Should I Sell the House Before or After the Divorce?
“My wife wants a divorce, but the house is in my name…”
“My husband wants a divorce, but the house is in my name…”
“Should we sell the house before the divorce, or should I try and keep it to sell down the road?”
If you are facing divorce, you more than likely have a lot of unknowns you are facing right now. If you and the other person owned home, one of the biggest unknowns is probably the simple question:
“Who’s going to get the house?”
Should you sell it before the divorce? Or will you get more money if you wait until afterwards?
When it comes down to it, you only have two choices:
- You can sell the house before the divorce, which usually means you and the other split the profit.
- You can sell the house after the divorce, which usually means the person who got the house keeps the cash.
Choice #1: Selling the House Before the Divorce
This may be what a divorce attorney or accountant will recommend, but it may not always the right move for certain people. There are some cases where you may make more money by holding off on the sale.
Why Sell the House Before the Divorce?
Reason #1 – Higher Tax Write Off
If you sell the house before the divorce, most states allow you to write off up to $500,000 from the current year’s taxes. If you sell the house after the divorce, the maximum write-off drops down to $250,000.
Reason #2 – No Worrying About Equivalent Exchange
If you sell the house before the divorce, then you and the other person have a concrete amount of money to split between the two of you. You have the money in hand, you can divide it right in half, and that’s that. If you kept the house, you’d have to negotiate for equivalent exchange.
Reason #3 – Put the Past Behind You
Perhaps the most compelling reason to sell your house before the divorce is it will allow you to cut yourself permanently away from your old life. That way, once the divorce is over you don’t have to worry about it and you can move on with your life free from ties to the past.
Choice #2: Sell the House After the Divorce
Why Sell the House After the Divorce?
Reason #1 – Owning Property is a Wise Investment
Over the long term, property values tend to always rise. Waiting until after the divorce to sell the house may make you more money as the value rises. However, some states do not allow you to keep all of the profits, even if you’re divorced. This is where you should check with a lawyer for more information on your State’s alimony laws.
Reason #2 – Less to Worry About During the Divorce
A divorce is never easy and can be a very stressful time for everyone, especially if there are children involved. The last thing you would want to worry about is what is going on in the real estate market.
Reason #3 – Everyone Needs to Live Somewhere
You can sleep in your own bed, in your own house, and not have to worry about finding a cheap apartment or a friend/relative to stay with.
At the end of the day, selling the house before or after the divorce is a choice you and the other person will have to make together.
If the two people involved cannot decide, it may be best to sell the house before the divorce to take advantage of the bigger tax write off and the ability to completely move on after everything is said and done.
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers or Realtors. None of this information is intended to be use nor should it be interpreted as legal or financial advice. You should always consult with a certified professional in your area.