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Property and Divorce: Can a Realtor Help?

First of all talk to your attorney, this is my best advice. Despite the fact that divorce is an emotional roller coaster, the process demands a reasoned and rational approach to the disposition of shared real property. This is especially true when there are outstanding loans that obligate each individual. Remember the loan clause regarding each spouse being equally and severally liable for the entire debt? If both spouses had originally signed for the mortgage and one one spouse is going to keep the property, it is of paramount importance that the other meets his or her obligation before signing over ownership interest. It may be necessary to refinance the mortgage so that the other spouse can be paid off. Besides determining who should buy the other person out you must negotiate the division of property and assets. But even before this takes place, you need to know your share of the equity. Therefore you must evaluate the worth of the house, subtract the outstanding mortgage balance and then calculate your share of what remains.

Selling shared property in a divorce

If both parties are selling the property, then you'll need a complete understanding of what, if any, improvements will be needed for the sale and what they'll cost. Both parties, or their executed power of attorney, must sign the sales document, disclosure documents, sales contract and settlement statement, as well as any deficiency in a negative equity situation. Remember, too, the timing of the divorce and property sale needs to be considered so that each spouse gets all available tax benefits.

Do divorcing couples need a Realtor?

After all, both individuals will have their own attorneys. Well, an experienced Realtor can facilitate cooperation between divorcing couples and their respective attorneys. Besides reducing overall stress levels, the Realtor provides a neutral, independent professional assessment free of any prejudice. And, in my experience, when every issue goes to the attorneys for a solution, expenses and delays rise dramatically. Let the Realtor pre-qualify potential buyers, assist in setting the price, advise as to preparing the house for sale, prepare the marketing proposal, show the property, execute the purchase agreement and close the deal. Jim Ferriman jferriman@spencerhughes.com 603-520-5385
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