Navigating a property sale due to death or divorce

Navigating a property sale due to death or divorce

Sadly, one of the downsides of the pandemic has been the increase in Northern Beaches homes being sold due to divorce or separation. Despite divorce numbers declining over recent years, the stats share that 1 in 3 first marriages end in divorce in Australia. There are also plenty of de facto relationships that break down for various reasons as well.

If you find yourself in this situation a great starting point for information is the Family Court of Australia. In 2021 improvements were made to the system to speed up the process and allow for electronic hearings (all learnings from the pandemic).

Apart from the emotional difficulties, one of the most stressful parts of separation is the division of property. Unless one partner can afford to buy the other out, the home purchased during the marriage will need to be sold.

Selling a home after losing a family member can also be a difficult time because emotions are running high, it is not always easy to make a decision and there are usually multiple beneficiaries involved. You’ll find helpful information on the Services Australia website and a checklist of what to do when someone dies on the Australian Tax Office website.

Following are some real estate tips for both situations, with a perspective that reflects homeowners in North Narrabeen, Ingleside, Elanora Heights and other suburbs within the 2101 postcode.

Selling a home after a separation

Timeliness is generally the preference for a home sale after a relationship breakdown. Sealing the deal quickly allows both parties to move on and gives them access to the funds they need.

However, selling a home does take time, especially if you want to achieve a great price. This is why it helps to work with an experienced agent who has handled similar scenarios many times over.

The process to sell after a separation is the same as selling a home any other time. You need to do what you can to make sure the property is presentable and attract as many interested buyers as possible. Often, an auction can be a good approach for selling a home on the Northern Beaches because it will give you a final sale date and you’ll be able to set the minimum price you’re happy with before you go ahead. When it comes down to what this price is, defer to your agent, who will help you get a premium result.

It makes sense to work with an agent who knows the area and can arrange repairs or updates to the home as required. Your agent will also liaise with people like conveyancers, who will help you get the legal side of selling a home completed.

During a separation, the issue many people face is selling the house if one party refuses or won’t agree on a price. If this is the case, the worst outcome is a trip to the family court, which is expensive and stressful. You can explore options like working with a mediator or lawyer to avoid this outcome. At the end of the day, you can get an indication of the price from valuers but it will also come down to what the buyers are willing to pay.

It’s worth a reminder to go easy and look after yourself. If you can find an agent who you trust, you’ll be able to hand over the majority of the heavy lifting to them and focus on planning the next phase of your life.

If you separate and need to sell, look for a Northern Beaches agent with:

  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Strong stakeholder management
  • Experience dealing with estate sales due to divorce

Selling a home when someone has passed away

When you lose a relative or loved one, there is no set time frame for selling the home. However, if the will has more than one beneficiary and the division of assets includes multiple people, you will probably need to move reasonably quickly.

There is also the issue of capital gains tax on a home sale after someone dies, which applies if the home is not sold within a two year period.

Before you sell the home, you will need to be clear on your role. If you’re the executor of the will, you assume the role of vendor (or home seller), even if you are acting on behalf of others. It makes sense to work with a real estate agent who has prior experience and can help you make sure you have the legal authority to sell the estate based on what’s in the will.

The process of physically listing and selling a home after someone has died follows the same steps as any other home sale. It still makes sense to get a number of appraisals and work through the necessary steps to achieve a good outcome. If your real estate sales agent recommends repairs or upgrades, think about how much time and effort you are willing to sacrifice in return for a higher sale price.

Conflict may arise if a beneficiary feels the property is not being sold at the right value. Having an agent who can prove what the home is worth based on its condition, age, size, location and other recent sales will help prevent a family dispute or even worse – a trip to court.

Having an empathetic agent is essential at this time. They should make the situation feel easier by working at your pace and making arrangements in terms of decluttering, upgrading the property and liaising with lawyers as required.

Need help selling your Northern Beaches home after a separation or death? Contact our experienced and caring team at Hunter Estate Agents to find out the next best steps to take.

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