Print Posted by Tara Winslow on 07/14/2017

Divorce and the Marital Home: What Are Your Options?

Divorce and the Marital Home: What Are Your Options?

At my age, those in my circle face major life transitions such as divorce, job relocation, retirement, aging parents, parent deaths and children leaving the nest.  Each of these scenarios is uncomfortable and conjures up thoughts of helplessness and the need for a competent professional to help guide you down the right path.  Nothing may be as emotionally taxing as wondering if you are going stay or go and then to where or when.

One of three situations typically occur for most couples going through a divorce:

One Spouse Buys Out the Other and Keeps the Home

One consideration is whether there is no equity or negative equity.  Either of these issues would not allow the option of refinancing the home.  In this scenario, the party remaining on the title is at risk of negative credit reporting should the other spouse default.  But without the ability to refinance, both will remain on the loan.

One Spouse Keeps the House for a Specified Period 

One example of this, is when one parent stays in the home until the youngest child emancipates.  At that time, will you be in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market?  If in a buyer’s market then how much equity would you stand to lose?

The House Is Sold Immediately

In this scenario, any equity is divided in some fashion between the parties.  The payoff amount, any equity line or second mortgage and broker’s fees will need to be accounted for first.  Capital gains tax might also apply.

If the house is empty without either party living there, a trusted Realtor would recommend a stager to stage the main rooms. Staged homes receive a higher priced offer over vacant homes.  A couple of thousand dollars up front can often net you a solid return on your investment.

With each of these options, once the decision is made to sell, a detailed process is ahead.  When working with a trusted advisor, your Realtor, he/she will help support and direct you where your best efforts will be seen by the market of buyers. 

Additionally, the presence of both parties at the listing presentation and planning session is imperative, so both sides feel comfortable with the process and with who is working to sell their house and negotiate the best price.  You’ll both need to decide thngs like, what repairs and improvements are required to make the house a desirable house in today’s market?  Who will handle the calling to obtain quotes and meeting the maintenance man?  Will costs be split prior to closing or at closing and taken from the proceeds?  Will there be proceeds?

Ultimately, what is involved in hiring a competent Realtor?  We are all not created equal.  A competent Realtor will help you navigate through the process, sell your house for the highest amount the market will bear, be patient and understanding about the sensitive situation and must be a great communicator to both parties.  

As an established agent, we have a host of home improvement professionals, i.e., stagers, inspectors, painters, landscapers, appraisers, estate sales companies, etc., to prepare the home for market.  We will take as much of the burden off you as possible, so you can focus on your future. 


Here’s a recent example of the advantages of hiring a competent professional:

I represented one of the sellers who originally said the divorce was amicable.  They had agreed to sell the house prior to actually divorcing.  The ex-husband then said he wanted to buy the wife out.  After months of nothing happening, the ex-wife inadvertently found out he was re-financing the house and she had no idea how re-financing would affect her proceeds.  The long and short of it was that she hired me. 

Without hiring me, she could have walked away with little to none of the $90,000.00 in proceeds she ended up receiving.  Not using a competent Realtor, she would have taken a significant monetary loss on a house she had invested in. 

My client was also confident I was working in her best interests.  We have a fiduciary obligation to our client whether it is both spouses as a couple, or only one is being represented to protect his/her interest.  In each case, the client(s) must come first.

The best advice I can give, is to hire a competent and trusted Realtor as soon as you know you are headed for a divorce.  We will lay out a plan to optimize your net proceeds, while protecting your assets during a turbulent time.  We will also be happy to work with other professionals on your divorce team, as selling a home during divorce may include attorneys, therapists, financial advisors, mortgage brokers and more. 


Prior to following her passion in residential real estate, Tara spent twelve years in corporate America as a top Sales Executive at several Fortune 500 companies including The Coca-Cola Company, AT&T Business and PGi (formerly Premiere Global Services).  Tara has taken her progressive track record of high achievement and business acumen into her residential real estate business.  As a native Atlantan, she has vast insight in the Atlanta Real Estate Market.  Tara is committed to her clients and values long-term relationships.  Tara takes pride in her business and earns the trust of her clients who call on her for all kinds of housing advice.   A few of Tara’s accomplishments include:

  • As a top performer, she was 1 of 17 and 1 of 14, respectively, selected out of 385 agents to serve on the prestigious 2016 and 2017 Agent Leadership Council
  • Designation as a Senior Residential Specialist
  • Named one of the top Atlanta Realtors in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, March 2017 issue
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