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Got an Agreement to Sell the Marital Home? The Devil is in the Details. Here are Ten Issues that Could Cause You to Wind Up Back in Court

Selling a marital home in a divorce is for some people a way to start with a clean slate, but getting there takes planning and cooperation. Sorting out all the details of your home’s sale in your divorce agreement can help you avoid costly delays and avoidable headaches. If you and your spouse are agreeing to sell your marital home make sure you consider the following:

  1. Who, if anyone, is staying in the home while it is on the market? Is that person responsible for the carrying costs or not? Can that person rent out all or part of the home? Who else can stay there?
  2. What are their special obligations for showing the home, i.e. making or keeping it presentable for showing or availability for showings?
  3. If no one is staying who is responsible for checking on the home or providing routine maintenance? Broken windows and unkempt lawns can stall a sale. And if no one is staying in the home while it is on the market which party is responsible for the carrying costs? The mortgage, taxes, insurance, dues or fees?
  4. If one person pays those costs how will they be compensated at the time of sale? Is there a time limit to their ability to pay the carrying costs? If so that might affect what asking price you set or what offers you are willing to accept.
  5. What if the home needs repairs before it can be sold who is responsible for arranging the repairs, paying for the repairs, or doing the repairs? How will they be reimbursed for their efforts or investment at the time of the sale?
  6. What about the costs directly related to the sale? This includes appraisal, the realtor, listing fees, closing fees, and doc stamps. Who is responsible for taxes related to the sale? Write it all out now to avoid litigating it later. When it comes to selling the home you should select your agent in the divorce agreement. Going back to the person who sold you the home is an easy way to avoid the stress of selecting someone new and avoiding accusations of favoritism. The same is true for an inspection. Go with the inspector you used to purchase the home. If they are not available let your agent choose for you.
  7. Outline how communication between the agent and the sellers should be conducted so no one is left in the dark. Perhaps all communication is done via email so everyone has a copy of everything that is being said. Or all phone calls should be immediately followed up with emails that fill the third party in on what was said.
  8. How will you decide on an asking price? Going with your agent’s suggestion both trusts their expertise and eliminates a potential conflict. If the home doesn’t sell within a specified time period will you or must you lower the price and if so, by how much? Before you enter your divorce agreement check with your chosen agent to see how long homes in your area and price point take to sell so you can plan accordingly and include those dates in the agreement.
  9. At what price do you agree to accept an offer and what do you do if there are competing offers either below or above the asking price?
  10. Make sure that once you decide to accept an offer everyone is required to sign within a certain period, for example five business days, to make sure the deal does not fall apart at the last minute.

And for those in South Florida or other parts of the country with wild weather: If there is a natural disaster while the house is on the market how will you approach preparations, repairs, or the insurance company?

For further information on how to approach your divorce the right way please contact the office of Chantale Suttle, top divorce attorney in Miami at (305) 371-7640.