Selling a home while going through a divorce is unique and not every realtor has specialized knowledge. That's why you may want to hire a realtor who is credentialed in this area. Consider all of the factors that could contribute to financial disaster. First, the marital home is usually the couple’s largest asset. Second, many couples, even if they are not divorcing because of money, are not immune from a financial battle over what will happen to the home. Third, selling a home is already an emotional process and in the case of divorcing spouses, compounded by the emotional and physical separation of divorce. Finally, divorce has an effect on the open communication a realtor needs to facilitate a sale that benefits both parties.
Thankfully, there are certifications you can look for when selecting a relator. One of the most highly respected is CDRE or Certified Divorce Real Estate Agent, bestowed upon agents who complete the Ilumni Institute’s rigorous 5 day certification program. A second certification, offered by Carol Wilson is a Certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist designation. A Realtor uses CREDS or REDS after their name to signify they have completed this coursework.
Questions to Ask a Realtor who Specializes in Divorce
No matter what designation your realtor has, you should ask each agent specific questions about their references, number of homes sold, and experience selling homes during divorce proceedings.
It’s also a good idea to ask hypothetical questions about potential conflicts that might arise and ask how they would handle the situation. For example, what if your soon to be ex spouse wants to spend money to make improvements before the sale but you prefer to sell the home as is? Ask the realtor how he/she would handle this dilemma and evaluate whether they could help come to a solution that both of you can live with.
Realtors who specialize in divorce understand can explain legal jargon and tax issues. CREDS, REDS, or CDRE designated agents are trained in the legal and tax aspects of the divorce process as it relates to real estate. They learn obscure legal rulings, regulations and tax implications. This specific training allows them to help their divorcing clients take advantage of tax laws that are specific to selling a house in the divorce.
A successful home sale during divorce requires more than proficiency in legal and tax implications. After all, the sale is just as much emotional as it is strategic. This is where an agent’s soft skills are tested. If possible, schedule an in person meeting to assess the realtor’s communication skills. E-mails and phone calls only reveal snippets of how the realtor will be able to address your unique situation.
Look for an agent who is fair, level-headed, listens and is good at negotiation. While you could read reviews, any realtor who is worth talking to should be willing to share references from other divorcing couples who they have helped.
Even if your income was relatively consistent before the divorce, there is a good chance that the divorce is going to have financial repercussions.
Post divorce you may need to pay attorney or mediation fees, child support, spousal support, divide up savings and investments, etc. It is possible that you will end up with considerably less money after the divorce or more financial obligations – like taking care of children on your own. A realtor who specializes in divorce is aware of these possibilities and will help you determine what you can afford and if the mortgage payment would be sustainable.
To recap, the sale of your marital home warrants due diligence. Divorcing couples should take the time to interview and select a credentialed agent who is experienced, well regarded, and has the soft skills necessary to negotiate the sale. Despite the need to “wash your hands” of the home, the sale should not be rushed without considering these factors. A realtor who is CREDS or CDRE certified is in the best position to understand your emotional and financial needs.