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Does the Real Estate Market Make Now the Right Time to Separate?


As the old adage goes, timing is everything. While there may never be a right time to get divorced, there certainly can be a better time.

As the New York Courts have succinctly put it, marriage is an economic partnership. The decision to separate, like winding down any other partnership, comes with its inherent challenges. The parties must work through issues relating to custody of their childrenspousal and child support, and the equitable division of the parties’ property.

One of the biggest decisions the parties will need to make relates to their post-divorce living situation. This is impacted by many factors, including how much money the parties have to divide and where their children will attend school.

The changes in the real estate market both during and after COVID-19 is a new factor that will need to be part of the discussion.

Let’s start with renting. For those couples with children who live in New York City and are considering separating, the soft New York City rental market can prove to be a huge advantage. The parent who is moving out of the martial residence should be able to find a rental apartment within close proximity for a price that would seem outrageously low back in February.

According to the Manhattan Rental Report, rental prices for 2-bedroom apartments in buildings with a doorman have decreased by 12.3% as compared to this time last year. Not only does this make renting economical, but it also allows for parenting plans to be easily created, achieving stability for the children of divorcing couples.

What about couples considering separation who live in the suburbs? For those couples, now is a great time to sell the suburban marital residence. People who live in New York City are flocking to areas where they can have more space and a home office.

According to Houlihan Lawrence, the number of luxury homes sold in Westchester County rose by 52% this year over the third quarter of 2019. For a separating couple, the proceeds may be used to purchase two residences in close proximity to each other. Add in the historically low interest rates on residential mortgages that exist in today’s pandemic ridden world and selling the marital residence is something to discuss and consider.

Importantly, the purchase of two suburban homes would afford both parents the opportunity see their children frequently and consistently, even after separation. Parenting plans are often very contentious when couples are separating and one of the reasons why this occurs often centers around the living arrangements going forward post-separation. Getting a great price for the sale of a suburban marital residence affords the parties with more funds to allocate to their new, separate residences and alleviate some of these concerns.

What about couples with a vacation home? These couples are in a great spot to make a serious chunk of change on renting the home out and on the sale of the house. In the second quarter of 2020, given the effect of COVID-19, average sale price houses in the Hamptons shot up 21% over this time last year according to the Elliman report. Further, inventory went down 25.5%. Selling a vacation home right now can give you the funds needed to start your new separate lives.

There are many aspects of a divorce that are difficult. However, finding ways to increase the parties’ overall economic condition can help make other decisions less challenging. Properly navigating the COVID real estate market is a good place to start. If you are contemplating divorce, now might be an economical time to do so.

At Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein, LLP, our experienced divorce attorneys address all your questions and concerns regarding assets distribution and child-related issues during a divorce. We provide knowledgeable guidance to clients in New York City, Westchester, and New Jersey. Schedule your consultation today by calling (212) 466-6015 or reaching out to us through our contact form.