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How Realtors Can Assist Clients During a Divorce

By Regina Gables | March 26, 2021

Divorce is never an easy experience. But anywhere from 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce in the United States -- and that means ample opportunities for property sales when the marriage dissolves. When realtors are dealing with selling or buying property of divorcing clients, the challenges are palpable and the stakes are higher.

Divorces inevitably involve the selling of assets and or acquiring of new assets. The challenge for real estate agents is to balance the immense emotions from their clients along with making long-term decisions. There's no room for error or for being irrational. If you are going through a divorce, skilled realtors can help make the sale of a property go smoothly.

Should you sell your home when you get divorced?

Real estate agents will often advise clients to sell their shared property in a divorce. The expense of a divorce combined with the costs of single living and the memories shared in the home may make this the best decision. Of course, the chance of purchasing a property that has the same perks as the previous one might be lower now due to a reduced budget.

Fortunately, a realtor can help narrow down a client's options to suit their budget. This is perfect when considering kids, school fees, travel costs, monthly expenses, and more.

How can real estate agents help their clients during this time?

  • Realtors are patient with their clients. The best agents know that sometimes, under unique circumstances, delays occur. With divorcing parties, this is usually the case. It may even be difficult to get both parties to agree on the same thing. But a skilled real estate agent will persevere with both patience and compassion. Although a client may be under a time crunch to sell or to buy, there may be financial delays or emotional upsets that can slow down the process. Don't expect a quick, clean resolution -- and don't show frustration when talking to your client.
  • A real estate agency is there for their client. Realtors are trained and experienced in dealing with the emotions that come with buying a house. But those emotions may be even more pronounced when your client is going through a divorce. Remember that 6% of commissions made to an agent are paid by the seller. You can earn your keep, so to speak, by lending an ear or a shoulder to cry on when necessary.
  • Some realtors know divorce law principles. Of course, real estate agents cannot actually give legal advice; if a client needs help with estate-related legalities, a real estate lawyer may be a more appropriate choice. However, many real estate agents have come to know a bit more about what's involved in certain aspects of divorce law as it relates to assets and shared property. A realtor may even have first-hand divorce experience themselves. Although you should always advise that your client receive professional legal assistance, you can share your experience and provide some anecdotal guidance that may help them.

While the divorce process may be difficult, the real estate process doesn't necessarily have to add more stress to the client's life. Statistics prove that 5.34 million existing homes were sold in 2019 -- many of which were likely owned by now-divorced couples. It's clear that working with a real estate agent can take pressure off of the client during a particularly difficult time.

When working with a divorcing client on a home sale or purchase, you'll want to provide them with support, transparency, and open communication. Become a problem-solver for your client and they'll be forever grateful. A good property agent is skilled at solving problems. During a divorce, things don't always go according to plan. That's why it's so essential that a good agent is able to handle and solve issues arising with the property.

Even if you've never been through a divorce yourself, you can probably appreciate the emotional toll this process can take on a home seller or buyer. As an agent, you can provide the support your client needs while helping them achieve their property goals. By keeping these principles in mind, you'll become a valuable asset for these clients.

Regina Gables is a Realty Biz News Contributor and a freelance writer. With a background in Journalism, she enjoyswriting on real estate topics such as home buying, real estate technology and opinionated editorials.
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