Should I Keep Or Sell The House?

by
 India Kern
September 16, 2020

Should I Keep Or Sell The House?

India Kern

One of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make when getting divorced is whether you should keep or sell your home.  But, it’s also an emotional decision.   Divorce coach, India Kern, shows us how to make a smart decision about keeping or selling your home while balancing the emotional aspects with the financial needs.   This post originally appeared on India Kern’s blog.

Do you get upset when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear, even when you know it is the truth?

I’ll be the first to admit that I do! The biggest financial decision I ever made was based on my emotions. It was 2011, I was facing divorce, trying my best to navigate the ends and outs of something that I knew nothing about, nor wanted anything to do with. But the time had come to make a crucial decision. 

Should I keep or sell the house? 

I sought advice from professionals for my decision. Both my attorney and financial planner told me to sell the family home, explaining that it was a huge burden that I needed to unload. I didn’t listen.

How could they ask me to sell the only house that my children could remember?! Divorce itself was already a gigantic disruption to my girls, now they want me to do what?! I resisted. I wouldn’t budge. I said no! My mind was made up.

Was it the most logical decision that I have ever made? Absolutely not, but in the end, I was extremely fortunate to be able to keep it. I was one of the lucky ones. 

Studies show that up to ninety percent of the decisions we make are based on our emotions, not on our logic. The emotional ties we have to our possessions can get us into debt, and even financial ruin.

I made a decision based on how it made me feel. My intuition told me to hold on, but how do we know if we are making the most rational decision amid peak stress?

I have learned over the years that when I am fearful of the next step forward, the best way to combat the “unknown” is to educate myself and ask the right questions. Author James Ryan says, “Questions are like keys. The right question, asked at the right time, will open a door to something you don’t know yet, something you haven’t realized or something that you haven’t even considered – about others and yourself.” The right questions ideally will be followed by reliable answers.

You must also question your intention behind the decision. Are you keeping the house because your son took his first steps there? This would be an emotional decision based on a sentimental attachment to a possession. A house doesn’t make a home. The laughter inside, the children sitting around the kitchen table, the sweet smells of dinner that hit you when you walk through the front door make a house a home. And you can create a home anywhere because you have done it before; the intangible and irreplaceable things travel with you. The love, joy and peace which make a home go wherever you go. Far too many times, we are making decisions that do not serve our best interest but make us feel good at that moment. It doesn’t feel good to part with the family home, but if keeping the house will deplete your nest egg, you’re ultimately hurting yourself. 

Let me ask you, would you change the oil in your car? Unless you’re a mechanic, I’m assuming the answer is no, so why would you alone make the biggest decision of your life without understanding ALL of your options? When we remain in the dark, we imagine different storylines, oftentimes jumping to the worst-case scenario. We experience unnecessary stress as if the calamity happened, but you don’t have to.

There are qualified professionals that can help you make solid, wise decisions in this time of high stress. For example, a divorce coach focuses on your emotional well-being so that you are prepared to make the important decisions of divorce. There are also real estate agents that specialize in divorce who can educate you on your specific real estate options. 

The decisions we make are only as good as the information we have. Lean on the professionals, as they can be the key that unlocks that door you may not be aware of just yet.

Simply put, when we know better, we do better.

5 Ways to Make a Solid Decision in Stressful Times

  • Gather the facts and seek guidance from a professional 
  • Be open to all the information presented to you, even the ones you don’t like
  • Set monetary thresholds
  • Sleep on it
  • Do not rush the decision


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