Real Estate Agent and Trainer, Robert Rico, explains how real estate agents should handle selling a property of a couple who are divorced or going through a divorce. Do you want to see more video blogs? Subscribe here!
The question that is on the table is: how should real estate agents handle the sale of a house with two divorcees?
When you are dealing with a listing, you are going to be dealing with a seller (of course). One of the important things to figure out about your sellers is their motivation for selling. It can be a work relocation, moving to a different part of town, or upgrading houses — like getting a bigger home for a growing family. However, most of the time, these sellers are very willing to work with you and with the potential buyers to get the house sold. They are usually in a good place, anticipating their next home — and in today’s hot market, probably anticipating a good payout from their sale!
Every once in a while, though, you come across a different motivation for selling — a divorce. Unlike the situations above, people divorcing are usually not in the best of spirits, and don’t have that typical outlook on the future as the average seller. Depending on the individual divorce, it may almost be like you are managing two deals at once on the same listing. If the sellers are not together and making decisions separately, you may even be facing conflicting decisions about which offer to take or how to price the home.
There are some steps you should take before accepting a listing from a divorcing couple.
- First, you want to check the title on the house. Most houses in California (owned by couples) are owned as community property, which means that both halves of the couple have an equal interest in the property. If it’s community property, you hope it’s an amicable divorce! If not, it can be tough to go back and forth between both parties trying to broker a deal.
- Next, assuming that you have to deal with both parties, and they are amicable enough, remember that you should NEVER take sides. You are a professional real estate agent, you are not there to mediate their divorce. Your job is to get their house sold! However, sometimes they will draw you into the drama and that’s when you have to play counselor for a little bit. This is why…
- Finally, always keep it neutral with your divorcing clients. They are both equals on the title, so you should treat both equally — the issues that led to the divorce are none of your business and not relevant to the sale of the home. Another key component of that is to always keep both sides equally informed. If you have to communicate with both of them separately, make sure that you’re telling each of them the same data as the other.
Keeping it neutral, equal, and unbiased is the best way to focus on your goal — selling the property like the real estate professional that you are!
Another key thing to keep in mind is that the couple will need to discuss certain things amongst themselves, without you involved, before they can give you an answer. This will apply to things like the listing price, which offer to take, and how much money to spend on the home’s appearance before it goes on the market. Even though they might be fighting, that is not really your area of interest.
It’s best to give divorcing couples some time and space when it comes to the big decisions on the house. Since they might not be making decisions as a unit anymore, it’s important that they come to a reasonable consensus that pleases both of them.
To reiterate — first, hope they are amicable. If so, great. If not, though, always remain professional. You are unbiased, detached, and not part of the couple. Keep them both informed equally, and never take sides. Give them space when necessary, and focus on your goal — to sell the house at the best possible price!