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Realtors and Divorce

by | Feb 16, 2024 | Divorce

One often challenging issue in divorce is sorting out what will happen to the family residence.  I have written prior blogs about some of the options and considerations, including one spouse moving forward with a buyout, deferring the sale until the market is better or until school lets out, or until graduation, or having it sold.  In this week’s blog I am going to address some considerations involved when the couple decides to have the house sold.  More particularly I am going to focus on some considerations in selecting a Realtor to handle the sale, on the best ways to use your selected Realtor and some other considerations in making this important decision.  In preparing to write this blog I had the opportunity to meet with an experienced and fabulous Realtor, Shylia Hernandez, part of the Lewis Team with REAL Broker.


Selecting a Realtor.  There are a number of considerations when choosing a Realtor to handle the sale of the family home in a divorce.  You obviously want someone who is good at what they do and has extensive knowledge and experience in the neighborhood where your house is located, the trends in the market and good connections to potential buyers and the industry.  You want your Realtor to be responsive, proactive, and committed to doing what it takes to get your house listed and sold.  


Neutrality.  In a divorce situation where there may be conflict between the couple, it is extremely important for the Realtor to understand the importance of remaining neutral and recognizing that their responsibility is to act on behalf of both spouses.  This does not mean that they cannot call out either spouse for behaving inappropriately, or unreasonably.  It does mean they have to maintain clear and open communication with both spouses, consider the input of both spouses and proceed with the best interests of both spouses in mind.  You would expect this same treatment in any circumstances, it just becomes all the more important when the marriage has broken down.  


Providing Sage Advice and Guidance.  In sitting down with Shylia my eyes were really opened to all the various considerations that go into the listing and sale of a home.  It is extremely important that both spouses are able to put their trust in the expertise of the Realtor to make decisions that will accomplish getting the house sold in a reasonable period of time and at the highest profit possible.  Let’s go through a few of these considerations…


Timing of Listing.  In speaking with Shylia she mentioned that, statistically speaking, the best time to sell a home is in the springtime.  She indicates that while March and April are the best times to sell a home, November and December are usually the worst.  Sometimes in a divorce the circumstances leave little room for being selective about when the house will get listed.  If there is flexibility in when you will list, it will be a good idea to consult your Realtor about the best timing to take advantage of when the market is at its best.


Decluttering, Cleaning and Painting.  Working with your Realtor to present your home in the best light is an important part of the process, and it is invaluable to work with a professional who will serve as a guide in this regard.  Shylia mentions three important, and relatively inexpensive considerations when readying a home for sale; decluttering, cleaning and painting.  Getting rid of clutter makes the home feel more spacious.  Removing much of the stuff allows for the potential buyers to look in the home and see themselves living in it.  The value of having the home clean and presentable is self explanatory.  If a prior paint job is loud or dark, covering it with a more neutral color is a relatively inexpensive way to make it more attractive to the potential buyer.  Consult your Realtor for insights on what colors work best and where the focus should be.  One more of Shylia’s quick and easy fixes…mow the lawn and clean up outside clutter.  Having a Realtor like Shylia who has experience and insight about what works best is an important consideration as you choose the Realtor to work with.


Other Improvements.  In Shylia’s work with divorcing couples she has seen a wide range of perspectives between spouses on how they should approach investing money in making improvements to attempt to get more money from the sale.  When the couple has differing degrees of willingness to invest in improvements it becomes all the more important that you have selected a Realtor that you both trust and value their judgment.  If you hire the right professional they will be able to weigh in on simple, perhaps low cost improvements to make the house show better and which will be good investments.  Before spending any money, engage a Realtor and get their input on what improvements might deliver the best return.


Staging.  We have already gone over a variety of steps you can take to best present your home to the potential buyers.  Another valuable piece of guidance you can get from the Realtor arranging furniture to make it present well.  This may involve clearing all your stuff out and bringing in some new fancy items, or simply clearing out some of your stuff (decluttering previously mentioned) and arranging what remains in a way that presents well.  You should be able to count on your Realtor to provide options and guide the work.


Listing Price, Offers, Acceptance and Negotiation.  To accomplish a timely sale of your home at a reasonable price it is important that your Realtor be up to speed on the trends for the area so the home can be listed at an appropriate price.  An experienced attorney will be able to guide you and your spouse when considering the offers that come in, and in making counter offers when appropriate.  Hiring a Realtor with a reputation for being professional, responsive, knowledgeable and hard working will let you rest assured that the sale of your home is in good hands. 


Selecting a Realtor to handle the sale of your home is another of the important decisions to make in your divorce.  For all the reasons stated above, it is critical to get a professional in place who you and your spouse can trust and rely on to help you in navigating the process.  Consider bringing in that professional sooner rather than later, so they can shed light on timing, preparation, and all the other considerations that go into getting the best return on the sale of your home.