Important Facts You Must Consider When Selling Your Home During A Divorce

Divorce is one of the most difficult things that anyone will ever go through and it also brings with it some tough decisions. If you own a home, then one of the biggest issues you will face is whether you want to sell it. In some situations, this may not even be a decision that you can make as some divorce proceedings come with a court order made by a judge that stipulates that your home must be sold and the money split between both partners.

            Getting divorced and selling a home are two of the most stressful things that will ever occur in our lives, so what happens if we have to deal with both at once? It’s tough! You will probably feel incredibly stressed out and selling your home can seem even more difficult when you also have to navigate through the emotional issues that come with a divorce.

            For a married couple, a home is often their biggest financial asset. Many of us also have strong emotional ties to our homes, especially if we have lived there for many years and perhaps raised a family there. It is natural to feel that you want to continue living in your home no matter what your personal circumstances may be, but the reality is that sometimes you might have to sell even if you don’t feel ready for it. Often people sell their home during a divorce because of money issues, or it could be for legal reasons. Sometimes it can also be for personal reasons if both partners feel like they want to make a clean break and neither wants to stay living in the marital home.

            There are many reasons why you might want to sell your home during a divorce, but you also need to know how this may impact the future sale. As such, it is very important to be aware of how a divorce can affect the sale of a marital property and why this can cause a negative outcome. If you make the wrong decision regarding your home when you are getting divorced, it can have serious consequences which could actually last longer than it will take to get your divorce finalized.

What are your options regarding your home when you get divorced?

            In most cases, there are three main options if you are getting divorced but also have a marital home…

  • One partner can choose to buy their partner’s legal interest in the home after which it will become their sole property.
  • One partner will continue to live in the home but only for a set time frame. Usually, this happens when couples have children and it is deemed that it would be detrimental for them to move. Often one partner will agree to stay living in the home with a child or children until they turn 18, and the home will then be sold at that point.


  • The home can be sold immediately and the couple can share the money made on the sale. It is possible to do this while you are in the process of getting divorced, but needless to say, there are some legal issues, and tax issues that will make it more complex than a typical house sale.

Some reasons you might want to sell your home during a divorce:

Legal:  In many cases, there are some sound legal reasons why it is better to sell your home during a divorce if at all possible.

            One of the major reasons is financial. Usually, both partners will have an idea of what they think is a fair share of the money from the sale of a property. This almost always reflects the amount of money the couple each put into the purchase of the home in the beginning and most couples rarely contribute 50/50 when they buy a home. If you go to court however and ask for the home to be divided between you and your spouse then this will be decided by a judge who will make the decision for you. Going to court is a stressful experience for many and it is rare that the judge’s decision is one that both partners are equally satisfied with.

            In this case, it is much better to try to avoid having the decision made by a judge if you can. If you are looking for the easiest answer, then the best way to sell a home quickly with as little stress as possible is to agree to split the equity of the home equally. It is also easier to know that you are getting a fair deal as you can ask for an appraisal. This will tell you the worth of your home and you can then split the money you make on a sale based on that appraisal. Another option is to hire a Realtor who can give you advice on how much your home is worth.


            Even if you want to stay living in your home after the divorce, there may be financial reasons why this is not possible. Many people get a joint mortgage when they are married which is based on two sets of income. The reason that many people get the mortgage in the first place is precisely because they have two different incomes contributing to the mortgage repayments. When you get divorced, there will only be one income coming in, and at this point, many people may realize that the cost of the mortgage, interest, insurance, property taxes, utilities, and maintenance costs of the home can barely be covered by their income alone. As such, this is a good reason why you may want to sell your home and choose a smaller and cheaper property for yourself.


            One of the biggest issues you will face when you get divorced relates to capital gains tax. At the moment, capital gains tax law gives married couples who are jointly selling a home a possible tax exemption on up to $500,000 in profit. If you are selling your property as a single person, then you are exempt from being taxed only on up to $250,000 in profit, which cuts the possible exemption in half. You also have to have lived in your property for two out of the last five years in order to qualify for an exemption and it must be your primary residence and not a second home or a property that was bought for investment purposes. If you are unsure of the tax situation with your home then the best advice is to contact a tax professional to explain everything to you.


The bottom line, however, is that it makes more sense financially to sell your home when you are still married than it does to sell it when your divorce has been finalized. The reason for this is that you will be eligible for a tax exemption of up to $500,000 in profit on your home, so that is half a million dollars of your money that will not be taxed because of federal capital gains taxes. This is particularly important if you have lived in your home for a long time and your home has a large equity as this is going to mean you make a big saving on tax. If one partner decides to stay living in the home and then sell it after they get divorced, then they will miss out on making this large savings. As such, planning exactly when you want to sell your home is very important.


            Many people choose to sell their home when they are getting divorced for emotional reasons. Divorce, even one where both partners agree with the split, can be very difficult emotionally and a home is usually filled with memories that you will have built up as a family over the years. Holding on to your home and continuing to live there once your partner has moved out, however, can be very painful and serve as a constant reminder of your former marital situation.

            Some partners may find it comforting to stay on in their former family home in the short term as this seems easier than moving out when the emotional turmoil from the divorce is still fresh, but as time goes on this is a decision that many individuals regret. Once the dust settles a little and the divorce is finalized, rather than feeling comforting, a home that you used to share with your partner may feel like it is holding you back from moving on with your life.

How should you sell your home during a divorce?

            Selling your home when you are getting divorced doesn’t have to be difficult! In many ways, it is exactly the same as selling your home when you just want to move to another property, but there are some things you do need to keep in mind. The most important thing when you sell your home during a divorce is that you need to decide how much money from the sale each partner will get. This is crucial if you want to avoid problems later down the line. If you are going to split the equity of your home after a sale then think about the percentage of the split. Will you split it 50/50 with your spouse?

            At this stage, it is very important to get a great Realtor who will help you get the best possible deal for your home. If you really do want to make as much money as you can on the sale then make sure you follow their advice- they are experts in their field after all! At this stage, it is also very important that you get a lawyer who can help you to reach a decision about how you will divide up the money made on the sale of your home. Remember that you will be dividing up the money made on the sale but you may need to invest in home improvements and other costs beforehand so make sure you factor all of this into the calculations.

            Another thing to think about when you are selling your home during a divorce is whether you want to sell it for the most money possible or if you want to sell it quickly. A great Realtor will be able to advise you on how much you need to drop your price in order to get a quick sale, and this may shave 3-4 months off the whole sale process. Many couples who are getting divorced obviously want to move on with their lives as soon as possible so ask your Realtor about ways that you can get your home sold as quickly as you can. A good Realtor is crucial to the process.

Picking a good realtor:

            If you do decide to sell your home when you are getting divorced then picking the best realtor for the job is very important. If possible try to find a dedicated Realtor who has worked with divorcing couples before. It is fair to say that when two people get divorced, their relationship may be strained and they may have trouble communicating. This is where a  Realtor can step in and help the couple to navigate through the sale of their home in a calm and supportive manner.

            As such make sure that you get an experienced Realtor who is patient and communicative and one of the best things that you can do is to choose a Realtor together with your spouse so that you both feel comfortable with that person. This also eliminates the feeling that your Realtor may be working for your spouse to get a better deal for them. Find your Realtor together if you want to cut down on the arguments!

            A good Realtor will make sure that both parties can contact them at any time and that both of you can ask questions about your home. They will also make it clear that they represent both of you and your joint home. They should never make you feel like they only want one point of contact or that they will only deal with one spouse. Remember that they are there to help you solve a problem, which is to sell your home as quickly as possible for the best price. If you aren’t sure which Realtor to choose then interview a few together with your spouse and look for someone who has not only worked with divorcing couples but who also has a history of getting sales for those couples.

            Divorce is challenging and so is selling a home. If you have to do both at the same time then it can feel like a very difficult time in your life, but there is lots of support and advice available to get you through it. Prepare well, find a great Divorce Realtor, and follow their advice to get the best and quickest sale for you.

This will mean that your financial and emotional security will be well taken care of and that you will be one step closer to putting this challenging time behind you and moving on with your life.


     About the Author: The above post on How to Sell Your Home During a Divorce was written by Wendy Mundy a leader in the field of Real Estate sales, & marketing. Wendy can be reached via email at or by phone at (515) 490-6627. Wendy has helped many people buy and sell Des Moines & surrounding area homes since 2003.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a real passion for buying and selling Real Estate, as well as marketing & technology. I’d love to share my expertise!

I help people buy and sell real estate in Des Moines Iowa & surrounding communities.