I know it’s a tough time, with way too much going on, but at the end of the day – you and your kids need a new place to live. Nobody gets married and has children thinking they will be a single parent someday. But in today’s reality it happens and it happens quite often. When a marriage ends there are so many pieces that need to be figured out. It can be such an emotional time (regardless of how amicable the break up is). Trust me, I know! I went through many feelings of frustration, fear of the unknown, and sometimes just being completely overwhelmed. Our friends and family step in and help with the emotional support but I learned very quickly that I needed a bit more than that. I needed a good lawyer, an accountant, a bank advisor and a good realtor.
One of the first things that will need to be ironed out is, will either one of you be staying in the family house? In my case, the decision was made to put the house up for sale. While this can bring on all kinds of feelings, I also took it as an opportunity for a fresh start. Believe it or not, it can be quite fun! When I was looking at houses it was all about me (and the kids, but there was no way I was getting input from 3 children). Before you can start looking for a new home, you will need to make sure that you have your finances in order. Having a good lawyer that can help you work out the details of your separation as quickly as possible (while still keeping it fair and as stree-free as possible) will be very helpful.
As with anytime you are looking to buy a house, it is good to have your list of musts and wants. For example, a must for me was to be within the kids’ school boundaries. I didn’t want them to have to change schools. As a single mom it is very important to me that I use my time wisely, and that includes not driving across town to drop them off and pick them up at school every day. I did not have many must haves on my list. Location and budget were the most important factors to me.
I definitely would not have even started the process without going to the bank and having a firm pre-approved mortgage. I had it broken down to what my payments would be if I used the maximum amount. I planned a budget for what my other monthly expenses would be so that I knew I was going to be comfortable being a one-income household. This can help take some of that fear away.
The next thing I did was found myself a Realtor I knew I could trust to help me find the right home within my budget. I wanted someone who would be sensitive to the different emotions I was going through while still being able to guide me in the right direction. I was anxious to buy but didn’t want to jump into the first house I saw unless it was right for myself and the kids. I also needed to trust her to look for the things I would not necessarily think of. I didn’t want to worry about the furnace, the windows, the deck, the roof, even though they are all important. She left me to the layout and imagining my kids living there and let me daydream about how I would decorate and furnish it.
Something I kept in mind was that the house I was looking for was not going to be my forever home. It was going to be my ‘fresh start’ home. Somewhere the kids and I could be happy while moving forward in our new lives.
I never hope for anyone to find themselves in the situation of splitting up from their spouse, but if you do, please take a deep breath and know that there are things a great Realtor can help to ease a bit of the stress. It’s a difficult time to be sure, but it is also a chance for a new start. I prefer to focus on the positive side of this period of change!