Divorce is a huge event in anyone’s life, and it’s not an easy thing to move on from. The months or years leading up to divorce, plus the drawn out process, can be a drain on your health, your energy, and your finances. One of the biggest challenges after divorce is finding a new living situation. Buying a house after divorce can be a strange process to pursue alone after years of sharing a home with another person. If you’re thinking about buying a house after divorce, here are the steps you need to take.
5 Tips on Buying a House After Divorce
1. Finalize Any Legal Proceedings
Buying a house after divorce can get messy quickly. It can also pose some considerable risk. Depending on your situation, your finances could be altered drastically once your divorce is finalized. You may lose part of your salary to your spouse, or you may receive payments. Shopping for a new house in the middle of things can make planning a budget a nightmare. Plus, you don’t want to buy a house you can’t actually afford. An expensive mortgage payment will only cause more stress. If you own a house separately from your spouse while the divorce is still happening, you could be penalized for having such a hefty asset. You may be eager to change your living situation, but don’t let it cost you other assets you really wanted.
2. Close the Door on Your Old Living Situation
Before you get to signing the paperwork on a new house, you may have to sell the old one or close out your lease on an apartment. Selling a house with your old partner can get messy fast, and it is possible that divorce will complicate the process, ultimately making it more difficult to sell your house in the time frame you’d like. You may even need the input of the court before you can go through the selling process, especially if the house is a point of contention between the two of you. Regardless, it will be easier to buy a new house when you’re not stressing out about the old one. Sign a short lease on an apartment or stay with friends and family while you’re house hunting. Just make sure to organize any important documents before you start packing. Proof of income will be important if you need a mortgage.
3. Evaluate Your Financial Health
Divorce can wreak havoc on even the most carefully planned budgets. Has your income gone up or down? Have you paid all of your legal fees? Will you owe different taxes due to your change in assets? Has your credit score been impacted in recent months? All of this can impact how you approach the housing market. If you want to look for a house in a different location, prices will be different there, and if the distance is far, you may need a new job. If you do end up pursuing a career change, it may take you a little longer to figure out what your budget will look like. You also need to take job benefits into consideration, especially if you relied on your partner for those benefits. You may have to change health insurance, for example. If you and your ex were saving for retirement, how has your retirement savings account changed?
4. Make Your New House Checklist
Your life post-divorce may look pretty different from your previous lifestyle. The things you valued as a couple may not matter so much now that you’re single. When making your post-divorce house wish list, some things may already be decided for you. For example, if you have children and share custody, you’re probably not willing to move too far from your current location, and you probably still need the space for a growing family. However, you’re now free to pursue your own interests, so a house in the suburbs could switch to a city condo, or vice versa. Set your budget and make a list of features you know you want. Enjoy the fact that you don’t need anyone else’s input!
5. Choose an Expert Realtor
Navigating the housing market is tough, and it can be even more difficult when you’re still trying to catch your breath after divorce. There are realtors who specialize in helping divorced individuals. This may be the expertise you need when your schedule is in turmoil. These realtors understand what it’s like to fit in house viewings between appointments and sports practice for the kids. They also know how tricky it can be to get a handle on your finances, and that understanding can make a huge difference in how comfortable you are around these professionals.
Life after divorce is certainly different, but it’s also an opportunity to shape your life how you see fit. Buying a new house is just one part of the process, but with these steps, you’ll be well on your way to building a happy new chapter.