Advice for Couples Selling a Home Because of Divorce

Home Stager with Staging4Smooth Transitions Connecticut Home Staging

Advice for Couples Selling a Home Because of Divorce.

I recently read a very compelling and insightful blog post by Scott Hayes on the subject of Divorce and Real Estate.  Scott offers advice that should be required reading for any couple with a home to sell because of a divorce: divorce

"As soon as a couple files for divorce, you instantly form a business relationship. When a home is involved, that is most certainly the case. Although it is very difficult to keep emotions in check, it is imperative that divorcing couples become partners in the business of home ownership."

Selling a house can be quite emotional and difficult for even the happiest of married couples. For those going through a divorce, the process of selling a home can be excrutiating. Often the pain of a divorce is enough to put even the most sane person right over the edge - add the stress of selling a home and you quite often have a situation that's absolutley unbearable....

I know. I am going through a divorce right now and it is by far THE most difficult thing I've ever done. 

Sellers:  If you have to sell your home because of a divorce, take Scott's advice and try to keep those emotions in check.  I KNOW, I KNOW - that's easier said than done - but there's so much at stake!  You could easily end up making a very costly mistake that you'll regret later on.

  • Do whatever you have to do to put that hurt, resentment, hate, fear or whatever else you're feeling aside. Get counseling, join a support group, spend time with family/friends who are positive and supportive, read inspiring literature, exercise, pray, meditate.  Do what works best for you.
  • Don't underestimate the healing power of TIME.  Give yourself TIME to process the many emotions you're experiencing right now.  If possible, take time to grief the loss of your marriage BEFORE you take on the sale of your house.  Remember, it's a process that can't be rushed.
  • Most importantly, hire a competent and reputable Realtor to represent you.  Be honest about what you're going through and make sure that person has experience with your type of situation.
  • Remember the job of an agent representing a couple who's hostile to one another or not communicating well is extremely difficult!  Your agent wants to help you - let him or her do the job and don't make it harder than it needs to be.     

Agents:  Please try to be patient.  If you've never been divorced, then you have no idea the kind of pain your sellers might be experiencing.

  • Your divorcing sellers might be acting strange or childish or unreasonable but please don't judge them.  [There was once a time when I judged people who chose divorce - I believed they just didn't try hard enough to save their marriage and they were taking "the easy way out".  Of course now I can say from experience that belief is NOT true.]
  • If you have been through a divorce and it all went smoothly for you - try to remember not all couples are so fortunate.
  • Make certain both spouses are on board with selling the house.  If one is resisting your chances of achieving a successful sale are quite limited. 
  • Stay neutral and don't even think about taking sides.  Your clients need an emotionally detatched third party that's capable of handling potentially explosive situations
  • Trust your instincts. If you have the feeling a situation might be more than you can handle or more trouble than it's worth, you're probably right.  There's no shame in walking away from a listing if you're not comfortable.  

Finally, when preparing a house for sale, do your best to camoflage a divorce situation - they're typically quite easy to identify.  Buyers who suspect a divorce could assume a financial hardship exists, which could cause them to try to take advantage of the situation and make a lower offer than they would have otherwise made. 

Check out Tony Lacy-Thompson's  post on the subject of Divorce and Your Money - Nine Mistakes Couples Make With Their Finances.  There's some great advice there!


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Karen Bernetti is a Real Estate Stager, Former Realtor®, Author, Speaker, and Owner of Staging4Smooth Transitions - specializing in assisting seniors with their downsize moves and offering Home2Home Transitions seminars. Karen is also the Social Media Manager and Administrative Coordinator for Prudential CT Realty, in Madison, CT and Co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days System - an interactive multi-media program teaching do-it-yourself homeowners EVERYHTING they need to know about preparing a home for sale. Stay up to date on the latest staging and home decor trends by visiting Karen & Ann's Home Sale Success Blog.  



Re-Bloggged 6 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Jeanne & Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Brokers 06/10/2011 10:20 AM
  2. Michael Collins 06/10/2011 01:17 PM
  3. Gene Riemenschneider 06/11/2011 04:29 PM
  4. Joy Carter & Jeff Booker Brother and Sister Team 06/15/2011 06:57 PM
  5. Charles Stallions 01/23/2013 07:28 AM
  6. Matthew Caulk 05/30/2013 07:41 AM
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Advice for Sellers
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Debbie Lynn
Realtor, North San Diego 858.775.9771
Prudential California Realty

Great post and comments.  So many I am bookmarking to read later.  A difficult situation for all, and best wishes Karen in your divorce.

June 21, 2011 10:36 AM
Mike Henderson
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848
Your complete source for buying HUD homes

First and most important, good luck personally.  This is the best blog I have read on the subject of real estate and divorce.  You made a great point about the emotional issues.  I've often wanted to market to potential clients this way.  The idea that I have excellent psychological and coping skills.  Hard to claim that without a psch degree though.  I think the psycological issues that can go along with these situations are more/as important as the transaction.  This blog makes all parties aware of it.  Great job.

June 29, 2011 11:14 AM
Karen Bernetti
Staging4Smooth Transitions Connecticut Home Staging

DeeDee - me too

Joanna - LOVED the article.  Thank you!

Carlos - you make an excellent point

Marsha - what a sad sight

Joy and Jeff - yes it's a journey not a destination.  Thanks so much for the re-blog

Nancy - I don't know who its harder on - them or you?  Hang in there

Gerard - yes they're easy to detect

Debbie Lyn - THANK YOU and yes all the comments and advice have been wonderful

Mike - Thanks for your kinid word

June 29, 2011 07:39 PM
Shanna Day Mega Team Leader (AZ & UT)
BUY or SELL Your Home FAST w/The Shanna Day Team!
Keller Williams Realty EV (AZ) & Keller Williams SLC (UT)

Great Article. 

This is what I recently went through that was extremely difficult that some of you may learn from as well.   I recently sold a home to a divorced couple that the mother-in-law was the lien holder.   Oh boy, that was not easy!   All three people, the wife, husband and mother-in-law wanted to be the "one in charge".   The wife would text me late at night - sometimes all night long.   The husband was an early riser so he would start texting about 5:00am and the mother-in-law in her 80's was on the phone with me all through the day.  This went on forever!   As much as I tried to set some boundaries, they were going through so much emotionally that they were completely oblivious to my needs or wishes.   When we finally got them to a realistic price (which was no small trick because of their animocity to each other), the home finally sold and they have moved on with their lives and everything is so much better - for them and me!   I worked harder on my price reduction scripts than I ever had before.  It was worth it!  They are all my friends because I was kind through the whole process - even though I too wanted to scream at times.  I know that I will be their realtor for life for understanding and being helpful, professional and kind through a very stressful period.    Good luck if you find yourself in this position.  The golden rule applies in all our lives as a realtor - don't you agree?  

July 23, 2011 08:46 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Los Angeles / Valley Homes
Mannis Real Estate Group

I don't believe in easy divorces( only in movies?). Every divorce is stressful, difficult and ugly.

We all noticed that recently the divorce rate rose( thanks to Depression years), but many couples did not sell their houses during the divorce process since prices were down; finally,  those houses are entering the market.

October 20, 2013 12:10 AM
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