Divorce & Selling a Home in Massachusetts

Divorce and selling a home, they say, are on the list of the most stressful events a person can go through in their lives.

One of the realities of being a Massachusetts Realtor is that I often encounter folks who will need to sell their home due to a divorce. Divorce and selling a home in Massachusetts is as common as the day is long. It is one of the things that keeps real estate agents busy. The divorce rate today is higher than it has ever been. It is just a fact that people do not stay together for better or worse like they used to. The divorce rate, of course, opens up the opportunity for Realtors to be helping those that need to sell what usually amounts to their largest marital asset.

Purchasing a Massachusetts home together can represent a significant outlay of funds for one or both members of the divorcing party. When it comes to divorce, both members will have had an active interest in ensuring that their part of the investment is protected, whether there was a cash outlay or not. Selling a house in the middle of a divorce can often be a highly charged emotional event. Even in an amicable divorce, discussing the home’s sale could lead to rash decisions.

Keep a close lid on your feelings and ensure you are not led by emotion into a wrong decision. You will need to consider that this should be an intelligent business decision. When selling a home and getting a divorce in Massachusetts, you will want a competent representative in your corner.

A good Massachusetts divorce attorney is something both sides should have unless you think things can be worked out through mediation.


  • One spouse keeps the home and buys out the other party’s interest.
  • One spouse keeps exclusive use for a specified period, typically when the youngest child turns eighteen, after which the home can be sold.
  • The home is sold immediately, and each spouse shares the profits.

Both parties should be thinking about what they would like to do. Does one party want to sell, and the other wants the home?

Is it financially feasible for one party to keep the home? How will the other party be compensated if one party keeps the house?

For this article, I will focus on some considerations when selling a home during a divorce.


Many do not realize there are tremendous tax benefits when selling a home due to the Real Estate capital gains tax law that went into effect in 1997, known as the Tax Payer Relief Act of 1997.

The current capital gains tax law when selling your residence allows for an exclusion of up to $250,000 in profit if you are single and $500,000 if married!

You must have lived in your home for two of the last five years to be eligible. The home must be your personal residence and can not be an investment property. In a nutshell, this means that the parties could get a huge tax break if the home is sold while you are still married. Selling the marital home will allow up to $500,000 in profit to be excluded from federal capital gain taxes. A couple may apply for this tax break if they file a joint tax return. If you choose to file separately, each partner can still claim up to $250,000 on their tax return, provided they still meet the two-out-of-five years living in the home qualification.

If the parties have owned the home for a significant amount and there has been considerable equity growth, this can amount to substantial tax savings. When one party chooses to remain in the home but plans on selling shortly, there could be quite a difference in tax savings.


One of the unfortunate things I see in a divorce is one party’s desire to “win” at all costs.

There have been occasions where one spouse insists on keeping the home even though it is not a prudent financial decision because they see it as winning a significant battle. If they end up keeping the marital home, there are times when they later realize that maybe taking on such a large debt and all the expenses that come along with home ownership was not such a good idea.

When going through with a divorce and keeping the marital home, you must ensure you can afford the mortgage payments.

So many couples getting divorced underestimate what it will cost them to live once the divorce is finalized. One of the things that should be done when contemplating keeping the home is to develop a comprehensive budget before you lock yourself into a divorce settlement. The emotional side of things should also be considered as well. Does the home have treasured memories shared, or is it a place you would rather forget about?

Going back to the part about “winning” is what clouds many people’s judgments when it comes to both financial and emotional decisions.


When couples go through a nasty divorce, selecting a Realtor is something that most are not going to do as it will more than likely be court appointed.

When the relationship is amicable, however, selecting the Realtor to work with is an essential part of the process. Like any other Real Estate transaction, you should be looking for a realtor with a strong track record of success. Given that over 90% of buyers find their homes online today, you want to work with an agent that will provide dominant internet exposure.

The agent should have their own website that comes up on local internet searches and place your home in the most traveled consumer sites for looking at properties. I should emphasize, though, that it is not enough to place your home on popular sites. This is what the average agent does. It would help if you worked with a Realtor who would spend the time adding great photography and vivid descriptions of your home and offers a video tour.

These are the type of things that make a difference and help your home stand out from the competition.


Above all else, you will want to work with a realtor with great communication skills in a divorce.

Given that two parties might not be sharing the same roof anymore, you will want to work with someone who understands the nature of divorce and all the feelings that come with it. The agent will have to have a certain level of patience as all communications will likely be repeated multiple times.

Selecting a Realtor is a process that should be done together. I have witnessed 1st hand over my thirty-six years in the business that if one party decides who they want to interview, the other party may feel slighted in the process. The instinct is to feel that the Realtor will play favorites.

When I am hired to represent a couple in a divorce, I want them both to be present for any interviews that take place. I want them to know that I represent both of them equally. The goal is always to get the best terms and conditions in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of headaches.

Creating an atmosphere of trust where either party can call me at any time is very important. Getting a divorce is stressful enough as it is. Adding a home sale on top of it can make you feel like your life is really upside down. Making the home sale process go as smoothly as possible is always one of my missions.

If you have any questions about the process, I am always here to help in anyway possible.

Molly Armando


Molly Armando, a Dartmouth realtor, excels in client management with a marketing background. “Your goals, my commitment.” Expert guidance for real estate.
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