Sneaky tactics that can devalue the family home

Sometimes, when a marriage comes to an end there may be one party who just doesn’t want to move out of the family home. For some reason, either they can’t be bothered packing up and moving or they can’t detach emotionally from the family home. This will cause an impasse in divorce negotiations. It can also be the beginning of a nightmare especially if the family home is the major asset and must be sold to finalise the property settlement. If one party isn’t happy with the decision to sell the family home and/or they can’t afford to purchase the other half, they can seek to stall proceedings by making the property so unappealing that potential purchasers are put off and scared away. The types of sneaky tactics I am about to highlight, contribute to devaluing the asset, result in costly upgrades and delaying the property settlement. Even if you spend the money to resolve some of these issues, the costs incurred don’t necessarily equate to an increased sale value. A delayed property settlement may also mean one party could miss out on opportunities which were reliant of the original property selling and settling within a prescribed timeframe.

If a building looks a bit off it may be because any building additions are not in sync with the original building. There is nothing worse than an addition that looks like a pimple on a pumpkin rather than a seamless extension that brings new life to a property. We have all seen older style homes with more modern extensions at the rear leading out to a garden. These are not the sorts of additions I am speaking of here. I am speaking of ill-conceived additions that are tacked on and look disjointed; they may also be a clumsy brick extension to a wooden home.

Illegally constructed buildings, those without council and building permits, will significantly devalue a property. These types of buildings might be grannie flats, sheds, atriums, pergolas etc. The vendor’s statement must disclose any such constructions and provide the appropriate warranties, insurance and permit information. If this is not disclosed to the purchasers, the sale may stall and the vendors may find themselves liable for any costs incurred by the purchasers related to the signing of the contract. If by some chance the purchaser’s conveyance professional has not picked up on the existence of an illegally built structure on the property, the council may still prevent the transfer of land into the purchaser’s name if they become aware of any irregularities.

Partially completed renovations and DIY renovations gone wrong are nightmares to resolve when trying to put a property on the market. You will never realize a good price for your home when you are dealing with these issues. Sometimes builders disappear or an argument has ensued with them and they refused to return to the job. Alternatively, your money just plain ran out or your ex partner, who thought that DIY was a great idea at the time, ran out of steam and couldn’t finish the job; all this means you are left with a partially constructed building that isn’t worth what it should be.  I remember once attending an open for inspection in a bayside suburb. The home was a rabbit warren and this had clearly been done to the home for a reason, I just couldn’t figure out what that reason was. It was like a maze and you needed a map to find your way back to the start. These strange modifications can really put buyers off and if you are in the middle of a family law dispute may drag out your negotiations until you are exhausted and cannot continue the fight anymore thus accepting a reduced value.

Another sneaky tactic to devalue a home is a poorly maintained exterior. Painting the exterior in a vile colour, failing to attend to damaged guttering, falling fences, broken garden sheds and leaky roofs on garages can really bring down the value of a home. It is the face of the home that buyers first appraise and can influence immediately what they believe they will see inside the home. A garden showing clear signs of neglect such as uncut grass, a high concentration of weeds, over run vines, a distinct lack of pruning, an overgrown vegie patch, an old compost heap, a long abandoned chicken coop, a disused DIY water recycling system, broken garden pots, lifting outdoor tiles, animal faeces, unkempt animal enclosures, garden and household rubbish, a disused and rundown barbeque area or old brick fireplace, and the dumping of old cars or whitegoods can be a major deterrent to potential buyers. They have already started to calculate in their minds the costs, effort and time to be incurred to remove the mess.

If the outside of the family home hasn’t been devalued with these tactics then the inside may be the culprit. A filthy interior indicated by signs of odours (old cooking smells) and stenches (filthy toilets and old food rotting inside the kitchen sink plumbing), mould, evidence of rodents, broken or cracked windows and tiles, dirty kitchen and bathroom areas, interior clutter, stained carpets, broken fixtures, dripping taps, scuffed skirting boards, holes in walls due to door handles are nasties which can occur due to a determined ex who may not wish to move out or tenant, who may or may not, have been installed into the property for the very purpose of devaluing it.

If you, for whatever reason, decide to leave the family home and your ex partner remains in it. Have an agreement drafted in relation to the expectation of basic maintenance and repair to the property. Take photographs of the property in order that you have evidence of the original state of care it was left in. Include in any agreement that a failure to adhere to the conditions agreed to may mean the cost to repair any damage or neglect will be deducted from your ex partner’s share of the sale proceeds.

Protect your share of this asset it may be the largest one you will have in your lifetime.

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