When I first met my clients back in April, I recall sitting at the kitchen table, talking to them about their plans and goals for selling their home. What I quickly learned was that after two years of going through the divorce process, this couple had finally agreed it was time to sell the family home. As difficult as it was, they knew It was best for everyone to move on. It’s a scenario that happens all too often.

Truth be told, as an agent, this life circumstance always tugs at my heart strings a little because I know these are good people whose relationship didn’t work out for some reason. I am no therapist but, can say that divorce affects the whole family – even extended family. That’s what happened in my family anyway, when a family member went through a divorce with small children in the mix. The process was long. It was emotional. It was hard for everyone. And, it was that circumstance in my own family that made me want to help others similar situations.

Divorce is stressful. So is selling a home, buying a home, and moving. When combined, it can feel overwhelming.

 

 

Here are 5 tips that I recommend to clients who are selling a home due to a divorce:

 

1 – Set realistic expectations. 

Understand that the whole process will take time. Sometimes, you only need to sell a house. Other times, you need to buy a new one. Sometimes, only one person is moving; sometimes, both people are moving. Every situation is different, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Up front discussions about ideal timing and plans for the next stage will help you have a clear head when it’s time to sell. I often even suggest couples agree on a minimum selling price, or the bottom line net figure that will be acceptable, along with any absolute required terms for selling before listing the home. This will help with negotiations when you do get an offer.

*******************************************

2 – Be prepared to do your part. 

At some point, you agreed that selling the home as part of the divorce was a good idea. Understand that selling a home takes more than simply putting a sign in the yard. Selling a home successfully takes both preparation & cooperation from sellers and agents alike.

Preparation from sellers involves cleaning up, clearing out, preparing the house for open houses and buyer showings.  Cooperation involves coordinating who will care for children and pets during showings as well as who will be the point of contact for scheduling appointments, paperwork, giving updates, etc. Many steps are involved in selling real estate so, rely on your agent to direct you accordingly on the things you will need to do to push the process along.

*******************************************

3 – Meet with and agree upon a real estate agent together. 

No one deserves to feel slighted, like no one is working on their behalf. Whether intentional or not, that can happen when one person picks the “family member” or “friend” who is in real estate to sell the house.

Ideally, you want to hire a neutral third party who understands what you are going through, is empathetic, and patient. Someone who has worked with couples who are separating or divorcing. Someone who understands the local and state real estate laws when it comes to listing a house for sale. Someone who listens to and understands the needs of all members of the family.

A possible source for a professional recommendation in your area: your therapist, mediator, or attorney.

*******************************************

4 – Communicate as a team.

This goes both ways between you and your agent. When you are honest, up front, and transparent with your agent, he/she can do the best job for you with the aim of reaching your goals on your timeline.

Likewise, you want an agent who will openly communicate with you both throughout the process on the mutual transaction (think: updates, showings, offers). You also want your agent to remain confidential on any separate transactions that involves only one party (think: buying a new house on your own.)

*******************************************

5 – Listen to the advice of your agent. 

Ultimately, it is your house, your deal, your decision. I get that. And a good agent will not tell you what to do. They will merely offer options and the most fitting advice for your situation. But, divorce tends to be very emotional, especially when children are involved. By remembering that your agent can offer a fresh, strictly professional, less involved-in-the-emotions-of-this-life-change perspective, you may be able to sell the house and be ready to move on faster. Ask yourself if would be best to step back and take the advice of a professional in order to take the next step.

*******************************************

Sadly, divorce happens all too often these days. For my clients, while there were ups and downs along the way over the five-month span of preparing to sell and buy new, today they took the next steps in their new chapter of life. They got through it. They are grateful for the help provided during a major, challenging time in life; I am grateful to have met them and been able to help them through this life event.

If you or someone you know is going through a divorce and is faced with some big decisions about their housing options, reach out for help. With a good action plan in place, at least one step of a difficult process may not be so difficult after all.

Share your comments below. Until next time…