Selling a House in a Divorce

Selling a house can be stressful on its own. Now, add to it, selling a house in a divorce – potentially. You don’t always have to sell your house just because you’re going through a divorce.

Since the house is usually the largest asset for most families, it is often the most disputed topic for the courts to sort out. The dispute is usually settled in one of three ways:

  • One of the spouses keeps the house until the youngest child turns 18 years old (or finishes high school – whichever comes later). Afterwards, the house is sold and the equity is split between both parties.
  • The house is sold as part of the divorce and the equity is split.
  • One of the spouses buys out the other spouse

So what happens when one of the parties would like to keep the house but the other doesn’t? This is when things can get a bit unnerving. You see, one party can hire a real estate agent and put the house on the market. (Only one signature is required to put the house up for sale.) However, in order to sell the house, both parties have to agree and sign the paperwork. There’s a loophole to this though.

If a judge gets involved, he can legally force both parties to sell the house. This option should be saved as an absolute last resort. Involving a judge will be a costly and time consuming process. Even though the court compels the sale of the house, one of the parties can still make things challenging: they can refuse showing the home or signing necessary documents. At this point, the judge can sign on the refusing party’s behalf and can force the unwilling party out before the sale of the home. In order to avoid high legal fees, it would be best practice (and way more stress free) to agree on what to do with the house as soon as possible.

Involving the judge is the worst case scenario. You can also plan a buyout. This is when one party buys out the other party and refinances the house in his/her name. You can also exchange your equity for other assets. Meaning, if there are other valuables (like a car, boat, or RV), the value of those can be traded for the equity of the home.


When it comes time to sell your house in a divorce, finding the right realtor matters. As we know, divorce is difficult – your realtor shouldn’t be. Make sure you find a realtor with these qualities:

  • Compassionate (make sure {s}he understands the nature & complexity of the divorce)
  • Business minded (you still want someone who knows what they’re doing)
  • Patient ({s}he will have to repeat the same information to both parties throughout the process)
  • Exceptionally communicative (to insure open lines of communication)
  • No favoritism (The realtor’s priority should be to sell the house with the least amount of stress involved, within a reasonable amount of time, and for the most amount of money.)

If you’re going through this unpleasant time in your life and are looking for a quality realtor, give us a call at IHeartGR 616.202.6551 or send an email to Our goal is to make house selling (and buying) as stress free as possible.

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