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Finding a Real Estate Agent During a Divorce

2020 – a year that will go down in history for the COVID pandemic and quarantine, murder hornets, a turbulent racial climate, economic recession, skyrocketing unemployment… and it’s only June. There have been constant projections of the dangers of the coronavirus, and a consistent message saying STAYING HOME SAVES LIVES. But rarely has it been discussed the risks of doing just that. 

One of those risks has hit home for a lot of people. Divorce. With most families forced to live, work, homeschool, eat, sleep, play, all under one roof all of the time, couples have faced more challenges, with less access to resources and a low bandwidth to manage all of it. Relationship coach Lee Wilson cites his own survey of couples (conducted in late April and including 734 respondents) for his assessment that COVID quarantines are exposing couples who already have poor relationship dynamics. His survey found that about one-third (31%) of couples said the quarantine had harmed their relationship.

Whether COVID-related or not, if you find yourself feeling like your relationship is at stake and a divorce is imminent, the help of a knowledgeable and experienced Real Estate Divorce Specialist is essential in navigating how to handle your most valuable asset – your home. 

Finding a real estate agent during a divorce can feel taxing, but is a critical consideration. 

Why Find a Real Estate Divorce Specialist?

Simply put, not every real estate agent is well-equipped to handle your divorce-related home sale. Some are just not experienced at selling houses, while others don’t quite grasp the severity of your situation.

Your Real Estate Divorce Specialist will be one of your biggest allies in making sure each partner is heard. This will help make your tenuous situation as painless as possible. 

Some Things to Consider when Selling a Home During a Divorce

  • Real estate is not a liquid asset: This means that it cannot be easily split or quickly cashed out. You will need to weigh the sale options to determine how your equity will be split.   
  • Sale options: There are a few scenarios I discuss in this video that are common options for splitting the equity in your property. Going into the sale, your agent can help you weigh which option is best for your relationship and goals. 
  • Community Property vs Equitable Distribution: it is important to understand whether your state is a community property or equitable distribution state. Equitable distribution is the allocation of property and debt obligations when dividing marital property during divorce proceedings. This does not mean a 50/50 split, but instead, a “fair” distribution. California is a Community Property state, NOT an equitable distribution state. According to the laws of community property, spouses are deemed to equally own all income and assets earned or acquired during the marriage. This means both spouses equally own all money earned by either during the marriage, even if only one spouse was working. Additionally, all property acquired during the course of the union with “community” money is considered owned equally by the couple, regardless of who actually bought it.

Finding a Real Estate Agent During a Divorce

In this post, I talk about weighing the options of selling before or after a divorce. If a divorcing couple decides that the best option is to sell the home immediately, it is very important that a Realtor who has experience in dealing with selling homes during divorces is hired. 

What to Look For in a Real Estate Divorce Specialist

  • Experience: Personally, I have a Certified Divorce Specialist Designation and have worked with dozens and dozens of divorcing couples. I am more in tune with the legal, tax, and financial implications of selling a home during a divorce. Your real estate divorce specialist should have the same level of expertise.
  • Communication: Often, it’s hard enough trying to get married couples on the same page. It is even more difficult to help divorcing couples agree when tensions and emotions are high. Find an agent that can communicate well, and can be a neutral, diplomatic resource for both parties so nobody feels excluded or trumped.
  • Creativity: There are challenges unique to the divorce realm that can come up during a sale. You need someone who is able to navigate those obstacles effectively and make an already tenuous situation as seamless as possible.
  • Confidentiality: Sometimes being outright with your divorce sale can put you at a negotiating disadvantage. Make sure your agent understands when to use discretion when finding a buyer.

Finding a Real Estate Divorce Specialist

  • Consult your divorce attorney: Your divorce attorney is a great resource! They have likely worked alongside agents they trust can close the sale successfully and conclude a win for both partners.  
  • Interview different agents: Ask questions that reference their experience working with divorcees, how they communicate with both parties, and success stories they have had in helping couples.  
  • Ask family or friends: Orange County, California has one of the highest divorce rates in the nation. You may have local family or friends that can recommend a great real estate divorce specialist. 

Final Thoughts

Navigating a divorce is often a tumultuous experience, let alone hashing out all of the details of your future. Finding an experienced, professional agent will help make a terrible situation go as smoothly as possible. 

If you are amidst a separation, I’d love to talk with you about how to sell your home so that both you and your partner can feel more confident as you head into different directions. 

Contact me today for a free consultation! 

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