The dissolution of a marriage is never easy, and it’s not just the emotional impact that divorcing couples should be prepared for. In many cases, selling a shared property—and determining how to split the profits—is one of the most frustrating aspects of parting ways. While achieving a smooth resolution (and embarking on a fresh start) is almost always the goal, the logistics of doing so can be overwhelming.

If you’re preparing to sell your home during your divorce, it’s important to have a selling strategy. Here’s what you need to know to ensure that your sale is as smooth and successful as possible…

What is the matrimonial home?

When it comes to the division of property, understanding the law is crucial. One of the most important legal concepts to grasp is that of the “matrimonial home.” According to the Ontario Family Law Act, a matrimonial home is “[e]very property in which a person has an interest that is, or if the spouses have separated, was at the time of separation ordinarily occupied by the person and his or her spouse as their family residence.” Many different kinds of properties—from suburban bungalows to cottages to houseboats—can fit the definition above. The general requirements is that a married couple frequently occupied the home together leading up to the time when they separated.

Knowing what constitutes your matrimonial home is important because you and your former partner have rights and protections related to it. First off, both spouses have an equal right to possess the property unless the court decides otherwise. In certain circumstances (like when it’s in the best interest of a child), one person may be granted exclusive possession—which means they are entitled to occupy the home, and their spouse is not. Crucially, neither party can mortgage or sell the matrimonial home without permission from the other. That said, a court order can mandate that the property be sold, and that one party be put in control of the sale.

Find the right agent

Assuming that you and the person you’re separating from will both be in charge of selling your home, there are a few potential routes you can take. Ideally, you should work as a team to reduce the stress involved—and help ensure a profitable outcome. If working closely with one another isn’t an option, consider using two agents from the same brokerage.

Whether you hire an agent to represent your individual or shared interests, choosing the right professional is key. As much as possible, you want to eliminate barriers to a successful sale. A real estate agent who’s fair, objective, and level-headed can help you maintain your focus and reach your selling goals. One of the best ways to find someone who fits these criteria is by asking the right questions during the interview stage.

First off, look for a professional who’s worked with divorcing couples before. If they have prior relevant experience, they’ll likely be equipped to deal with the emotions you may encounter during the process. You should also get a sense of how they’ll deal with potential disagreements. Consider asking about a time when they helped a client work through a conflict in the past.

Last but not least, don’t forget about the general qualities that make a great agent. These include pricing expertise, neighbourhood knowledge, negotiation skills, and a proven track record of success (among others.)

Discuss the important issues

When you’re selling a home with your former partner, communication is crucial. You may have productive discussions face-to-face, or decide to talk to one another through agents and lawyers. Either way, it’s usually in the best interests of both parties to make selling decisions without the court’s involvement.

Consider what kind of home preparations need to be completed before you can put your home on the market. Who will pay the necessary costs? If you’re both contributing, how much are you willing to pay for upgrades and repairs? You’ll also need to discuss setting an appropriate price, and how you’ll split your cash once your sale is completed.

After your home starts generating interest, you’ll need to prepare for viewings, review any offers you receive, and enter negotiations. At each of these steps, you must coordinate and reach a consensus with your former partner.

Selling a home during a divorce can be time-consuming and (in many cases) emotionally-draining. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to simplify the process. Know your rights, work with your spouse whenever possible, and find a qualified agent who can offer you sound advice along the way.

Looking to invest with King West real estate agents? For over 30 years, our clients have trusted us to minimize risk, offer unbiased opinions, and ensure their best interests are served. Contact us today to talk about your needs, by emailing us at evan@christensengroup.ca or calling us at 416-441-2888 ext. 772.

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