I’d love it if every one of my columns could be about the rosy side of home ownership. But the reality is that a fair number of my clients will, at one point or another, face the unhappy prospect of divorce. In my role as an Ottawa realtor, there are several ways I can help them get through this painful time.
While a lawyer is the go-to expert on legal matters, I like to make sure that my clients have taken stock of their financial resources and weighed every option before deciding whether to sell or to stay. Unless you’ve got a pre-nuptial agreement, the value of your home will be equally split between you and your partner. While one partner sometimes refinances the existing mortgage, most of my divorcing clients agree to sell the matrimonial home and find individual residences.
It can be tempting to install that For Sale sign right away, but taking the time to find a realtor who is responsive to your needs will ultimately lessen your stress level. The right realtor will provide valuable insights on choosing a next home, given your change in circumstances. When the breakup is particularly angry or awkward, your realtor should feel comfortable mediating between you and your ex-partner during the selling process. And finally, a great realtor will guide you to a skilled professional stager.
Staging your home for sale is always important, but never more so than when you’re selling because of divorce. It’s a fact that buyers will pick up on subtle signs of a house divided; either they’ll be turned off altogether, or they’ll treat it as an invitation for rock-bottom bids.
With that in mind, do your best to reveal nothing about your estrangement. There’s no need to hang a giant wedding photo above the bed – but do maintain the bedroom as though it’s a shared space. If possible, clothing from both partners should hang in the closets; if one partner is using a spare bedroom, it should appear to be a welcoming space for guests. Naturally, legal papers should always be kept in a safe, secure place.
As your surroundings become more neutral, and your emotionally-loaded personal items are boxed up, you’ll find it easier to begin planning for the next stage of your life. Have faith: your home, sweet home is out there.
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