In the first article in our Real Estate and Divorce series, we offered an overview of how divorce can affect the real estate deal based on discussions with Columbus area divorce attorneys. In this second part, we talk about how real estate agents can do to manage the process better for their clients and this unique situation.
Get the Price Right
While this is a pivotal point in every real estate transaction, it is particularly relevant where divorce is concerned. If the price is too low, the owners don’t get their equity back. If it’s too high, the house won’t move and the price will need to be lowered. While that isn’t a deal breaker, it’s not helpful.
“Sometimes when parties are trying to select a realtor, the agent will come in and do a home assessment. They offer some comparative pricing of nearby homes, and then one party will get it fixed in their brain that the absolute highest comparison in the neighborhood is what they should ask. That’s not helpful,” said Merisa Bowers of Merisa K. Bowers Attorney at Law, LLC.
Merisa K. Bowers, Attorney at Law
“Information is power, so making sure that that information is disseminated at the same time and in the same way to everybody eliminates one of the most unnecessary points of stress in a divorce or a dissolution. Even if it doesn’t change what was said or change the outcome it makes everybody feel like the process is more fair, and that’s really important,” she said.
Both agreed, however, that they attorney didn’t need to be copied on every email or informed of every phone call.
“If my client is satisfied with how the process is going I’m not going to intervene unnecessarily. I think that empowers the client. Often they want to know what they can do, they want to know how they can make this process better, so it gives them some hands on and some control in a situation where they feel things are out of their control,” said Bowers.
“If a problem arises, I will contact the agent,” says Babbitt, “but I try not to get involved in what they do. If there’s a communication problem – my client tells me that she’s tried to reach her agent by phone half a dozen times and they are not talking to her but only talking to her husband, I’ll ask for an explanation.”
That changes, though, if one attorney is copied for some reason, if other experts are involved, and when it comes to offers and closing.
“Once there is a serious offer made or there is some serious discussion about when closing is going to be, it is really helpful for me to be looped in on whether that’s through the realtor or the client,” said Bowers.
People often turn to someone they know and trust to help in a time of crisis. A divorce is no different. If the husband or wife knows someone who is a real estate agent, their instinct is to approach them to help. Both attorneys suggested that this might not be a worry.
“If both parties are incentivized by a higher selling price, then I wouldn’t worry about it too much,” said Bowers. “I’d probably advise a client not to stress about it. But if there is a conflict of interest where one spouse would feel uncomfortable then they have to mutually select someone. “
“If a client really believes that their spouse really wants to sell the house, then why would we think that the agent would try to make less money from the house?” Babbitt pointed out. “The spouse is going to want as much as they can get, and if they think their good friend the realtor can get that price, then why not try it?”
The take-away for agents finding themselves working with sellers going through a divorce is to proceed with care. Communication, professional integrity, and correct pricing will be key to a successful collaboration. Close collaboration between the divorce attorney and the agent can provide a strong foundation for a successful transaction with less stress for everyone.
Photo by Linda Tanner
Contact Taylor today.
Columbus, Ohio Real Estate Agent
Taylor Kolon’s years of experience helping people sell or find the right home taught him that his work is about more just land and buildings. It’s about hopes, dreams, and a secure future. It’s about helping individuals and families turn a challenging situation into an opportunity, and to that end Taylor listens carefully to his clients as he guides them to their goal.
A jump from corporate sales in the Ohio metals industry to real estate was only natural for this outgoing guy. As a result, Taylor brings a sharp eye for detail and well-honed negotiation skills to work for every client every time. Taylor earned his degree from Central Michigan University where he also played on the men’s volleyball team. The fast pace and the teamwork as well as the physical and mental challenge he found on the court are some of what he loves best about his work. He also understands the value of continued training and education to keep his game in top shape. Every time he hands over the keys to an ecstatic new homeowner feels like a win.
Taylor believes in the importance of community and making sure he’s giving back what he can to Columbus through various volunteer activities and membership in the Clintonville Chamber of Commerce. However, there is no denying, that his favorite way to spend his free time is with his wife, Mandy, and their daughter, Elena.