One of the most productive ways to move forward with your life is to handle the sale of the family home in a businesslike manner. The house is usually the number one form of capital in a marriage and treating it as such is critical.
Experienced agents can smell a divorce when showing a property to their buyers, and they may capitalize on your tragedy by offering less money for your house. A real estate professional who focuses specifically on helping people going through divorce can help protect you by eliminating those tell-tale signs.
Staging Your Home for Sale During Divorce
It’s important to present the home in its best light. In some cases, such as my own, couples continue to live in the same home while going through the separation. In others, one of the parties moves out and takes some of the furniture with them making it look suspicious, or even worse… the home is vacant and potential buyers sniff out desperation.
Good staging takes away all suspicion. Here are some of my best staging tips!
Remove the Emotional Triggers
Without a doubt, staging the house will help you both disentangle emotionally from the property.
Once family photos, keepsakes and valuables are removed, it becomes easier to see the house as an investment instead of “our home”. This tip is important because it helps maintain the focus on the business side of the transaction.
Repairs and Touch-Ups
The showing condition of the house is very important. Often, in a divorced house, there is deferred maintenance where nobody has the energy or the money to fix things.
Almost every single home requires some repairs and sprucing up before it is ready for showings and paying for it can cause anxiety.
A company that I work with called Prep’n Sell handles everything you could imagine to prepare a house for sale. They cover the cost of renovations upfront and get paid on closing through your lawyer from the proceeds of the sale. Coming up with the cash to deal with preparing the house is no longer an issue and removes a huge stress factor from the divorcing couple.
Depersonalizing – Sort Of
Stagers will encourage you to depersonalize the home, particularly removing personal photos. Although I agree with this in theory, I feel that one family photo in the principal bedroom – particularly a wedding photo – keeps suspicions at bay when it comes to sniffing out motives for sale. It suggests a happy home.
This is crucial to demonstrate ample storage and space, but WHAT is in the closet is truly what matters here. Both spouses need to store their clothes neatly in the principal closet, including shoes and accessories, and shared personal items in the bathroom.
One spouse may be living in another part of the house, however you must share the main closet and bathroom demonstrating yourselves as cohabitating.
Appliances are often included in the sale price, so buyers will look inside. They must be clean as possible or it could demonstrate a lack of care or a stressful home.
Buyers look to see if the microwave and oven are clean. If the fridge contains very little food or just takeout boxes, buyers immediately inquire about the person living there. It’s an odd thing to think about but it happens all the time.
Long grass, weeds in the flower beds, dishevelled looking lawns, piles of garbage in the garage – all are indications of a neglected, unhappy home. Hiring a gardener to add flower urns, trim the grass, and pull the weeds is a fantastic way to remove the stress of added work, and it makes it easy for a buyer to imagine living there.
Removing the “Stuff”
Years and years of living in a home can creep up on anyone. In the situation of divorce, it can be exhausting to think about sorting through the bones of your life represented by the “stuff”, but it’s crucial to attempt this task prior to selling your home.
‘Mine to keep’, ‘yours to keep’, donate, trash. A junk removal company and donation drop offs can take the stress off your shoulders. Trust me, once you start this step, it gets easier and easier to part with the ‘stuff’!
From shining floors and gleaming windows to clean counters and scrubbed grout, every surface should sparkle. Change the filter in the furnace, add salt to the water softener, make sure that there is no clutter in the utility room. This is the easiest way to help your home be in the spotlight. This step is key!
A Furnished Lifestyle Sells
Buyers will flock to a home that is staged and looking pretty. Pictures say a thousand words and if two of the bedrooms are empty and the dining room furniture is missing, buyers will immediately guess what’s going on. A staged home is really selling a lifestyle and you want them to imagine themselves living in your home, even if it isn’t your furniture.
And a final note…
Review Offers Together
In a time where offers are emailed and we see very little face-to-face negotiations, I feel it is still important to show a united front when it comes to reviewing offers. Many agents still like to present their buyer’s offer in person, and if they see you both sitting across the table from them it sets the stage for negotiations and a willingness to work together. After all, it’s a business transaction. Set your differences aside for this one transaction so that you get the most amount of money to move on in your separate lives.
While selling your home and getting divorced can be challenging and emotional, you can get through it. Surround yourself with the best team possible and focus on the business side of things. In ten years, you probably won’t remember the things that made you lose your cool, but you will definitely remember the money you made on the sale of the house, and what you did with it to move on.
As a Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert (CDRETM), I can help you close this chapter of your life so that you can focus on the next one. Reach out to me anytime.