New Here - need advice as a real estate agent

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-24-1997
New Here - need advice as a real estate agent
7
Sun, 01-12-2014 - 10:45am

I'm fairly new as a real estate agent and I would like to know the following.  I'm currently looking for an apartment for a soon to be divorced man.  For future reference (not for this client), here are the questions:

1. Since a home can only be sold by the person(s) whose name(s) are on the title or deed, how does this work if a couple is getting divorced and both names are on the deed.  In general, do couples seek a divorce attorney 1st or seek a realtor 1st to get an appraisal?

2.  Do divorcing couples live in the house until it sells, then get divorced?

3.  What about if one spouse moves out and the other spouse lives in the house?  I know from talking to other agents, they have to communicate at the attorney's office with both parties present.  Who decides which attorney's office and who makes appointments?

4.  What about children and if it's during the school year?  Do divorcing couples prefer having the house sold during the summer when schools are closed?

5.  What questions should I keep my mouth shut about and what is appropriate to ask?

As you can guess, I'm just trying to educate myself so if at some point in the future, I have to sell or show homes to divorced singles or divorcing couples, I will know what to say and when to keep my mouth shut.  Just trying to act appropriately.

Kathy

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 01-12-2014 - 11:49am

goldye wrote:
<p>I'm fairly new as a real estate agent and I would like to know the following.  I'm currently looking for an apartment for a soon to be divorced man.  For future reference (not for this client), here are the questions:</p><p>1. Since a home can only be sold by the person(s) whose name(s) are on the title or deed, how does this work if a couple is getting divorced and both names are on the deed.  In general, do couples seek a divorce attorney 1st or seek a realtor 1st to get an appraisal?

I think that most times the couple would agree on selling the house or have the court order the house to be sold, then they would contact a realtor.  But many times if the divorce is contested you need to figure out the value of the house.  The first step is to get a broker to give an opinion because most of the time, they won't charge for that, but if the 2 parties have a big disagreement about the value, then they will have to pay an appraiser for an official appraisal that can be used in court.

</p><p>2.  Do divorcing couples live in the house until it sells, then get divorced?

It depends.  If neither one of them can really afford to move out an even get an apartment, then they might continue to live in the house, but the majority of times, one of them will move out.  There are some judges that I know who won't grant a divorce if they are still living together.

</p><p>3.  What about if one spouse moves out and the other spouse lives in the house?  I know from talking to other agents, they have to communicate at the attorney's office with both parties present.  Who decides which attorney's office and who makes appointments?

As a divorce attorney and not a real estate attorney, I haven't gotten involved when the people decide to sell the house.  They both would have to sign the listing agreement and there is no reason that the broker has to talk to the attorney instead of talking to the sellers directly.  Sometimes they might even decide to hire a different lawyer to represent them in the sale.  I think it's only in the hotly contested divorces that the parties can't even work together in selling the house--after all it's best for both of them to get the highest price.

</p><p>4.  What about children and if it's during the school year?  Do divorcing couples prefer having the house sold during the summer when schools are closed?

It's usually easier to move when your kids aren't in school.

</p><p>5.  What questions should I keep my mouth shut about and what is appropriate to ask?</p><p>As you can guess, I'm just trying to educate myself so if at some point in the future, I have to sell or show homes to divorced singles or divorcing couples, I will know what to say and when to keep my mouth shut.  Just trying to act appropriately.</p>

I think all you have to know if who you should communicate with and who you need to make appointments with the show the house.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Sun, 01-12-2014 - 12:59pm

I'm neither an attorney or a real estate agent, but I am divorced, and I have friends who are divorced.  You're not selling their house, you're showing them a new house or apartment.  So all the questions you're asking aren't yours to decide.  All you need to worry about is whether or not they have the finances to buy or rent the new place.  Kids, schools, whose name the old house is in isn't your concern.  All of those decisions should and usually are made by the couple with advice from fheir attorneys.  If you're listing their home for sale, then you just need to find out whose name is on the title, and every divorce is different.  In many cases, if there are children, the mother is allowed to live in the house until they're over 18, then the house will go up for sale and the proceeds will be split.  In my divorce, I had the title transferred to my name only, and I could have sold it any time I wanted to.  My lawyer didn't know my soon to be ex, but I did.  The lawyer wanted to set up my staying, selling the house after the kids were grown, but HE would make the payments.  I insisted that I would make the payments, therefore I wanted the house in my name...and I did that because my ex was an alcoholic that spent all his money in bars, plus he was so furious with me for having the audacity to divorce him, that I knew he wouldn't make the payments and I'd end up being evicted by the sheriff!  I was right!  He didn't even pay child support, but none of that would concern a real estate agent. Included in the divorce decree was an order to have the title changed to my name, which actually took several months.  Had he tried to sell it during that time, the title search would have shown both of our  names and an ethical real estate agent would make sure that I was willing to sell the house too!   I would assume that if someone wanted you to sell their home, you would have to make sure they had title to that home, whether or not a divorce was involved.  I assume that even if a couple wasn't divorcing, and a man came to you and asked you to sell his house, if you were going to list the house you would research the title.....and if the wife's name was also on it, then you'd have to be sure that you had her approval for the sale. 

Bottom line to me would be that if I came to you to buy a house, or rent a place to live, your only concern should be whether or not I could afford that place......my marital status should be of no concern to you.  If I wanted to sell my house, the only proof you would need would be that I hold the title to the house.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-24-1997
Sun, 01-12-2014 - 5:41pm

Thank you for the replies.  I only know 1 friend who is divorced but after her divorce, my husband & I parted ways since we were friends with her husband too and they didn't want us to take sides.  As a realtor, I'm in a business relationship and trying to present a professional image, so it's totally different.  I basically wanted to educate myself so I don't say anything stupid.  I knew not to ask personal questions, but wasn't sure how to handle situations i.e. if one partner wants to sell and the other doesn't.  Anyway, thanks for the education.

Kathy

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 01-12-2014 - 8:57pm

I know many people who are divorced, including my dd.  And that dd was a legal asst for 9 years, to both divorce AND RE attnys.  I have also bought and sold multiple properties over the years, and know many RE agents. 

All divorces, like all RE transactions, are different.  The best way to not say anything stupid, is to not say ANYTHING.  Do not ask any questions unless they pertain SPECIFICALLY to what you have to do.  When someone approaches you and asks you to list their house, you must assume they have the right to sell that house.  If they do not, it will come out at the closing.  If you ask them to prove they are legally able to sell the property, they will either turn on their heel and take their business elsewhere, or sue you for discrimination.  As a representative of the seller, your SOLE responsibility is to secure a buyer for the seller’s home, at a price and on terms acceptable to the seller. 

If you are representing the buyer, your responsibility is negotiating the purchase of a home at a price and on terms acceptable to the buyer.  You are best served by helping your client find a good mortgage broker, who will prequalify your client.  That way they will know exactly how much money they can afford to spend, and you will know how much to encourage them to bid.  Also, a prequalification will help both buyer's and seller's attorneys to move quickly through reviewing financials and completing the contract.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010
Sun, 01-12-2014 - 9:16pm

1) Don't you have some kind of interview with a new client who wants you to sell their house? At that time you can ask questions like what names are are the deed, are all of the parties in the area and available for signing documents, etc. If its a divorce sale the seller will probably tell you, and you can ask if both parties are in agreement about the sale, if s/he anticipates any difficulties or issues that could affect showing the property or completing the transaction. At that point you can also ask about who is the contact person for arranging meetings, showings, etc.

2) They usually prefer to live apart but for financial reasons may need to keep sharing the place.

3) Maybe it depends on how amicable the couple is? If one of them is your contact person then maybe go to that person's attorney's office?

4) Most families with school age kids, divorcing or not, probably prefer a move to be during the summer because its less disruptive for the kids especially if they will have to change schools. But with all of the factors that go into a house sale, plus things related to divorce proceedings, it could be very hard to get that timing right. So much of it is out of your control that I would not worry about that; and certainly not make any promises to a client like that.

5) Don't ask anything personal unless its directly related to somethng you need to know to fill out paperwork or use in marketing the property. When you start to develop a rapport with the client you might start hearing more than you ever wanted to know and the problem will be discouraging confidences and remaining neutral.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 01-13-2014 - 7:36pm

Hi Kathy, I see you have been on iVillage for quite some time.  Good to see some "long-timers" on here. 

I can appreciate your curiosity and desire to learn, but I think the other posters have already summed it up.  You will have to tread lightly if your client opens up on a personal level about their situation.  Honestly, it may be stuff you don't want to know.  As a female, we often want to help.  So sticking to the "just the facts ma'am" will be important.  

Serenity

Serenity
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-15-2014
Sun, 03-16-2014 - 12:08am

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