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How to Buy a New Home During a Divorce

Posted by Vanessa Freeman on August 9, 2016

buy-new-home-during-divorce-grass.pngEnding a relationship is not an easy process. In the course of becoming single, you need to make countless decisions and adjust virtually every facet of your life - including where you will live next. If you're dealing with a divorce or separation, here is what you'll need to do in order to start fresh in a new home.

Putting The Financial House In Order

Dividing up financial assets is usually the most complicated and time-consuming part of separation. Even if you and your partner are going through an amicable split, it's an excellent idea to seek expert legal and financial counsel. Portioning out your shared assets correctly can be extremely complex, and you don't want to skip over any important steps by accident.

Any property you and your partner hold jointly will need to be transferred to one of you. In the case of significant assets - homes, vehicles, etc. - this will often require a delicate balance. If you surrender your interest in a home you bought together, for example, you might claim a larger a share of your pooled liquid assets.

Sharing Your Debts and Assets

Shared debt needs to be broken up, too. Mortgages are frequent stumbling blocks in divorces. You might be fortunate enough to have a lender who is able to remove one party from a joint mortgage, but it's equally likely that your mortgage will have to be refinanced again under sole ownership.

Many couples go through a divorce with shared retirement assets like pensions, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs). You'll need a proper separation agreement (or court order) to modify retirement funds without being subject to taxes. Hiring expert financial counsel to guide you through the process is a smart decision as far as your share in assets is involved.

buy-new-home-during-divorce-money-jars.pngPlanning For Your Future

Since you're going through major financial upheavals, a separation is actually the perfect time to engage in some sensible long-term financial planning. This is where having an accountant or another financial expert on your side is a huge help. To move forward as an independent person, you'll need to reassess your financial resources.

If you haven't been financially independent in years, your credit score may not be too healthy. Getting a trusted relative or friend to co-sign new loans (like a new mortgage) can give you access to credit that would otherwise be impossible to secure. A cosigner takes on responsibility for your debts if you fail to pay them, so you need someone who trusts you completely to provide this help.

A clear assessment of your new financial status will have you ready to start the search for a new home. Your RRSP can be a useful resource when you buy a new home thanks to the Home Buyers' Plan. Your RRSP can be a fruitful source of funds; currently up to $25,000 can be withdrawn through the Home Buyers' Plan.

Any savings you come through the divorce with can also be of great help. Assess your other needs realistically and maintain a safety net. Don't forget that many of the resources available to you (including an RRSP withdrawal or a cosigned mortgage) are loans that will need to be repaid.

Your Changing Housing Needs

Although a separation is usually a lengthy process, you may find yourself in the market for a new home quite suddenly. Resist the temptation to purchase a permanent home immediately; it's much better to secure short-term housing so you can adequately prepare for your new situation in life.

Without your partner, how have your priorities changed in assessing a potential home? Do you need less space now? If you've received custody of your children, you'll need to look for a new home that offers you access to good schools. Perhaps you want to relocate closer to friends or relatives now that you're on your own.

Don't overlook the opportunities that come to you in adversity! Being free to buy a home of your own means that you can make a fresh start in a place that's ideally suited to your new needs. Maybe your separation finally allows you to move within walking distance of your job, or right into the heart of the city.

Simplifying And Moving On

For many newly-separated individuals, the ideal home becomes smaller and simpler than it was during their marriage. While your new financial situation may factor into this decision, it's not necessarily the key point to look at. Even if you can easily afford a sprawling family home with a giant lawn, that may not be what you really need now.

The condominium life is immensely appealing to many single people, and it's not just because the homes are smaller. Smaller homes are perfect for busy singles who are interested in moving forward. Many developers and homebuilders cater to the needs of the newly single. If you're looking for a "turnkey" home - one that's ready for immediate occupation - you'll find plenty of options available in Edmonton.

Besides getting you into a furnished, move-in ready home as quickly as possible, buying a condo typically allows you to take up residence in a better location. Whether you're looking for easy access to cultural attractions, commercial amenities, or business districts, a condo can get you closer and cut down on the amount of time you spend commuting.

Opting for condo living also frees up a lot of time by relieving you of the burden of home maintenance. Why waste time caring for the land that you don't use? Condos are perfect for those who would rather spend their money on more indoor space and better furnishings than lawns and gardens. Great condos often deliver access to communal resources (gyms, for instance) that you simply can't get from a conventional suburban home.

You may want to move on quickly when you're picking up the pieces following a separation or divorce. When it comes to picking out a new home, though, give your decision the thought it truly deserves. Make sure you have a firm grasp on the way your resources, priorities, and interests have changed before you make a permanent commitment.

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Photo credit: house in grass, money jars
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Topics: mortgage & financial