by Tony Janowicz – REALTOR®
Over half of the couples going through or thinking about divorce have to or want to sell their home as part of the settlement. When I was going through my divorce, we sold the home we raised our family in. It was emotional and heart wrenching. The Realtor we used was not equipped to handle the mental and emotional aspects of what we were going through. Therefore, the experience was less than perfect. I told myself if I ever get the opportunity to help people buying and selling real estate who are going through divorce, I would. So, as we all know, life happens and low and behold here I am.
There are really 10 to 15 attributes a realtor needs to possess to do a good job representing their clients going through divorce. For the sake of time and space I am going to gently touch on 5 of them. For more details, please visit the bog on my website at TonyJanowicz.ImpactProperties.com.
Real estate and real property law are the rules that govern land and the structures on it. Real estate law directly and indirectly impacts landlords, homebuyers, home sellers, renters and anyone who is using real property. There are a lot of real estate statues on the federal and state level, but federal real estate laws may take precedence over local real estate laws.
Essentially, real estate law is any rule that tells you who can use a property but also how it can be used… it isn’t reserved for just finance contracts or the actual sale of a property. Real estate law also governs the use of any structures on the land and it even governs how materials below the land can be used and by whom. This can be complex because there are many aspects of the law that most people don’t consider when engaging in a real estate transaction. When you are going through a divorce there is enough legal stuff going on to worry about. The last thing you need is more stress from selling the house. That’s why you need a Realtor who knows real estate law… and if your Realtor doesn’t know the answer, maybe the Broker does, and if the Broker doesn’t know… it’s time to consult a real estate attorney.
Realtors are trained in Real Estate and certain areas of real estate law. It’s important for you to know Realtors are not lawyers and should not pretend to know it all about real estate law. If they don’t know the answer they should know where to get it.
Patience really is a virtue
We live in a world that values quick thinking and dynamic action. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. However, when these traits manifest in the form of impatience, problems arise.
As difficult as it may be, patience truly is a virtue. Realtors must display patience, especially working with people going through a divorce.
As a person going through divorce, be on the lookout for the “ready, fire, aim” syndrome. The tendency to rapidly evaluate situations as encounters, can be both a blessing and a curse. In the best cases, this rapid assessment enables a quick grasp of the situation and plot a path forward.
In the worst cases, however, this rapid-fire thought process creates a divide between people by jumping forward to a conclusion while others are still processing the information at hand. I remember when I was going through my divorce, there was so much going on, it took me longer than normal to process information. I needed a Realtor who could be patient with my process so I could make the best real estate decisions for my circumstances. I didn’t need to be rushed.
This “ready, aim, fire” syndrome is all too common amongst Realtors, and while sometimes it leads to rapid closing of the deal, more often than not it results in problems.
I recommend you and your Realtor together create a timeline. If the processes fail to align to that timeline, everyone, especially the Realtor needs to be patient.
Be on the lookout for a Realtor pushing you too aggressively or issuing unreasonable ultimatums. More often than not, impatience is detrimental to the transaction. Impatience is a major red flag to you as the client. Patience really is a virtue.
Empathy is as empathy does
We often hear about the need for more empathy in the world. No doubt you’ve witnessed this in one form or another: Today, you’ll get different definitions for empathy, depending on who you ask. But most would agree to some variation of the following: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts or feelings of another. On my website I blog about Personal Experience and Compassion, however Empathy is different… To feel and display empathy, it’s not necessary to share the same experiences or circumstances as others. Rather, empathy is an attempt to better understand the other person by getting to know their perspective. Empathy takes work and when you are going through divorce you need a REALTOR who is going to be willing to put in the work to better understand how you feel and what you might be thinking. The result being an emotional connection that actually moves the Realtor to act, to help make your experience of buying and selling real estate during this season of your life a positive one.
One of the greatest realizations in my life has been when I came to know my emotional intelligence is more important than my IQ. Keeping this in mind has affected how I view my clients and has influenced how I serve them. When looking for a Realtor you want someone who has the emotional intelligence and the willingness to empathize with your situation.
Compassion is an action word
The definition of compassion, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”
I like this definition only to the point to where it begins to describe compassion as an action word. Compassion does not only recognize the suffering of others but is compelled to act and help. Compassion is a tangible expression of love towards others who are suffering. When going through a divorce, you want to find a Realtor who can first recognize and understand the distress you are going through, and then take action to serve your real estate needs.
Compassion is much more than empathy. The component of action is what separates compassion from empathy, sympathy, pity, concern, condolence, sensitivity, tenderness, commiseration, or any other compassion synonym.
Compassion gets involved. The Bible doesn’t explain compassion like a dictionary does, simply telling us what the word means. Instead, the Bible defines compassion by showing us what compassion looks like and what is involved with being compassionate.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” — 1 John 3:18, NIV
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” — 1 Peter 4:10, NIV
The word compassion is synonymous with doing. Compassion is concerned with the human spirit and soul, therefore involves acting to alleviate the suffering of others. Look for a Realtor whose compassion is noticeably actionable.
Neutrality balances the scale
Webster’s says neutrality as the state of not supporting or helping either side in a conflict or disagreement; impartiality, neutrality is absence of decided views, expression, or strong feeling.
Neutrality can be synonymous with unbiased. Neutrality implies tolerance regardless of how disagreeable, deplorable, or unusual a perspective might be.
Speaking from experience you will want a Realtor who is going to give equal chance to different ideas, facts or opinions that may or may not support your personal point of view. Emotions may or may not be running high. To have someone at the table who can remain neutral is a benefit to reaching the goal.
Your Realtor needs to be a strategic partner who is going to guide and empower the process towards making wise and discerning real estate decisions in the midst of surrounding pressures.
For example, when getting a divorce in California, mostly likely the house being sold is community property. Therefore, both party’s signatures are required before the property can be sold. Disagreements can surface in the areas of selling costs, selling price, and how the proceeds will be divided. It is key for you to find a Realtor who possesses the attribute of neutrality. …or communicate to your Realtor “your wishes” for that person to remain a neutral and impartial 3rd party, as three of you walk through steps of selling the house. A neutral and impartial Realtor will be beneficial to getting the house listed at the right price, in the right condition for viewing, and ultimately providing offers to be accepted in a timely and professional manner.
Your Realtor should be an active but neutral facilitator of discussion. The Realtor’s job is to give professional input when needed. The decisions and conclusions are yours. It’s your house, your money, and your time. If you want your Realtor’s professional real estate opinion, don’t hesitate to ask. However, remember, your Realtor is not a lawyer, cpa, doctor, or lender… therefore not qualified to give professional advice for anything other than real estate.
Parable of the saying less is more
Mr. and Mrs. were, getting a divorce. They decided to sell their house and split the proceeds 50/50. When meeting with their Realtor during the listing meeting, the Realtor’s suggestion was to list the house at $965,000, Mrs. agreed. Mr. thought they could get $980,000 and said he would not sign the listing agreement unless they listed at $980,000. Conversation went back and forth between Mr. and Mrs., albeit at times a bit contentious. The Realtor stayed silent and let the conversation take its natural course. During the course of conversation Mrs. offered to buy out Mr. for the difference of the selling price versus the $980,000 in return for Mr. signing the listing agreement at $965,000. Meaning of the story is the Realtor stayed out of the way and let Mr. and Mrs. work it out for themselves. …do you see any other wisdom in the story?
As a Real Estate Professional, it is my purpose to encourage and empower you with the guidance to make confident, wise, and discerning real estate decisions during this season of your life.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope this is helpful and if it makes sense to you, please give me a call. I would love to help you sell your house and buy your next home.
Tony Janowicz – REALTOR®