How to sell your house and move with a blended family
In recent years, shows like Modern Family and The Fosters have brought public attention to the concept of ‘blended families.’ A blended family is when two partners make a life together with children from one or both of the two’s previous marriages. This is also sometimes referred to as a step-family. According to Dr. Jeannette Lofas, president and founder of The Stepfamily Foundation, “Today, 60 percent of families live in some form of divorced or stepfamily relationship.” One notable feature of blended families typically is the lack of marital status. Buying and selling homes as a family is complicated enough. However, buying and selling a home as partners instead of spouses adds another set of hoops to jump through. To ensure your families merge together smoothly, consider these tips when selling your house and moving in together.
Getting the title
Couples that are married typically hold house titles as ‘joint tenants.’ For unmarried couples living together however, the process is a bit more complicated. For unmarried couples there are actually three different ways to secure a house title. First, they can get it under a joint tenancy whereby each party owns an equal portion of the property they’re purchasing together. Under this, when one owner the other gets full ownership of the home.
Another option is getting the title under what’s called ‘tenancy in common.’ This method allows multiple buyers to own the home together but allows either party to sell their interest or pass it on to a beneficiary when they die.
The third option is to obtain the title under a living trust. Trusts are used to securely pass down assets to beneficiaries. Trusts allow whoever controls the trust, the trustees, to directly dictate what happens to their stake in the property after their passing. Additionally beneficial for unmarried couples is that trusts stand up much better in court should ownership be challenged. Trusts, legally speaking, are considered rock solid.
Arranging your title as a blended family is important in both the buying and selling process. In some instances, one party may want to move while another wants to retain their interest in the property. Consult a lawyer when moving as a blended family to look over your options.
Pick the right location
If you’re moving in as a blended family in a new location, there’s a good chance you’re going to be selling two separate homes. It’s possible then that you’ll be selling in two different markets which can be complicated depending on the state of the markets. Give yourselves plenty of time and plan accordingly. Picking a location depends on a variety of different factors. Especially if there are children involved, schools are a major deciding factor for families, blended or otherwise.
If only one family intends to move, if there are young children in the mix, experts recommend that the family with the younger children makes the move. Part of this is also related to school systems. Ideally the goal is to ensure that all the kids can be in the same school system. When changing neighborhoods to merge families, typically the kids that have to give up their school and neighborhood friends feel most slighted. When picking a location, also keep in mind the proximity to the children’s biological parents. Depending on the arrangement, you’ll still want to make moving back and forth between parents’ easy and not too disruptive.
In some instances you may need to hold onto one of the properties longer than anticipated. Consider renting out one house temporarily. Another option is to sell your house to a wholesaler and receive an instant cash offer for your home.
Make sure all your finances are in order
Merging families can be a tricky process financially. In many cases you’ll be splitting budgets which in theory could double your total budget. However, there are numerous things to consider when creating a blended family. First thing, before looking at homes together, make sure everything from your divorce process is finalized. You will not be able to get a loan without a divorce decree. You should also take care of any real estate matters from prior marriages before you start looking at houses.
Additionally, both parties will want to fully disclose financial situations. It’s possible one side is bringing more to the table than the other. Consider what your retirement plans are and what your funds for retirement look like and budget accordingly.
Bond as a family
Lastly, when moving in as a blended family, above all else, make sure you spend quality time together beforehand. Especially when children are involved, blending families can be an overwhelming process. Psychologists specializing in stepfamily relations recommend allowing the kids to actively be involved in decorating of the new house, enabling them to feel at home. Even if everyone gets along at the time of the move, the process as a whole can be overwhelming for children. Also be sure to allow children to have time alone with their biological parents. Do things together to bond your newly forged family unit to make everyone feel welcome.
Selling a home and moving in with a blended family sounds complicated, but with careful planning and attending to each individual’s needs throughout the process, it can be incredibly rewarding. Be well prepared for the entire process from selling your home to buying a new one with the proper title.