For many couples, their home is their single most valuable asset. How you and your STBX decide to handle the division of this asset will have a profound impact on the rest of your life. That’s why Real Estate Divorce Specialist, Joan Rogliano says a competent Realtor is a critical member of your Professional Support Team.
I absolutely endorse Joan’s team approach. Before you even start thinking about whether you should sell or keep the marital home, you need to understand who holds what legal rights to it. That may not be straightforward if say your STBX owned the house before you were married. Referrals from friends is a great way to find an attorney and before you meet with one, it’s a good idea to check the firm’s website. Any decent, reputable law firm should have a site like the Weinberger Law Group and you’ll be able to access a ton of information specific to the laws in your state which will will help you start to identify your issues and concerns.
Here’s Joan with more on how a Real Estate Divorce Specialist can help you:
Divorce is a word that brings discomfort to many people. It can also be a word that connects us. Most everyone knows someone who has been through a divorce, so ironically it can be a great conversation starter and create an immediate bond between people.
I’ve gone through a divorce, and I’m also a Real Estate Divorce Specialist. So, professionally I’ve worked with many clients experiencing this life changing transition. I know how scary and confusing it can be. Most people say they “didn’t know the extent of what they didn’t know.” That is until the dust settles, it’s over, and reality sets in. Then the cold facts hit that if solid informed decisions weren’t made it is unlikely they can be reversed. At the very least to reverse these decisions takes a huge emotional and financial toll.
The best plan is to have a plan, as divorce becomes a business transaction in many respects. The conclusion I’ve come to after many years is that it takes a team of professionals to be sure the right decisions are made the first time. Not just any professionals, but those who will truly advocate for you, make this process about you and your family, and stick to their areas of expertise.
Most families recognize they need some level of legal guidance, so a legal professional takes a spot on the team. Others should include a Realtor, financial planner, tax specialist and perhaps a counselor or therapist.
With the divorce rate stable at fifty percent and home ownership at sixty-two percent, there are a lot of families who need professional guidance as they navigate what to do with their home. For most people their home is the largest asset they own, so the decision must be carefully thought out and analyzed. Now more than ever a full time local Realtor must provide professional guidance. This is not the time to take the real estate advice of family, friends or other professionals. While your legal adviser or family member who lives in another state means well, real estate still remains local, particularly with our mercurial national market.
When choosing a real estate professional it is imperative to work with a Realtor who listens. Many times I have been called to list a home only to find when I arrive, that one party doesn’t want to sell. Frequently divorcing couples are led to believe there are no options; the marital home has to be sold to wipe the slate clean so everyone can move on. Before the process moves forward options must be explored with a trusted loan originator. Families must ensure all avenues are investigated regarding refinancing the home to see if that is truly a viable option. As the choice to stay in the home usually comes from an emotional place, the short and long term financial and tax consequences also must be discussed.
Be aware it is a fallacy that one party can Quit Claim their ownership in the home to the other, and thus be relieved of the debt on the home. A Realtor usually is the only team member to explain that even with a Quit Claim Deed both parties remain on the loan. No one is ever just automatically removed from a mortgage. Not handled correctly this creates huge problems for families in their financial picture and requires further action.
Another common occurrence these days is the possibility of facing a short sale or foreclosure of the home. These are specialized fields and the process can be quite challenging. Seek out a referral to a Realtor who concentrates on these transactions and ask for specific references. In this highly emotionally charged time this professional alone can provide assurance and a clear path of what to expect in this type of transaction.
A Realtor can also help avoid common pitfalls should one party stay in the home and the other party be responsible for making the mortgage payments. Regardless of a court order stating that the responsible party will continue to make the payments, all too often I have seen this end with disastrous results.
If the person remaining in the home is not on the loan the lender legally may not divulge any information regarding that loan. They can’t call and ask if the payments are current so they remain in the dark. The disaster occurs when, unbeknownst to the family in the home, payments have not been made, the home goes into foreclosure with the family members now homeless.
The sale of the marital home is not an isolated decision. There are short and long term financial, emotional and tax consequences. A Realtor, preferably one who specializes in divorce, can offer the best guidance regarding the marital home. They must understand that they will work in tandem with other professionals for the best customized outcome.
The goal should be a client that has their individual needs met and is making informed decisions from a knowledgeable place. Teamwork is the winning formula.
I agree with Joan one hundred percent that what happens to the marital home needs to be approached as a business decision. I have several realtor friends and when I listen to them chat about market conditions, rental options and trends, I know just how important it would be to have a brainstorming session with one. If you do decide to sell your home, you and your STBX will have to agree on a Realtor but in the beginning, I would recommend you both seeking independent advice. That way you’ll know what’s in your best interests.
Joan Rogliano lives in the Denver area and has practiced real estate for 25 years. Her work with divorcing families led to the creation of the Wildflower Women’s Foundation to provide financial and community support. Please visit her at Rogliano Real Estate.
Photo credit: Images_of_Money (Flickr)