The idea of starting a blog to share thoughts with my sphere is not a new idea. When it comes to demonstrating knowledge and professionalism to a prospective client, friend, or family member, a blog is a great place to start. But then there is the question of topics to cover; what information do my clients consider “valuable”? After all, if it’s not valuable to them, then what’s the point in writing it? That question got me thinking about my own real estate experiences. And I must be honest, not all of the memories around those experiences are ones that I want to share nor relive again. You see, quite a few years ago I went through one of the most painful and traumatic experiences possible in anyone’s real estate journey: the sale of my family home in conjunction with a divorce. The emotions involved are incredibly difficult. Unwinding a life lived with someone who, at one time, you pictured living an entire lifetime with is traumatic to say the least. Our home was going to be where our memories were made, where our life revolved. It was a sacred space. Now, it was the beacon to which all the pain of that time shone.
Once the divorce was in motion, I started to think more about the selling process and the practical steps I would need to take to sell our home, and I realized I had no idea where to begin. Not only was I unprepared for the next task at hand, I literally had no idea where to start. I wasn’t a licensed realtor at the time and my experience as a corporate real estate director acquiring property across the western seven states wasn’t relatable to what I needed to do (or to know) for selling my own residential real estate. Not. At. All. So I did what I think anyone in my position would do… I googled “real estate agent…” and found one, met one, and hired one.
But there were some important questions I wish I had asked.
Did they have any experience in handling a real estate transaction relating to a divorce? I didn’t even know that was a question I should have asked them!!
Did they have any experience in considering the cascading effect a careless market analysis would have on my financial future... that they knew how important is was not to inflate the value of my home in order to get the listing? I had no idea that was something they would do!
Did I negotiate the terms of my divorce settlement based on an over inflated home value an inexperienced agent shared with me in order to get my business? You bet I did it. And it had a devastating effect on my financial life for years. My home sold for far less than a real estate professional told me it would, and I had no idea the home might take 6 months or more to sell. Because I accepted financial responsibility for a home I could no longer afford to keep, I also put myself in jeopardy of losing everything while I had to continue to make the mortgage payments on a house neither one of us currently lived in. This is just the financial burden, I haven’t even brought up the emotional burden I was experiencing as well.
Since then, years in the future, I made a pivot to residential real estate, moved to Portland and started focusing on my own experiences and how I can do better at guiding people through these difficult times.
Now I know that almost half of American families experience poverty following a divorce.
Now I know that the household income of a child's family drops an average of 42% after a divorce.
Now I know that 75% of all women who apply for welfare benefits do so because of a disrupted marriage.
Now I know that real estate sales as a part of a divorce are the most complex transactions in our industry. Special care and knowledge that goes far beyond a “fiduciary” duty is needed to navigate the delicate communication that happens when my clients are in conflict with one another.
Through my own direct experience, I know that the things real estate agents tell their clients have a tremendous amount of importance. That, financially speaking, each client is relying on every penny I tell them their house will sell for.
Now I know the importance of being viewed as the 100% neutral party they can talk to, knowing that I have been trained especially for keeping confidences not just between the buyer and seller, but between each other.
So here I am, years in the future, reliving memories long locked away and thinking about how important and different life would be if I only had the right people around me at the time I needed them. But now I am ready to be the right person for a couple going through the same thing I experienced. I have sought out some of the best training and workshops by the Ilumni Institute whose training, mentoring, and certification system is the best in the industry. I’m not done yet, and I am committed to being the best resource my clients need to help them through these difficult times.
After all the challenges I went through, there has been a happy ending for me. Just recently (six years later), I was able to purchase a new home in my dream neighborhood with a partner I love. I couldn't be happier.
This blog is going to have monthly updates. It will cover topics specifically geared towards educating you through the difficult topics and potential land mines you may face if you have to sell your home as a part of a divorce. There will be other topics as well. Market updates, tips and tricks to maximize your profits, etc... but added to that, this will be a place you can visit, just so if there is a time you need it, there will be information here you can use.
If you are in need of any personal advice, I am available to chat, one on one. Confidentially and neutrally. Until next time – thank you for reading.