a home? Who bears the financial responsibilities of the sale? You can proactively allay your fears and clear up misconceptions by doing your due diligence and researching what to expect throughout the selling process. Every divorce has a unique set of circumstances. This book is not intended to be a legal guide or to dispense legal advice, but to provide you with a source of information regarding the sale of your marital real property. Becoming familiar with some real estate terminology and options will give you a better understanding of your situation and confidence that, indeed, “this too shall pass.” Some states are known as “community property” states and others are defined as “equitable distribution” states. Community property states follow the rule that all assets
acquired during the marriage are considered “community property.”
There are nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Alaska is an opt-in community property state that gives parties the option of making their property community property. The remaining 41 states follow the laws of equitable distribution, which means property acquired will be divided between the spouses in a fair and equitable manner. The court determines who receives what based upon a variety of factors, such as the relative earning contributions of the spouses. In community property states, on the other hand, all income and assets earned or acquired during the marriage are considered to be equally owned. This applies to all debts, no matter who created the liability. In a divorce action, these will be divided equally. In addition, there are mutual court orders that automatically protect marital properties. An automatic temporary restraining order prohibits spouses from selling, transferring, or borrowing against property when a divorce is filed. Again, any orders should be discussed with your attorney, as this protection varies from state to state. The family home is typically a couple’s most valuable joint asset and must often be sold in order to equally distribute its value between the two spouses. Therefore, it is vital for you to understand the relationship and difference between a
mortgage deed and a property title. Mortgages are conditional legal agreements made for the purpose of buying a property/home. The lender’s security interest is on record when the title is registered. The mortgagee (lender) may obtain a foreclosure order to take possession if payments of the debt are in default. A property title refers to ownership of that property and the right to use it. A person on the title can transfer ownership to another party but cannot transfer more than he or she owns. Some divorcing couples utilize a quitclaim deed, which transfers ownership from one spouse to another, but it does not transfer financial responsibility. One spouse may transfer title of the home to the other and consider him or her free from the financial responsibility of the mortgage payment, but this is not the case. The loan payments are the responsibility of the parties on the mortgage. In order to change the names on the mortgage, one spouse must obtain financing with which to buy out the other. All discussions regarding mortgages, quitclaim deeds, and title of property should be conducted with your legal adviser. The intent of this book is to provide information regarding the sale of your home within the framework of a divorce; it is not intended to provide legal counsel or advice.
CHAPTER 2 Be Prepared
Step one in successfully handling the disposition of the family home in a divorce is to have a clear understanding of your financial standing. Knowing your precise financial situation throughout the emotional turmoil of divorce will keep you from making snap decisions that could severely impact your financial position. It is crucial to know who bears legal financial responsibility for making the mortgage payments. If both spouses are listed on the mortgage agreement, they are equally obligated to the lender, whether or not their name is listed on the property title. Removing a party from a property title does not relieve the financial obligation of that party. Two signatures on the mortgage means two responsible parties. This also includes the homeowner’s insurance policy. It is important to know who is the beneficiary and if both parties are insured. For the previously stated reasons, it is critical that you collect and immediately provide all information regarding your home insurance, property taxes and liens, mortgage and marital debts, and marital assets to your lawyer. The more prepared you are to face your financial future, the more secure you will be moving forward. Knowing where every dollar has to go will help you make better decisions and avoid adding undue additional stress to the already
uncertain future that accompanies divorce.
Knowing where you stand financially greatly influences your decision to keep, sell, or buy out the family home. There are many considerations for each option and they all require a significant amount of due diligence, financial planning, and difficult decisions. Affordability and objective forethought are the keys to your decision-making process. Poor decisions can affect you and your former spouse long after the divorce is finalized.
KEEPING THE HOUSE
When divorcing couples have school-age children, they often decide to allow one spouse to remain in the home to avoid disrupting the children’s routine, school attendance, and social relationships. This can be accomplished with written agreements between the spouses. Equitably allocating home expenses and mortgage payments by percentages or mutually agreeing on the delegation of financial responsibility will allow your family to focus on what matters most: the children. A clear-cut, signed agreement drawn up by a mediator will help avoid contention surrounding responsibility for the maintenance, expenses, and future sale of the family home, whether it be to the spouse who remains in residence or an outside buyer. This is why it is important to know your financial position and how much each spouse can contribute. If one spouse fails to make their share of
payments, it can negatively affect both parties’ credit ratings and complicate the later sale of the home. If each spouse has provided appropriate evidence that they have sufficient resources to maintain this type of arrangement and is willing to participate in the agreement, this may be the right path. Some couples choose to reside in the home as roommates for different reasons. It might be that neither spouse is able to afford both their share of the home and a new residence or it could be to decrease the abruptness and difficulty of the children’s transition. If, later, one leaves, that person will have increased financial obligations in finding a new place to live, so give serious thought before choosing this option. Be aware, though, that some spouses are tied to the home, not only by their children, but by their own emotional investment. The house represents stability and a happier time and provides shelter from the trauma of divorce. In keeping it, they may feel more in control of their situation. Some may think that keeping the home makes them the “winner” despite the financial hardship it can bring. It is difficult enough to deal with divorce without later learning that unforeseen or unbudgeted expenses have crept in and taken a big bite of an already tight budget. Be realistic about what is affordable.
SELLING THE HOUSE
For most couples going through a divorce, selling the house is the best solution. Selling a home under any circumstances
takes a great deal of time and effort, so the addition of the emotional stress of divorce can make the task overwhelming.
The termination of a marriage requires the division of real property. Marital property belongs to both parties regardless of whose name is on the title, and each party is entitled to their equitable share. Some couples have a legal agreement beforehand, which provides a simple solution to property division. Some couples are able to use mediation to divide assets, but others are unsuccessful in negotiating equitable terms and must turn to the courts to rule on the division of their real property. Again, this book is in no way a substitute for professional legal advice. Always consult your attorney regarding the division of real property. Many couples enter into a mortgage based upon the expectation of a two-salary income that generates enough money to cover the monthly mortgage payment, upkeep, utilities, and unexpected repair. It may be that neither spouse is in a financial position to singularly carry the full financial burden, and may not be in a position to buy out the other. Preventing default on the mortgage is the most common reason divorcing couples choose to sell the family home. Monies budgeted for the upkeep of the home, property taxes, home insurance, home security, and house payments may or may not still be available when couples split. Couples who sell their homes before divorce have the advantage of the capital gains tax exclusion of $500,000. A
divorced person selling a home receives 50% of the tax break. There are other tax benefits available when substantial equity growth has occurred over years of owning a home. These are best discussed with your lawyer or tax professional to ensure you make financially sound decisions about when to sell your home.
THE EMOTIONAL SIDE OF SELLING YOUR HOME
If the marital home has been the hub of happiness and family life, it may turn out to be a constant reminder of what it once was and is no more. The good memories the home represents are now tainted by the unhappiness and pain of divorce. No matter how strong sentimental value may be, often the best option is to sell the house and move on. That way, both spouses get some money to make a clean break and start fresh. Once you’ve decided to sell, there is a long “to-do” list, a list that is difficult under the best of circumstances and only made more difficult with the added emotion of divorce.
The liability of keeping a home may be the best reason to sell. There are various ways to keep a house with one spouse remaining and the other departing, but they all carry risks and challenges. An equity buyout occurs when one spouse keeps the asset, and, in exchange, compensates the other for his or her share of the equity.
If one spouse is in a financial position to remain in the home, it may be easier to buy out the other’s share of the property, which would entail refinancing the home. The real challenges come in working out the details. There could be disagreement about the selling price or the appraisal value. Or, the equitable division of the property may not meet expectations. Other questions that arise include the possibility of giving up marital property rights in exchange for other assets like investments. The ex-spouse may lose out on future appreciation of the house. It is crucial to know that questions like these will arise when it comes to the division of property in a buyout situation and that you have to be prepared to address them. Refinancing the home in one spouse’s name means not only settling the previous loan but paying the selling spouse their portion of the buyout. As an example, if the principal balance owed is $100,000 and there’s another $100,000 in equity, one-half of the equity ($50,000) would be due the selling spouse and $100,000 would be required to pay off the principal. The refinanced loan would have to be at least $150,000. If the house value has appreciated, who is entitled to the equity? What if the property is appraised lower than the current loan? All scenarios must be considered before deciding on a buyout. Again, knowing your financial standing before filing for a divorce is paramount.
If you or your spouse want to keep the house and buy out the other, but need time before this can be accomplished, co-ownership is a possibility. However, maintaining a clear channel of communication with the ex-spouse is a major part of co-ownership and one of the most difficult to achieve because it requires a lot of mutual trust, something that is typically lacking in most divorce scenarios. The goal is to move forward, so any concessions made between the spouses benefit not only both parties, but especially the kids. Maintaining a civil, business-like relationship in front of your children will help them maintain stability and keep them from moving away from their home when they’re already adjusting to a lot of change. If one of the spouses can occupy the home with the children and make the mortgage payments until they can manage a buyout and become the sole owner, it’s a win-win. The drawback to this type of arrangement is the negative consequences if the spouse in residence defaults on mortgage payments. Both parties are still responsible, and missed payments will affect both spouse’s credit scores. Moving forward with a new life can be tricky in a co- ownership agreement because consistent communication is necessary, and that isn’t always (or even usually) easy for divorced couples. House payments, insurance premiums, utilities, and necessary repairs are guaranteed financial obligations. What if the utilities are shut off due to nonpayment? What if the home heating and air- conditioning system terminally fails? What if you moved two hours away and your ex-wife needs you to help with a
fallen tree because she can’t afford to pay someone to dispose of it? What if the resident spouse has to move out because s/he cannot afford to stay? What if the resident ex- spouse files bankruptcy and risks losing the house? These are all very real possibilities. Co-ownership must be considered carefully, and a knowledgeable attorney dedicated to protecting your family’s well-being will be your best source for guidance on the complexities that may arise. An agreement can be created to address all the obligations mentioned previously and protect both parties at the same time. No matter the option you choose, the mortgage must still be paid. Selling is the only alternative if neither of the spouses can afford the home on a single income. A short sale is possible if the home is going into foreclosure. You can come to an agreement with your lender to sell the home for less than is owed. Divorcing couples with good credit may find more favor with their mortgagee to obtain permission for a short sale. Walking away from your home and mortgage is not tolerated by the courts. The lender will add to the complications of your divorce by taking legal action to receive the remaining balance. You can find yourself in court if you or your spouse is uncooperative or is demonstrating an obstructionist attitude, which will cost more time and more money. Many divorcing couples end up using up what equity they had in
their marital property on legal and court fees. Refusing to sign papers to sell the home or refusing to help pay for the mortgage will give a judge no other option than to order the home sold, on the court’s terms. When a divorce action is filed, an automatic temporary restraining order can be issued to prevent spouses from selling or borrowing against marital property. Discuss this option with your lawyer to make sure your stake in the marital property is protected. Less than one-third of divorces end up in court due to disagreements over property division, but if you’re in that unfortunate one- third, going to trial doubles the cost of the divorce. An average divorce costs $11,000 if settled out of court. That amount will at least double if you have to go to court for resolution, which will take a serious bite out of your home’s equity. Many divorcing couples who want to limit legal fees as much as possible, as well as the time it takes to settle, choose to sell their home. Surveys show that couples who resolved their property issues without court intervention completed the divorce in under a year. Those who could not agree and went to trial had to wait an average of 15 to 16 months. Some states require divorces to be resolved within a year, but dockets are full in most states, which causes long wait times for a divorce trial. While you’re waiting for the trial date, the mortgage still has to be paid, as well as utilities, insurance, and property taxes.
The upcoming chapters will expand upon the benefits of
marital agreements that help sell the home, the importance of having realistic expectations regarding the value of your home, and how choosing a Realtor® who has experience working with divorcing couples may be your greatest asset in the sale of your home.
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