Selling a Home While Staying Under the Same Roof and Divorcing!

Real Estate Agent with GreatWest Realty DRE# 00827565

It is no secret among real estate professionals that divorce is a prominent cause for homes coming to market. However, we also know the situation doesn't need to lead up to a real life “War of the Roses!”

Occasionally divorcing couples who are separating their lives, find they cannot afford to live apart until after their home is sold. 

It is also important to understand that staying together can actually have a positive effect on marketing your home.  Home Buyers have become quite sophisticated in recent years, and 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 couple who is divorcing, and find yourself in a forced cohabitation situation, before your home sells, there are things you can do to make the experience a little comfortable.

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. 

Comments (29)

George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Myrl divorce involves conflict, but it is in every ones interest to cooperate as much as possible.

Apr 11, 2019 11:46 AM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

In all of my sales, and I should mention I have sold 909 homes over the last 15 years, do you believe it? I don't know how many I sold before then, but I never knew this # before and to pull it out of MLS last week for something. Blows me away, but in all of those sales, I never had people live together who were getting divorced.

I did encounter one couple who said they were getting divorced and by the time I sent over the professional photographer, they decided not to.

Apr 11, 2019 04:23 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Myrl, Thanks for this blog as it is one that we all run into and need advice.  Can I reblog it something.


Apr 11, 2019 04:28 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

William Feela - You're lucky!  I have actually had better luck with the couples that stayed under the same roof, than a few that separated while marketing their homes.  Some of those have been contentious! 

George Souto - I agree.  It is in everyone's best interest to be as cooperative as possible.  

Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1% - You may not have known whether they were divorcing.  I know of one agent who didn't know his sellers were divorcing until they went to closing.  It was then the couple instructed the escrow officer to cut two separate checks. 

Will Hamm - Feel free to reblog as you wish!

Apr 11, 2019 07:32 PM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%

Well, that could be, Myrl. I don't get that involved in my client's personal lives. Too focused on accomplishing their goals, pedal to the metal and nose to the grindstone.

Apr 12, 2019 10:12 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Cooperation is essential - whether living together or apart. We had one situation where the closing was held hostage to a dispute over a painting. He wouldn't sign until she gave it back. She wouldn't give it back until he signed. We finally solved it by having the attorney hold the painting.

Apr 11, 2019 09:35 PM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is excellent advice to share. Working together for the home sale is a smart decision.

Apr 12, 2019 04:27 AM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

I've not experienced any sellers getting a divorce remaining together as their home is on the market. Extremely unusual, however, perhaps, the co existence can be mitigated to successfully reach their goal's and objectives because of today's economic circumstances. Regardless, excellent advice to people that are getting divorced.

Apr 12, 2019 08:39 AM
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

😲 OMG - Imagine as their Realtor being used as a weapon against the other. My first conversation is please keep me neutral.

Imagine the one ask for research and the other opens their mail. Now, the other is upset with me, forgetting they asked me for research sent to them directly.

I also have to ask them to please not use the home as a weapon against the other. It is an asset beneficial to both equally.

Please do not beat the house up to avoid beating up on each other.

Then, there is the couple I know who had more than $100k equity in their home, just stopped making mortgage payments to punish each other, allowing it to go into foreclosure, while refusing to place it on the market to recover the equity and split it 50/50. Now how stupid is that!

Both are living far below the lifestyle they had together. When I see them, they put up a good front, but I know they regret the bad financial choice they made to hurt the other, now they can be civil when in the other’s presence.

Apr 12, 2019 09:02 AM
Brian England
Vacasa - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Divorce is one of the ugliest things to go through in the world and I wish that at a minimum parents would at least consider the best interests of the kids involved first.

Apr 12, 2019 09:29 AM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Oh Lordy, just like kids trying to pit mommy and daddy against each other for the sake of the win. We handled an interesting short sale ( during those days) for a couple who got along so well, we weren't sure if they were really divorcing.  It was a bit suspicious, but we certainly weren't going to hire a detective. 

Apr 12, 2019 09:47 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Good Saturday morning, Myrl.

Have a great day and an outstanding weekend.

Apr 13, 2019 07:51 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Myrl Jeffcoat ,

I love happy endings and I've seen it happen! I listed and sold a home for a couple divorcing. She moved to Dallas and I referred her to an agent and she bought a home. I sold the husband a home her in Austin. They just called me and they are back together, remarried and want a new home! Isn't it amazing how things can work out!

Apr 13, 2019 05:22 PM
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

Myrl, such an important topic but I have never had a good experience with two of them in the same house.

Apr 14, 2019 03:51 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Myrl Jeffcoat - You have written pure words of wisdom that everyone needs to know. Divorce complicates everything. Homeownership and taxes is a big one! 

You covered this territory wisely and well. It takes someone like you to manage the transaction successfully. A new agent without consulting with their Broker would likely run into many problems. 

Apr 14, 2019 05:53 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Totally agree. If possible to keep things civil and stay in the house for a bit, that can be a better situation for selling.  Just make sure the listing agent doesn't state the reason for the move!

Apr 14, 2019 02:27 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Well, that can certainly be a nightmare on Elm Street for a lot of people out there and I don’t envy anybody going through it!

Apr 17, 2019 11:13 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Keeping things civil and civil is the main objective in a lot of things in life and especially in this tense environment. A rough one for sure!

Apr 17, 2019 11:14 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Divorcing and selling the family home is one of the most stressful situations I can imagine. A peaceful resolution is the best case scenario. Couples should try not to sabotage their profits and your advice is spot on.

Apr 26, 2019 09:58 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Myrl Jeffcoat - I am not sure how I missed this first time around. You make some poignant points and especially the children. Their needs are most important.  

I do not see many homes coming on market in Sedona due to divorce. Probably because these can be second homes and if sold, they are part of a settlement decree. 

Jan 18, 2020 05:36 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

Every time I read this post I have to cringe. I have  too many memories with client's divorcing Myrl Jeffcoat 

Feb 17, 2021 06:04 PM