Selling When it is a House Divided

Real Estate Agent with GreatWest Realty DRE# 00827565

It is no secret, nor is it unusual, for Real Estate Professionals to encounter clients selling homes, who often remind folks of the movie, "War of the Roses." 

Often the reason for selling involves divorcing couples looking to separate their lives, while also realizing living apart before the home is sold isn’t a financial reality.  If you are one of those couples, who must continue co-habiting until getting your house sold, there are things you can do to make life easier in the interim.

It is important to understand that staying together can actually have a positive effect on marketing your home.  Home Buyers can have a knack for sniffing out signs of Sellers in distress.  Seeing that a couple continues to be together in a home can remove a bit of the appearance of distress - even if it is painful for you!

If you are a divorcing couple and find yourself in forced cohabitation, until your home sells, there are a few things that you can do to make the experience a little easier.

1) The two of you should sit down and discuss your situation as peacefully as possible.  Perhaps putting yourselves into a mindset that you will continue as roommates for a few months until the house is sold.  You are together in the house in the physical sense - even though the emotional sense has changed. 

(2) Negotiate with each other the mortgage payments, utilities, and other household expenses, and address the duties for upkeep.  Doing this early on, will help alleviate problems from popping up, in the midst of this living arrangement, which weren't addressed early on. 

(3) If there are children in the home, please put the children and their well-being first and paramount in your consideration.  Doing so, will help you focus on things more important than your own discomfort.  If the children suffer less distress, it will be easier for all of you.

With a little thought and consideration, you can be successful in selling your home, and making what could be a bad situation work well, and to your benefit. 

Good Luck to you!


Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ginger Harper 06/13/2017 05:16 AM
  2. John Martelotti 06/14/2017 04:14 PM
  3. Dale Taylor 06/26/2017 07:49 PM
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Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Myrl,

This type of collaboration is rare & not often possible, because it would cause safety concern for one or more parties or possibly start the separation period over. That does not mean, you need to hang out the desparation flag or not agree on how to pay for things. Even if there is an agreement, not all parties honor it, so whoever is paying for stuff should keep good records, so they can dispute that amount at settlement. Occasionally, it is better to pay for things & get out of the situation with all of your life intact. Some people can get quite contentious. A colleague was once threatened with a sword. And that as an independent party.

Jun 13, 2017 07:39 PM #39
Stavrula "Sam" Crafa, RNC,GRI, CDPE, PSA
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL
Providing the integrity and service you deserve.

Divorse is difficult for a family but you give some good advise in your blog. It's a stressful time even under the best of circumstances. I've known a couple that have been going through a rather nasty divorce for over 5 years and will need to sell the house. Going to remember your suggestions for future reference. 

Jun 13, 2017 07:54 PM #40
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
RE/MAX Northwest. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

I have seen many friendships destroyed by an agent who just trys to do their job Myrl Jeffcoat 

Jun 13, 2017 09:37 PM #41
Nathan Gesner
American West Realty and Management - Cody, WY
Broker / Property Manager

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, Myrl Jeffcoat . Too many divorces are not amicable splits and the parties are too busy trying to hurt each other. You give good advice for the more sensible people.

Jun 14, 2017 05:05 AM #42
Lesley Wilson-VanGoethem
Innovative Realty Solutions Group - Winter Springs, FL
Residential Real Estate Broker Associate

We so often tell sellers " Do not make this house look like your home, depersonalize" ,,Yet with a divorce, seperation,transfer , we coach them to "make the house look like everything is normal in the home." Truth is,  I often encourage sellers to start boxing things up, stacked neatly in the garage as buyers will understand theyre moving.. Great strategy for divorce as well, ( even if theyre empty boxes)

Jun 14, 2017 05:18 AM #43
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Congratulations on your feature recognition. Thanks for sharing your experience and your advice.

Jun 14, 2017 05:41 AM #44
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

 Thanks for highlighting the issue of divorce and it's impact on the sale of a property.

I am not sure that it is important for the couple to cohabit to make sure of a sale.

I do agree that the appearance in the home should not give potential buyers a clue that a divorce is driving the sale of the house. I counsel these couples to at least have closets show that there is a couple in the home.

Since we prefer to show homes with the seller not present, and in divorce this may be even more important, the need to cohabit is reduced.

Thanks for your post.

Jun 14, 2017 06:04 AM #45
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Myrl

You've shared some really useful suggestions for those who might be in this situation. Thankfully I have never had to handle a transaction with a divorcing couple...yet.


Jun 14, 2017 06:51 AM #46
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Myrl,

Last year I got a call from one of my past clients only to discover that they decided to end their marriage and decided to sell their fabulous forever home. At first I was just shocked and then became aware that their relationship had turned into pure hatred for one another and open warfare with one another in front of their kids and even the neighbors. It was messy and something I would never want to experience again.  

Jun 14, 2017 08:32 PM #47
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Such a good post!  I wish sellers would take your advice if they are having marriage issues.  It's tough enough, let alone if there are children. i just finished the 3rd sale in a row that included divorcing couples, argh!

Jun 14, 2017 09:07 PM #48
Realty One Group Alliance - San Mateo, CA
Broker Associate & Licensed Architect

Very good Advice. Thanks for sharing this. 

Jun 14, 2017 11:45 PM #49
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Myrl Jeffcoat - This is a painfully sad situation to be in and it makes everyone uncomfortable. Bravo to how you handled this topic! Congratulations on getting it featured! Your advice is very positive and realistically necessary. I honestly don't believe anyone grows up saying, when I get married I want to get divorced.... stuff happens. 


Jun 15, 2017 04:53 AM #50
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I've never read a blog with this sensitive topic--you must have real world experience with this topic!  Very thoughtful, thanks.

Jun 15, 2017 03:57 PM #51
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Very well said, Myrl Jeffcoat!  It definitely takes kid-gloves to work with divorcing couples sometimes but, I love your advice!  

I recently had a couple who were divorcing that remained in the home so that buyers didn't know and it worked beautifully for them! They were not low-balled because no one knew they were divorcing.  The funny thing was, he was relinquishing his half to the wife and he had not real reason to stay but, he agreed to. Coaching definitely helps and you've laid out a great plan, Myrl!

Jun 15, 2017 05:14 PM #52
Pat Champion
Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty - Mount Dora, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Great post and excellent advice for any couple who is in this situation. Thanks for sharing I hope you have a great weekend.

Jun 16, 2017 11:09 AM #53
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

I've seen very few couples decide to cohabit until the house sells. Some do due to financial reasons but usually one will split and establish residency elsewhere. John Wiley made a great suggestion that clothes could be kept in both closets indicating a married couple lives there. Bottom line is the reason for selling should remain confidential. It's no-one's business whether it's a married couple, single person, etc. On a personal level, I most certainly agree that the children should be protected at all costs. If couples want to fight, so be it, but don't put your precious children in the middle of it. 

Jun 17, 2017 09:48 AM #54
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


It's a very challenging situation to successfully sell a home divided.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jun 17, 2017 08:09 PM #55
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Myrl -- like people, all divorce situations are not alike but you balanced approach to the topic is likely a comfort to those who are fortunate enought to work with you.   

Jun 20, 2017 07:21 AM #56
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Geneva Financial, Llc. - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Myrl Jeffcoat Unfortunately, when one of the spouses is not ready for the split, emotions can run out of control and as Forrest Gump said, "You never know what you are going to get in a box of chocolates." That is what we often run into as real estate agents

Jun 27, 2017 04:39 AM #57
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Excellent advice for those who are in a position and are willing to take it.  Many times couples do stay together because until the house sells, they cannot afford to maintain separate households.  If, however, one party moves out, leaving some things behind can help keep buyers from smelling "desperation" (especially when it may not actually exist). 

Jun 30, 2017 06:02 AM #58
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