Finding a Home After Your Divorce

After a divorce, it can be difficult to continue living in the house you once shared with your partner. At the same time, however, searching for new property in the aftermath of a divorce can be just as tough. Not only are you in an emotionally vulnerable state but may also be experiencing a financial hit as well. The average divorce in America costs an average of $15,000, which is more than most families can comfortably afford. Some families choose to sell their original home to help pay for a new one, but this isn’t always possible when one party keeps the property.

Take Some Time to Think Things Through

After a divorce, most of us are in no sound mental state to be making major life decisions. A new home is a huge investment, and you shouldn’t be too hasty when searching through the listings. If you’re feeling stressed or frazzled, you may be more inclined to accept an unfair offer, or you may accidentally overlook problems with a property.

Instead of rushing into a new mortgage, take a few weeks to a few months of living in a rental property before committing to buying a home. You can use the time to find new accommodation that fits family life, or if your kids have flown the nest, then a smaller space that is comfortable without being poky. That way, you’ll be stepping into the transaction with a clear and sound mind. The emotional aftermath of your divorce is much less likely to influence your decisions, allowing you to set yourself up for success.

Take Stock of Your Financial Situation

Before checking your local real estate listings, you should be well aware of what finances you do (or don’t) have at your disposal. You should record your incoming and outgoing costs, slashing any unnecessary expenditures to increase your net income each month. You should also take into account any divorce-related fees that may impact your bank account, including lawyer costs and alimony payments. 

If you and your partner have any joint bank accounts or shared investments, you should make sure to separate your finances before your divorce is finalized. If you don’t, the actions of your ex-spouse may affect your credit score after the divorce, negatively impacting your ability to find a good mortgage rate. It’s also a good idea to remove your name from the mortgage on your current house so that you don’t end up being responsible for double payments each month.

Raise Your Credit Score

No matter what your mental, emotional, or financial state might be, raising your credit score is a surefire way to find a house at a more affordable price. The higher your credit score, the lower rates banks are willing to offer you on your mortgage. The easiest way to raise your score is simply by paying your bills on time, but you can also whittle down your debt, keep your credit balance low, and call your bank to settle any disputes on your record. You should also keep credit cards open, as closing accounts can increase your credit utilization ratio. 

In the months after a divorce, it can be a challenge to figure out your new living situation. If you plan on buying a house, it’s vital that you do your research before looking at local listings. By taking your time and understanding your finances, you can find your dream property at a price you can afford. 

Author of this article, Lucy Wyndham, is a freelance writer and former Financial Advisor. After a decade in industry, she took a step backward to spend more time with her family and to follow her love of writing.