If you’ve experienced a recent divorce or separation and are in the process of coping, it’s common to have uncertainties when it comes to your living situation. It’s challenging to navigate the emotions, finances, and family considerations that accompany a divorce. Reasonably so, contemplating moving and researching the housing market might feel like an additional stress on the situation.
Although it can feel overwhelming, it’s critical for you to have a safe, affordable place to call home after a divorce. Whether you’re temporarily in an apartment, a relative’s home, or are debating leaving the marital home, your living situation is a big decision. If you’re thinking about buying a new home or moving at some point down the road, review these important factors to set yourself up for a seamless transition and help you feel confident in this major life decision.
Outline Your Wants and Needs
Like any major decision, buying a home takes a lot of time, effort, and research to ensure you’re considering all avenues before committing and putting yourself into debt. A divorce can trigger a lot of change mentally, so it’s important for you to take some time to reinvent yourself and define your new future wants and needs during this time. Consider this a new start where you get to do things on your own terms. Ask yourself hard questions to help determine if buying a home is right for you at this time instead of renting or another temporary living arrangement. If you feel confident that you’re in a good place and it’s time to buy or at least look, you’ll want to make sure of a few key things first.
Determine Where you Stand Financially
Financial planning is a critical part of the home buying process, especially in the early stages. Even if you went through this process before with your ex, there will be new considerations now that you’re looking for a home on your own. The last thing you want after a divorce is to be in crippling debt and add unnecessary stress to your plate. It’s normal to ask yourself, “How much mortgage can I afford on my own?” The good news is that similar to a mortgage lender, you can calculate your debt-to-income ratio to give you a better idea. Keep in mind, this is a general guide, but you must also consider additional factors that may apply such as your mortgage term, interest rate, reserves, down payment, and additional costs such as insurance, taxes, and closing costs.
Consider Your Children and Their Future
Many parents face difficult decisions when it comes to their children and how they’re impacted by divorce. Of course, as a parent you want to make sure you’re considering your children’s future in your major life decisions too. If your children are old enough to go to school and participate in extracurricular activities, you must figure out if moving will impact this in a positive or negative way. If you and your ex are co-parenting, think about the logistics required to get them to and from any obligations as well as to the other parent’s home. If applicable to your agreement, it’s much easier to discuss joint custody plans with your ex before you begin looking and fall in love with a property that’s inconvenient or unreasonable for your situation.
Research Location and Property Options
If you’re moving, children or not, it’s important that you do thorough research on the neighborhood, safety, convenience, and insurance needs for that area. Even if it’s not too far from your previous home, there still could be vast differences that you’ll want to know about before committing to moving there. Take your family considerations into account: do you need a backyard for kids or would you like a front porch to hang out on with friends? Plan to visit the neighborhood in person as many times as you can, the more comfortable you are with the area, the better.
Work With a Trusted Real Estate Agent
Your real estate agent can really make a difference in the home buying process, and if it’s smooth sailing you might not even realize how much they eased the process for you. On the other hand, if you’re not confident with your agent, definitely speak up and find a new agent you trust if necessary – you won’t want to pay for the repercussions if you don’t. If your relationship with this person is more personal, that’s great too. This closer relationship gives you even more reason to trust that they’ll understand your unique situation, your finances, knowledge of your divorce, children, and more.
Purchasing a new home is an exciting milestone, a great investment, and a place where you can start fresh, especially after divorce. With all that excitement comes a lot of planning, research, time, and financial commitment. By taking some of these helpful preparations early in the process, you can avoid future stress and ensure this is an enjoyable experience for you and your loved ones to start your new journey.