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Buying Real Estate After A Divorce


Typically, it’s a trying time when going through a divorce.  There are hurt feelings and a lot of changes… and a rough one is the change of addresses.  Few things are positive about the divorce experience, but coming out the other side with a fresh perspective, and a new home, can be just what you need.  If you’re a newly single person navigating the real estate market, here are a few factors well worth consideration for post-divorce home hunters.


The first step is always to determine where you want to live, since this will determine where to start looking.  If your divorce is particularly acrimonious, you may be inclined to secure housing as far away from your ex-spouse as geographically possible.  However, relocating is not always the best option, particularly if children are involved. More specifically, custody and visitation orders may limit how far ex-spouses may live from one another, and will most certainly contain certain directives in the event either parent chooses to leave the jurisdiction.  It also may seem like a great idea to get as far away as possible to make a new start, but you may be cutting yourself off from a much-needed support system of friends and loved ones.   “Fleeing” the scene of the failed marriage can lead to isolation, which can be especially problematic for anyone suffering from depression or anxiety amid this major life transition.


Depending on which spouse was primarily responsible for indoor and outdoor upkeep, this could be a significant factor in deciding on a new post-divorce home.  For the spouse without a green thumb, it may be prudent to avoid properties with intricate, sprawling landscapes. Likewise, the spouse who didn’t contribute as much to the interior upkeep of a home may feel overwhelmed by the maintenance of a 3,000-square-foot space.  Other issues to consider when shopping for property as a single individual may include snow removal, general lawn maintenance, and the possible need for significant property repairs in the near future.


Choosing an appropriately-sized new home is a difficult decision for some. On the one hand, downsizing from a large, single-family home to a smaller condominium or apartment can alleviate many of the housekeeping responsibilities that accompany owning a large house.   On the other hand, a drastic change can bring about an unexpected emotional response, particularly if the marital home had a lot of happy memories.  You may want to consider a moderate rental property while weighing the options to give yourself time to adjust to the change emotionally.


Last, but certainly not least, it is common for a divorce to leave a significant impression on one’s personal finance outlook.   For some, downsizing or moving to a different neighborhood becomes a necessity in order to make ends meet. However, some people don’t feel this stress, particularly for the party receiving monthly support payments.

Federal law prohibits a lender from requiring a borrower to list child support or alimony payments as monthly income, but borrowers often elect to include these payments as part of their regular income stream in order to boost eligibility for a loan.  While it may be tempting to list these payments as income, keep in mind that alimony likely doesn’t last forever.  Many spousal support orders are only for a limited duration and alimony almost always ceases upon remarriage. Child support payments may also conclude once the child reaches 18 years of age (or upon some other condition as agreed by the parties, such as graduation from college).

When it comes to securing a loan for a new mortgage, the best advice is to stay well within your budget, as you never know when things could change. And it’s always easier to “upsize” later than it is to downsize amid financial crisis or an impending default.

Of course, other factors may also be significant, depending on your unique circumstances. By taking careful, well-planned steps when navigating the real estate market post-divorce, you’re more likely to end up with a new home that suits you.  Be sure you talk to a real estate expert that will hold your hand during this rough transition.  Call Helen at 847.967.00222 or email

Helen OliveriBuying Real Estate After A Divorce