Selling a house is a highly emotional and challenging aspect of our life. This process is also usually associated with a big change in our lives.
It’s even more challenging and stressful when that change means divorcing the person you once thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with. One of the biggest mistakes people do when selling their houses is to let themselves be emotionally affected by the overwhelming pain or grief that might be associated with selling the place they considered home.
This turmoil can push emotionally charged people into making hasty, unwanted and unprofitable decisions, which most of them might grow to deeply regret.
These are some of the most usual and undesirable decisions that divorcing people do when dealing with their properties:
Blindly signing over ownership - Before making hasty decisions, consider them carefully. Even though it might not look like it at first glance, signing over ownership does not necessarily mean you also sign over the mortgage.
Losing ownership while retaining the mortgage might be a very bad idea, one which many live to regret afterward.
Trying desperately to hold on to the house, even if you can’t afford it - The house is your home, and it naturally offers precious emotional security. However, if keeping the house is just an emotional decision and not a wise financial decision as well, you might want to take some time to reconsider.
If keeping the house means that you will be living in poverty, there is no reason for you to hold on to it.
Fighting over the house, even when the property holds zero equity - Even though it might seem like a trophy worth having, the households literally no financial value to you or your ex-spouse, if it holds no equity.
Spending too much money and time fighting over small, trivial things - Most divorcing spouses end up fighting tooth and nail for things like cupboards, chairs, decorative objects or an air conditioning machine.
While some of these things might be truly important to you, stop and consider: are they all really worth the money and trouble of packing, transporting and unpacking them in your new home?
Insisting on setting a too high or too low selling price for the house - Depending on your state of mind, overpricing the house or on the contrary, accepting a too low price just to hasten the process might seem tempting.
However, it is not. In order to sell, a house needs to have the correct price. If it is too low, you lose your hard earned equity, if it is too high, it will simply not sell. In order to list the house at the right market selling price, you might want to address a third, objective, professional party.
Thinking that it might be a good idea to stop making the house payments or maintaining the house - While your marriage might be ending, your life is not. Failing to make your monthly mortgage payments will negatively affect your credit while stopping to maintain the house, might cost you thousands of dollars in the final price of the house.
Remember, while you may be going through a very emotional and difficult time, the house still remains one of your biggest and most important investments. This transaction deserves your attention as well as your best game.
If you feel too affected by the period you are going through, consider hiring a divorce coach or a professional real estate agent specialized in getting you through this. Their professionalism and knowledge could save you thousands of dollars and prevent you from making big mistakes.
Hiring Professionals to Help Put Order into Chaos
As understandable as all the grief signs and stages of the divorce are, people should never let those aspects influence them into making financial decisions which they will later live to regret.
During a divorce, this response can be triggered by something as trivial as a heated argument, threats and/or fear of loss. Unfortunately, selling a house is a complex process heavily based on negotiation, a process during which neither instinct of flight/fight helps us.
When it comes to this, the most common and easy way of avoiding making costly mistakes is to hire a specialist that can help you avoid the most frequent mistakes and guide you through the emotional healing process. This way, the divorce implying any more financial costs that it really needs to.
Hiring a psychologist, a divorce coach and/or a financial expert help people identify and pin-point feelings as well as teach how to detach those emotions from more logic and financial decisions. Later on, this is the decision many divorcees wish they took.
Divorce attorneys, mediators, therapists, coaches, financial advisors; all offer services that can help people navigate the treacherous waters of these difficult times and come out of the divorce with as little damage as possible. A neutral, objective, professional, experienced opinion can greatly help put order into the emotional chaos.
It will also help the struggling divorcing couple make the soundest and smartest choices, especially when it comes to dividing assets and selling properties.
An expert counselor can help a divorcing couple hasten and simplify the process, all while taking the best possible, rational, financial choices to protect their equity, credit scores, and real estate finance investments.
Many choose to hire professional services only when the damage is already done, and they need help to fix it. Avoid making the same costly mistake, by hiring professionals at the beginning of the process. This decision might just be that which will save you great trouble and a considerable amount of money.
How to Best Cope with the Pain and Trauma
Selling our home is a highly emotional, challenging and sometimes traumatic process, no matter if the choice to do so is voluntary or forced on us by the circumstances.
We all feel pain when needing to let go of the place we loved and used to call home. Linking it with a powerful sense of security, love, and positive or bittersweet emotions, the home is usually the possession we’re not only most attached to, but also the thing we love most.
The moment the seller feels the full emotional impact of selling his/her home is when the first written offer is received. That offer makes the seller realize that it is all real.
Those who are experiencing more emotional turmoil than usual, are typically those who part ways with a property that has been in the family for more than one generation, those who are forced to sell following a death in the family and those who are facing difficult economic circumstances.
Selling a house following a divorce implies facing a wide and confusing area of emotions. While some will want to fight and keep the home at all costs in an attempt to retain the emotional security associated with the formal lifestyle, others might be overly ready to sell, move and escape from all the unhappiness they associate with it.
But no matter the reason behind the sell, we are all emotionally invested and affected, even those who are moving into a larger, fancier home located in a better neighborhood.
Here are a few tips on how to handle the emotions involved in selling your home in order to finalize a great sale, in spite of the emotional turmoil you are going through:
1.Try and pick a professional real estate agent that empathizes with your situation.
2.Remember that people look differently at objects. - The objects which you hold dear and which you have linked to over the years, might not represent much to the potential buyer. In this case, it’s a safe bet not to assume that the objects that are emotionally important to you will raise the overall value of the house.
3.Prepare the house for the sale. - This aspect usually requires painting the house walls in neutral colors like white, as well as depersonalizing the house of all your personal, emotionally charged objects. That will appeal to more potential buyers. It also enables the buyers to imagine themselves living in the house.
At the same time, it will make it easier for you to get through the selling process without having to face bittersweet memories and emotionally charged objects at every turn.
4.Try to keep in mind that the best memories are linked to the important people in your life, not to places. - That does not mean we don’t get emotionally attached.
A photo album holding pictures related to the best moments you enjoyed in that home, might make it easier to go through the selling process. After you sign the paper, a last visit to the neighbors might also reduce the grief and sadness you feel.
5.Think like a potential buyer would. - Remember the first time you walked in the house and what you were looking for when you fell in love with the property.
That should help give you a taste of the prospector’s point of view. It might also make it emotionally easier to bare.
Considering Your Children
Another emotionally difficult moment during a sale and a move is the children. When you have kids, their safety and happiness will always be your top priority.
That is why you will probably consider their well-being when deciding to sell the house and move. Moving is hard for your kids as they usually thrive on family stability and routine. If you feel that moving and cutting ties with your home is difficult for you, imagine how it might feel for your kids.
They often feel they are not part of the decision making process and sometimes aren’t even able to understand it. While the sell and move will be a difficult moment for both you and the kids, experts say that it’s best to try and avoid both too much and too little consideration on their behalf.
Try to stay balanced and clear-headed. For both your sake as well as theirs. Here are a few tips on how to best manage the emotional aspect of moving when it comes to your kids:
After dealing with a divorce, it is good to try and postpone the house sale for a while, in the attempt to give the kids time to adjust.
Discuss it with the kids. - The best way to prepare the kids for a move is to talk with them. Give them as much information as you consider fit, as soon as you can. Answer their questions and be receptive to their emotions, both good and bad.
Keep it positive. - During the selling and moving process, it is highly important to provide the kids with a highly positive and enthusiastic view of the situation you are going through.
Even if the move is basically out of your hands, try to present them with the excitement of a new start and all the positive aspects of it. Remember your children look at you for reassurance and balance.
Involve the kids as much as possible. - Discussing with the kids and involving them in the planning aspect, as well as in small things like packing or hunting for a new school, can make them feel excited.
Being a participant in the planning process and not just an observer will make them feel more confident and make the moving process seem easier and less forced.
Give them details and make it visual if you can. - In case of long-distance moves, try and see if you can convince your buyer agent to take a few photos of the new home and send them to you. Go on the internet and find out as many interesting aspects of the community, neighborhood and school as you can.
Talk to your kids about all these aspects and about all the new, exciting things which you will be able to enjoy there together.
Moving with toddlers and preschoolers - In this case, try to keep the explanations as clear and short as possible. For a better illustrative way of explaining, try to act it out with toy trucks, furniture, and toys. They will love the story and most likely be less stressed.
Remember to pack all their favorite toys and do not throw anything away. It is a great idea to take the furniture in the kid’s room and re-arrange it in a similar way in the new home. That will give comfort and safety to the kid. Remember to arrange for a babysitter during the moving day.
Moving with Teens - Moving with teens can be particularly challenging as they tend to rebel against it. Consider the fact that your child is going through a difficult period of his or her life and has probably invested a lot of effort and energy into being part of his or her social group.
The cause of the rebellion might also be the fact that they have romantic feelings for someone, or because they will be missing a long-awaited event like an exciting school trip or the prom. A good way to overcome that is by successive discussions.
It is highly important that you make sure that your teenager understands that you are hearing and respecting his/ her concerns and worries. Try to suggest that the move is a rehearsal for upcoming important moves in his/her life, like going away to college or changing homes for a better job.
The importance of putting effort into the days after the move - The day after the move is the moment when everything comes together. Try and arrange your kid’s room first and put everything in place before turning your attention to unpacking the rest of the things. A great aspect to help is maintaining routine as much as possible by keeping the same regular meals and bedtime schedule.
Be realistic with your expectations. Specialists usually estimate that kids usually need up to 6 weeks to start blending in and feeling comfortable. In order to help them set-in faster, encourage them to keep in touch with their old friends via phone and internet applications.
If you and your child are still having issues after this period of time, it might be a great idea to visit together a family therapist.
Try to benefit from this life change by bonding and learning more about each other. Difficulties and challenging moments are often that what brings families closer together after all.