Today I’m going to talk about some of the huge mistakes that couples getting a divorce typically make when it’s time for them to choose a Realtor to sell their matrimonial home.
#1: Fighting over a Realtor or refusing to hire a particular Realtor just because your spouse recommended them.
What I am about to say next is based on the assumption that your disagreement is over a particular Realtor who is not a relative or personal friend and who is in fact a Divorce real estate specialist or Real Estate Divorce specialist.
Let’s assume your soon to be Ex has suggested a Realtor who meets these two criteria.
I have seen time and time again that many people fight or disagree for the wrong reasons.
Here is what I mean. If your spouse suggested a particular Realtor then you might not trust that Realtor or even be willing to consider them simply because you fear that the Realtor will choose sides with your spouse.
Or, if you’re fighting for hiring that Realtor of your choice then you might think it gives you more control over the real estate process.
In fact both theories are wrong and here is why.
Firstly, there are no sides to choose.
Only the family lawyer picks a side because they must defend or look out for his or her own client.
In real estate however BOTH parties are my client… Not just one of you.
And it’s none of my business as your Realtor why the marriage is ending or who did what.
It’s not my place to judge. It’s not my place to pick sides.
In fact as a “Divorce Real Estate Specialist” it is my duty and obligation to avoid any bias or judgment or choosing sides in any way.
In fact, that is why most clients say they have hired me over choosing their relative or friend who was a Realtor and why many family lawyers also be for their clients to me when they can’t agree on a Realtor themselves.
It’s my duty to give both of you my full fiduciary duties, my full attention, and my best efforts to sell your property for the most money possible.
Alternatively, if you think that you pick the Realtor that you have more control over then you are also wrong.
The reason is that on any real estate document or real estate form, whether you want to;
- list a property for sale, or
- select an asking price, or
- make a price change if necessary, or
- change anything at all for that matter,
- including of course accepting an offer from a buyer,
… you both MUST sign all appropriate forms and documents in order for there to be an agreement and for anything to be legally binding.
Without both signatures no Realtor can legally do what just one party wants to do without the other parties consent.
As a Real Estate Divorce Specialist with a proven track record of integrity, no spouse has ever been able to convince me to change a price, or change showing instructions, or accept an offer of any dollar amount, unless I obtain signatures from both spouses.
Another fear that people have is not about control over the process of selling a matrimonial home, but instead control over the money.
People think erroneously that if they choose the Realtor of their choice then they will control the money when it is received from the sale of the house.
And if you are worried about agreeing to hire the Realtor who your spouse recommended, then you likely fear or don’t trust that your spouse might get money or get control of the money, that is ultimately due to you.
Both of these theories are also not true.
What many people simply don’t realize or forget is that when you sell real estate it’s not like selling a bicycle on Kijiji or Craigslist.
It’s not done in such a way that some stranger comes to your driveway or meet you in a parking lot and hands over cash or e-transfer to you.
When you sell real estate the money from the sale of your matrimonial home is paid to your real estate lawyer.
That money is held in the Lawyers “Trust” account.
And the real estate lawyer will not release any funds whatsoever (to anyone) unless;
- there is a Court Order instructing him / her as to who gets white, or
- a finalized separation agreement which is agreed to and signed by both parties and both family lawyers, where all parties agree on exactly who gets what funds.
Often those documents would also be accompanied with a Letter of Direction to the Real Estate Lawyer from your Divorce Lawyer.
Regardless of how persuasive you might be or how persuasive you fear your spouse can be, the Real Estate Lawyer will hold all funds in Trust until the above criteria are met.
So, to summarize, people who are getting a divorce & selling a matrimonial home often hire (or don’t hire) a Realtor for the wrong reasons.
Here is what people should be focused on.
The problem can be hiring a Realtor who is not a Divorce Real Estate Specialist and who cannot remain impartial & unbiased.
Sometimes a Realtor will tell you that they don’t pick sides or won’t pick sides.
Especially if you want your relative or friend to be your Realtor.
Sometimes they still might naturally pick sides without even realizing it.
But what many Realtors who do not specialize in divorce real estate will in fact do simply [because it’s human nature] is they’ll choose the path of least resistance.
If the Realtor does not have the training, experience, confidence and skills, required to remain unbiased and know how to deal with conflict, then what can happen is, when one spouse IS easy-going & agreeable, yet the other spouse is irate, irritable, or confrontational, the Realtor might only communicate with the spouse who’s easier to deal with.
Some Realtors don’t want conflict or harassment and they aren’t specifically trained on how to deal with it.
It can be only natural for them to gravitate towards communicating with the spouse who is easier to communicate with.
As a divorce real estate specialist I understand that my job isn’t just to sell the house.
Even if one spouse is more stressful to deal with my job is to communicate fairly and equally with both spouses. They’re both my client.
My job is to facilitate communication between myself and each of them and to de-escalate the tension if necessary, to keep them both focused on the goal and able to make important decisions regarding the sale of the property.
I suggest you should be more focused on choosing a Realtor who can prove their past record of integrity and who can prove a history of successfully dealing with both sellers equally and all of the time in a divorce.
And it helps if they have the communication skills necessary to deal with different personality types who are going through an emotionally volatile time.
If you need to hire a Realtor who claims to be a Divorce Real Estate Specialist then don’t just take their word for it.
Just because they’ve given themselves a title doesn’t mean they have the necessary skills and qualifications.
Here are some simple questions you can ask when you first speak to a Realtor or interview them if you’re considering hiring them.
#1. What actually makes you a divorce real estate specialist? There is no right or wrong answer here but it is laying the groundwork for the following questions.
#2. In question #1 if they said they are passionate about it that doesn’t make them a specialist but it is a typical answer.
So the next question here is for you to ask them for specific examples of knowledge or specific things they need to know as a specialist that other generalists in real estate don’t know or wouldn’t be aware of in divorce situations.
#3. Ask what skills they have that other generalists don’t have or don’t even know about.
And please pay attention to the difference between height and actual skills.
If they say they have patience as one of their skills please understand that is a character trait and not a skill.
It’s also something that everyone says and let’s face it, patience is needed in every situation, not just divorce.
That is not a skill that is special to divorce. They really need to be more specific.
#4. Ask how they got into the divorce Real Estate specialty?
There is no right or wrong answer. This is where hopefully they can stop following a script and speak authentically if they truly are a specialist.
Here’s another tip for you. If you can see from someone’s passion and body language and tone of voice along with the details they share with you that they are being or seeming authentic and not just giving you a sales script or canned speech, then they likely are a specialist.
Here’s another tip… What they should do is tell you personal stories about something they went through on a professional basis with past clients, which began introducing them to the new knowledge and new skills which were required at the time of each past experience, specifically for people going through divorce.
In other words, if they say when their parents got divorced they knew they were going to help everyone they can and divorce … well that’s really sweet but it doesn’t make them a specialist. It makes them a very nice person who wants to help.
But if they say eight years ago I had a client and when they met with the client here she was going through a complicated divorce. And during the time working together with that client they encountered “this”, and of course they explain the details of what “this” entails.
Or, they encountered “that” where of course they explain the full details of what “that” entailed.
And then if they were to explain that they learned how to handle all of those situations as a result of their experience and the end result was “X” for their clients, those are the details you’re looking for.
Look for specific details that might apply to your situation.
Notice if there are general statements or personalized specific statements.
And perhaps the Realtor might conclude with something like “over time and after working with more and more clients who were getting divorced they continue to encounter unique scenarios with every divorcing client that they had and as a result continued to add to their knowledge and skills in all aspects of selling a matrimonial home in divorce.
Well these answers highlight their knowledge and skills for you you can also tell from the uniqueness and authenticity of their stories that they do specialize in what you need.
They definitely have more knowledge and skill and ability to help you then their colleagues who merely generalize in real estate.
That is what you’re looking for and that is what is hard to find.
Another tip for you… When you’re deciding if you should interview a particular person or you want to believe someone during your interview with them, always apply the “I should hope so test”.
A Realtor who says I get you the most money for your house. “I should hope so”, right???
But then divorce a Realtor is selling someone single largest asset along with many logistical and legal variables that are different in the sale of a matrimonial home from a typical real estate sale.
Sometimes a spouse might be in denial.
Or they might have control issues.
So they may pretend to be in agreement with selling the matrimonial home but ultimately they will try to block the sale or sabotage the sale by strategically interfering with showings with buyers, or interfering with appointments for buyers, so that the house will ultimately not sell.
Or in other cases they might intend to refuse excepting any reasonable offers when you ultimately receive an offer.
Remember that you both must be in agreement in order to accept the offer or the offer dies.
If you want to interview a Realtor and know if they really are a divorce specialist and if they can handle these types of circumstances if they might apply in your situation then after you ask the previous questions I outlined about how they became a divorce real estate specialist and how they are different, then your interview questions should be something specific like… how are you as a Realtor going to determine if my soon to be Ex might try to sabotage the sale … or … sabotage showings?
Furthermore, “if my spouse does do these types of things as a Divorce Real Estate Specialist how are you going to stop him or her and protect me?”
Hiring a Realtor to sell your Matrimonial home in a divorce is one of the hardest things to do properly and successfully because it’s an emotionally volatile time, with a lot of money on the line, and the Realtor is the only professional who works for both of you.
And the icing on the cake is there are very few Realtors who are in fact true Real Estate Divorce Specialists.
As Ontario’s first Divorce Real Estate Specialist and someone who mentors other Realtors in this field, I have many years of a successful track record, not only helping clients but also working hand-in-hand with other professionals such as Divorce Lawyers and other officials, to ensure a fair and safe and smooth experience.
I understand the importance of confidentiality and discretion.
If you want more information about getting a divorce in Ontario check out my full divorce page.
If you have any questions about how to hire the right Realtor to sell your matrimonial home in divorce please don’t hesitate to contact me and I would be happy to answer your questions.
And be sure to check out www.DivorceSpecialistsGroup.com. They have the best Divorce Lawyers, Divorce Coaches, and Divorce Professionals I’ve met & worked with.