It is a known fact that divorce is one of the most stressful and unpleasant events that a person can go through in life. As if the emotional issues are not enough, there are other crucial factors to deal with, like children, pets, finances, division of assets, and relocation — to mention only a few— all of which are coming to you at once. One of the most stressful parts is the process of having to sell your house during divorce, and choosing the right realtor can be a challenge.
Tips on Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent to Sell Your House During Divorce
Finding Someone You Can Trust
In many cases, trust is breached during divorce, which might lead to concerns about who you might be able to trust moving forward. You may feel unclear about the process to screen people who are presumably trustworthy, reliable, honest, and caring. especially when you feel his/her judgment was not always the best in the past. Divorce can even make a person who usually felt confident, strategic, intelligent, and well-organized, begin to doubt him/herself, simply because the emotional trauma is at the fore, which is typically common.
Like in any important business decision, screening and investigation of your options is critical to a successful outcome, particularly with such delicate matters as when you sell your house during divorce. When searching for the right real estate agent, your careful interviewing process will likely reveal a variety of styles and personalities, all of which are important. But nothing will be more important than finding the person you can trust — someone who understands and hears you, and who will protect you and accommodate you in every possible way.
Beginning the Process
When you sell your house during divorce, I recommend you begin the process by first reminding yourself that your instincts are better than you might be giving yourself credit for. Ask yourself: Have you seen the agent active in the neighborhood for years? Talk with friends and neighbors and read their online reviews. Next, speak with your trusted advisors including your attorney, your tax consultant or CPA; your personal financial planner or banker for ask for an additional referral.
You should definitely avoid a personal friend; someone you know from the gym or yoga class or a personal relative. Although, choosing a personal contact might feel like the obvious direction to go, and might also feel like an obligation you have toward a friend or family member, it is not a wise choice. You never want to feel guilty or obligated. Be mindful of the many sayings about not collaborating with a friend or family member — “don’t mix business with pleasure.” Keep your business totally separate from your private life.
Next, examine some other important considerations. For instance, the agent you choose will need to be an acceptable choice to both you and your soon-to-be ex. That agent will need to show a track record of being neutral rather than showing outright favoritism.
The next consideration: I suggest you feel 100% comfortable with your Agent. Make sure he is extremely conscious and considerate of your personal duties, family schedules, nap times, health issues, dinner hour, children, pets, and study schedules. Additionally, an agent needs to be flexible and willing to alter last-minute schedule changes and be able to show up for scheduled appointments to do what needs to be done for a showing, like make a bed or wash a few dishes in the sink and other tasks like that.
It’s also important to make sure your agent has flexibility and the willingness to make last-minute changes to get done what needs to get done, and, without attitude. Also, he or she needs to be resourceful. There’s a difference between an agent providing a list of referrals for a painter or handyman as opposed to the agent who personally arranges, meets and oversees a painter or handyman —an agent who can see a task through to final completion.
Most importantly, choose an agent who communicates particularly well, again without bias or favoritism. The spouse who may have already moved out deserves feedback equal to that of the “stay-in-the house spouse.” The latter is unfortunately often overlooked, making him or her rightfully angry. The “out-of-the-house spouse” should not have to inquire as to the results of an open house or how showings are going. Both parties should be given the results at roughly the same time when it comes to reporting in about open houses and showings. Each party deserves an equal amount of handholding throughout the process. The agent must be fully prepared to communicate twice, individually with each party, and if necessary, in strict confidence.
Neither party should be left to feel he/she is in the dark.
Your Agent Must be Consistent and Experienced
An agent needs to prove that he or she will be consistent in living up to the “stay neutral.” provision. Both spouses must feel comfortable that the agent is not on the other person’s side.
As a side note, a good agent for the job is also one who has handled many sales relative to divorce—one who knows how to handle the question: “Why are they selling?” He or she must do so without breaching confidentiality or telling a lie. In addition, the experienced agent may at times need to jump in to double as a mediator, always displaying diplomacy as he/she considers each party’s feelings, sense of pride, and emotions. The agent must be fully prepared to communicate twice, individually with each party, and if necessary, in strict confidence. Neither party should be left to feel they are in the dark.
Neither party should feel slighted or at a disadvantage. patience and diplomacy are the first order of business no matter how much of your agent’s time it might take. Everyone should be made to feel comfortable. Should a spouse feel, (imagined or not imagined) that something is going on behind his/her back, all bets are off, and the trust is likely to erode. This is where an agent’s integrity, experience and understanding of some psychology and emotional intelligence to assess the sellers’ feelings. The agent should also be ready to comfortably manage misappropriated anger and even an occasional tantrum. It happens.
Confident in Negotiation Skills to Sell Your House During Divorce
Finally, both spouses need to feel 100% confident and assured that their agent is a great negotiator for them as a seller who needs to get top dollar. Most divorcing couples are extremely price and expense conscious, knowing that their divorce can be financially depleting, and also that all proceeds will be split, with each having the need to have enough money to start a new life. For starters, finding separate places to live is very expensive and the agent not only must keep that in mind at all times, but must be prepared and ready to offer exceptional “hands-on” assistance to help each party find affordable housing within one’s projected budget.
For all the reasons above, it is extremely important to take the appropriate amount of time to interview a prospective agent carefully when you decide to sell your house during divorce. Keep in mind: At all times, the agent must be able to wear many hats and manage many moving parts. Check reviews carefully and be sure the agent has an excellent and proven track record for handling the needs of both parties when it comes to selling a home.
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