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Unique Ways to Buy Out a Spouse Interest in Real Estate

By Sunil Sethi, CPA (RETIRED)

Buying out your spouse's real estate
Buying out your spouse's real estate

Buying out a spouse's interest in real estate is a complex process that can be emotionally and financially draining. However, there are a number of unique ways to approach a buyout that can make it less stressful and more desirable for both parties.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Refinance the mortgage

If you have sufficient equity in your home, you may be able to refinance your mortgage and use the cash-out proceeds to buy out your spouse's interest. This can be a good option if you have good credit, can qualify for the loan on your income and are comfortable taking on the debt.

2. Sell a portion of your ownership interest

Another option is to sell a portion of your ownership interest in your home to a third party, such as a family member, friend, or investor. This can be a good way to raise the money you need to buy out your spouse without having to take on additional debt.

3. Use a seller carryback mortgage

If you are unable to refinance or sell a portion of your ownership interest, you may be able to negotiate a seller carryback mortgage with your spouse. This means that your spouse would agree to finance the buyout for you, and you would make monthly payments to them over a period of time. Sometimes these types of arrangement have a balloon cause, requiring you to pay back the loan in full in X years out.

4. Trade other assets

Trading assets will be easier if you aren't emotionally attached.
Trade Assets - It's Easier if You Don't Get Emotionally Involved

If you and your spouse have other assets, such as stocks, bonds, or retirement accounts, you may be able to trade those assets for your spouse's interest in the home. This can be a good option if you are trying to avoid having to sell your home or take on additional debt.

5. Get creative

There are a number of other creative ways to buy out a spouse's interest in real estate. For example, you may be able to agree to a payment plan that includes both monthly payments and a lump sum payment in the future. You may also be able to agree to give your spouse a percentage of the profits from the sale of the home at a later date.

No matter which approach you choose, it is important to have a clear and written agreement in place before you proceed with the buyout. This agreement should outline the terms of the buyout, including the amount of money being paid, the payment schedule, and any other relevant details.

Here are a few additional tips for buying out a spouse's interest in real estate:

  • Get an appraisal of the home to determine its fair market value. This will help you to negotiate a fair price for your spouse's interest. Sometimes each party will get their own appraisal and then negotiate a fair price to each.

  • Be prepared to compromise. It is unlikely that you will be able to get everything you want in a buyout. Be willing to give a little in order to reach an agreement that works for both of you.

  • Consider working with a mediator or divorce attorney. A mediator can help you to communicate with your spouse and negotiate an agreement that is fair to both of you. A divorce attorney can provide you with legal advice and represent you in court if necessary.

Buying out a spouse's interest in real estate can be a complex process, but it does not have to be stressful or expensive. By exploring your options and working with your spouse it can be a manageable and equitable process for both parties involved.

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