How to handle a house in a divorce

A separation or divorce involves more than just emotional and personal pain. Unfortunately, the repercussions are many, and they also affect everything that has to do with property, such as an apartment or a house.

If you’re going through this very difficult stage in your life, there are a few things you should know about selling a home after a divorce or separation. Our Joliette realtors tell you a little more.

Selling a home due to separation or divorce

There’s a real legal difference between common-law spouses and married people. The rights are not the same.

If you’re in a common-law relationship

If when everything was going well in love, you thought about signing an undivided agreement that specifies from the beginning who will be entitled to what, it will be simpler. Otherwise, the partner who owns the house is the one who can decide what happens to it. In the case of co-ownership, you’re going to have to talk things over.

Selling a house when divorced is simpler

In comparison, during a divorce, selling a house can be more simplified, as divorce laws provide a legal framework for the division of matrimonial property. In many cases, the courts will order the sale of the house and the equitable division of the proceeds between the spouses.

However, even in divorce cases, problems can arise if the spouses cannot agree on issues such as the sale price, the terms of the sale or the division of the proceeds…

Separation and selling the house: when there’s disagreement

The psychology induced by the sale of a house arouses many emotions, particularly negative ones: stress, fear, anxiety, doubt… All emotions multiplied tenfold when added to the sad stage of a separation from a loved one.

However, a real estate transaction remains a successful one if all parties know how to keep a cool head. If disagreements arise between you and your ex-spouse, we can only advise you to communicate, once again.

It’s important to discuss your options and priorities to find a solution that works for both of you. You need to know how much your home is worth, how much you owe on your mortgage and how much it will cost you to sell. The best solution is to carry out a real estate appraisal.

In this video, RE/MAX Guillaume Tremblay tells you more about the ambiguous situation he often finds himself in when it comes to selling a home.

(It’s in French, but you can activite the subtitles! 😊)

There are different options available when it comes to our house management

The house is generally considered to be common property. This means that it must be sold and the proceeds divided between the spouses according to the provisions of their marriage contract or divorce decree.

You have several options when divorce or separation occurs.

  • Sell the house if each spouse wishes to go his or her own way;
  • One spouse buys out the other’s share;
  • Sign an assumption agreement through a mortgage assumption.

Plusieurs options sont possibles dans le cadre d'une séparation, notamment le rachat de la part du conjoint.

How to buy out the spouse’s share of the house?

If one spouse wishes to keep the house, they’ll need to buy out the other spouse’s share. They will need to obtain a mortgage or use other financial resources to cover the cost of their ex-spouse’s share.

This is the chosen outcome when one spouse wants to separate but doesn’t want to leave their home. This will therefore first require:

  • A real estate appraisal, so that you and your ex-spouse are in sync on the net value of your property. For everything to go smoothly, you need to be on the same calculation basis.
  • Usually, the assumption is 50/50, but your share may be higher or lower than that of your ex-spouse. You therefore need to agree on the percentage of your respective shares.
  • Next, you need to manage the mortgage. Do you intend to terminate it, even if it means incurring penalties, or do you wish to transfer it by means of an assumption agreement? These decisions will have an impact on the final amount you receive.

How do I calculate my share of a house if I break up in Quebec?

If one spouse buys out the other’s share, here’s how it works: you want to assess the net value of the property and divide it by 2.

So, from the assessed market value of the property, we subtract the debts, i.e. any penalties and the balance of the mortgage.

  • Market value – debts (mortgage, penalties) = net value of the home

Once you’ve obtained this net value, divide it by 2.

  • Home equity ÷ 2 = amount of a share

How to sell a house when separated

For a smooth sale of your home after a separation, you and your former partner need to reach agreement on all the important details, including:

  • The division of costs associated with the transaction, such as the real estate broker’s commission, mortgage discharge fees and updates to the certificate of location.
  • How the proceeds of the sale will be divided between the two of you.
  • The terms of the sale, such as the asking price and the date of transfer of ownership.
  • Who will cover the ongoing expenses of the property until the sale is completed.

Once you’ve found common ground on these points, you can put your house up for sale.

What happens next will depend on your decision to sell with or without a realtor.

If your house is for sale because of a divorce and it’s urgent

  1. Carry out a real estate appraisal and research the prices of similar homes in your area to set a competitive and attractive price for potential buyers.
  2. Prepare your house for sale by carrying out minor repairs. Give it a fresh lick of paint if necessary, and make sure the house is clean and tidy for viewings.
  3. Highlight the house’s attractive features, such as a beautiful garden, a modern kitchen, or a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood.
  4. Use all available marketing channels, including real estate websites, social networks, and real estate agents to publicize the sale of the house.
  5. Take high-quality photos that highlight the best aspects of the home to grab the attention of potential buyers.
  6. Be flexible in arranging viewings, even at unconventional times, to maximize opportunities for interested buyers.
  7. The role of a realtor who’s experienced and competent is to help you make the most of the selling process and reach a wide audience of potential buyers. Consider contacting one.
  8. Try to keep your emotions aside during the selling process and focus on the goal of selling the house as quickly as possible.
  9. Be prepared to negotiate the price with potential buyers, especially if you need to sell quickly.
  10. Selling a home can take time, especially in difficult circumstances such as a divorce. Stay patient and positive, and don’t hesitate to ask for help and support if necessary.

Faites appel à un courtier si vous traversez une telle épreuve.

We’ll help you if you need to sell your home because of a divorce or a separation

The real advice we can give you, other than using a broker to facilitate the steps of the transaction, is to communicate with your spouse. That’s where it all starts. If you want things to go as smoothly as possible, make sure that communication works, at least one last time.

Guillaume Tremblay and his team of realtors in Lanaudiere know just how much the emotional demands of a divorce or separation can interfere with daily life, and slow down your sales efforts. That’s why we advised you earlier on to use a real estate broker: they are perfectly equipped to deal with this problem and relieve you of it, so that you can focus on what’s most important: you, and what you need.

If you’re in the Lanaudiere region, we’d be delighted to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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