Buying a house is big step, and it can take a long time to make that house feel like a home. Now that you are facing a divorce, you may feel tempted to hang onto the place you worked so hard to make yours. Though keeping the marital home may be appealing, you should consider all the consequences before you make a decision.
Can you afford to stay?
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to keeping your home is whether you can afford to stay. On a quick look, you may think you can afford the mortgage. However, there are more costs associated with owning a home than just the mortgage.
If you do not already have a monthly budget, you should compile a spreadsheet of all your monthly bills. It should include fixed expenses like your mortgage payment, internet payment, car payment, electricity bill, and student loan payments. You must also include estimates of variable expenses like your grocery bill, your clothing budget and your entertainment expenses. A monthly budget should also include a small amount to be set aside for home maintenance like plumbing issues, a new water heater or replacing appliances. If you plan to stay in your home for some time, these expenses will eventually come up.
Does it make sense to stay?
You figure out you can afford to stay in the home. However, there are other factors to consider. Once you live alone, you do all the upkeep associated with the home. You will have to mow the lawn, shovel the snow and clean the house. If your home is large, cleaning alone can be a large undertaking. If you work a lot, finding time for home maintenance can be difficult.
Would moving save you a lot of money?
If your mortgage is expensive, downsizing may be a good call. It could mean a smaller monthly housing payment and less house to maintain. Do some research on how much alternative housing costs in your area. Before you decide to move, you want to ensure you can find less expensive housing options in your area of choice.
Will you get approved for refinancing?
Assuming you and your soon-to-be ex’s names are both on the mortgage, you will need to do a few things to rectify that. You must refinance your home to remove his or her name from the mortgage. Your ex must also sign a quit claim deed to remove his or her name from your home’s title.
The refinancing process is basically like buying your home again. You get a home appraisal, approved for a loan and then pay closing costs. If your home has equity, you must also pay your former spouse his or her fair share of the equity.
Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means your property is divided equitably though not necessarily evenly. You might come up with cash for equity during the refinance process. Or you may have to give up some other assets, like part of your retirement savings, to pay out his or her share of the equity. If you are unsure how to divide your home’s equity, you may consider taking to legal representation who can advise you of your rights.
Staying in your marital home may seem important to you. However, you do not want to leave yourself in a bad financial place after the divorce. Create a budget, consider home maintenance, check out the housing market and make a decision that gets you started off right in your new life.