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6 Tips From A Real Estate Divorce Specialist - PART 1

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational and educational purposes only and is not dispensing or offering legal advice. If divorce is in your future we encourage you to seek experienced and professional assistance of a Divorce Specialist Realtor and an attorney about the legalities of keeping or selling your home in a divorce.

In Part 1 of this blog, we address 3 of the 6 tips from Geni Manning, of the Geni Manning Real Estate Group. A challenging part of every divorce, where real estate is involved, is deciding what to do with the marital home and any investment properties. Quite likely, the situation is already emotionally charged by the circumstances, but the home itself carries added sentimental and monetary value, in fact may be the greater part of a couples net worth. The fundamental decision is 'do we sell the property and divide the equity or does one individual buy-out the other and keep the house?' Certainly, when there are children involved with schools and friends there may be a reason to consider the spouse that will have physical custody of the children keeping the house, but this will bring several added emotional, logistical and financial complications. It can seem overwhelming and make you feel like you’re alone in an impossible situation, but help is available.

There are Realtors® that have specialized in divorce that assist clients many times every year through the details and roadblocks of selling joint property. The committed Realtors take courses and obtain certification to better understand tax issues in the sale of the family home, alimony and child support, divorce and pensions, and bankruptcy.

The Geni Manning Real Estate Group is supported by professional and experienced individuals that are licensed CPA’s, tax advisors, attorneys and accountants that allow us to offer our clients a customized solution because in these situations there is no ‘one size fits all!’

This is your chance to soak up some of this free advice from one of the leading Realtors in the Dallas metroplex and Director of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex National Association of Divorce Professionals (NADP). Geni Manning is a Divorce Specialist among other notable specialties and certifications and has been voted Top Realtor by D Magazine and 2023 Frisco Business Person of the Year. See Geni’s bio at our webpage: Meet Our Team. You can obtain more information from Geni's book titled, Divorce – Your House and Your Money- you can pick up a copy in the bookstore on this site.

Let’s look at the first three of the six important elements and key advice that Geni has to offer.

1. Choose A Divorce Specialist Realtor That Both Spouses Can Trust

Let’s be honest – one of the reasons that marriages end is that trust ends. It’s a sad fact, but at this point we can’t put band aids on things and just push through. Nothing will leave you feeling more isolated, alone, or backed into a corner than trying to sell the house during your divorce, especially with an agent who doesn’t feel like an ally. On the flip side to that if you hire someone you trust — but your ex-to-be doesn’t — the entire process becomes an endless merry-go-round.

As Geni states in her book, ‘…selling a home during a divorce is very different than a traditional sale because of the type of communication with clients…. ‘Typically, this involves communicating with each spouse separately, but sometimes they must come together and make decisions which can get very emotional and painful.’ For this reason, it is crucial that the homeowners select a Realtor they both can trust to be fair and objective.

This is one of the major advantages of a Realtor over a real estate sales agent as the Realtor pays for membership in the National Association of REALTORS®, as well as several local real estate associations each of which have very strict Codes of Ethics that provide assurance to clients that the Realtor will address their fiduciary responsibilities with honesty and integrity - a clear indication that this is a profession and not a job!

To be certified as a Divorce Specialist, a Realtor will have received specialized training in the following areas:

Tactfully handling the emotional conflict of a contentious home sale, including keeping the process civil and in everyone’s best interest

  • The pros and cons of selling the home or having one person keep the home and buy out the other

  • Family law with regard to real estate; Realtors are NOT attorneys and do not provide legal advice; however, the specialized training involves developing an understanding of the elements of family law so they can interact with clients’ attorneys more effectively

  • The overall process and timelines of divorce proceedings, particularly as it relates to the local county courts

  • Tax issues regarding the sale of a marital home

  • Considerations for how alimony and child support may impact any real estate decisions

  • Considerations for how pensions, bankruptcy, and related financial situations may impact any real estate decisions determining the market value of property(ies) in a divorce

  • Ways clients can avoid adverse effects on future finances

  • How Texas property division laws may apply to your unique situation

You can fill out the Contact Us form below and Geni, or a Divorce Specialist with a proven track record of satisfied divorce clients, will contact you to discuss your needs.

2. Fighting Will Cost You Both Time And Money.

When it comes to dividing assets, often the marital home is one of the most valuable assets, particularly if you’ve owned your home for 5 years or longer. Bank accounts, investment accounts and 401k’s can literally be split in half, but that’s much more difficult to do with a home.

Contention and disagreements about the best way to move forward are all but inevitable.

Some of the more frequent arguments include:

  • Whether to sell the home and split the proceeds, or have one person keep the home and buy out the other

  • What the listing price should be – in this case we STRONGLY recommend you take the advice of an experienced Realtor, preferably your Realtor, who knows the market and can document an appropriate price and marketing strategy

  • If one person is buying out the other, whether there are enough other assets to cover the equity owed to the person moving out or if there needs to be a refinance – the Geni Manning Real Estate Group has several ways to help couples with this transition

  • How the equity balance should be determined if the home was purchased by one party prior to the marriage or pre-marital assets were used for the purchase

  • If selling, trying to figure out which repairs and upgrades to make, and who or how these repairs will be paid – once again we have several options to help resolve this situation

  • If selling, agreeing on which offer to accept or which buyer concessions to make

  • Whatever the issue, neither party wins in the long run when you and your spouse fight about the home sale.

Unfortunately, if one spouse is impeding the home sale, the divorce attorney may need to get a court order to move the sale forward — which will cost you. ‘I recall one situation I had not too long ago,’ recalls Geni, ‘in which the couple was divorcing, the home had an IRS tax lien, and was going into foreclosure – can you imagine anything worse?’ ‘The husband was uncooperative, but I managed to get the IRS tax lien resolved and removed and the lender to agree to a short-sale. We didn’t save their equity, but we saved their credit from foreclosure! Don’t allow this to happen to you – regardless of how you feel today you have a future, and you should not allow that new life to be affected by bad decisions today.’

Remember, every time your divorce attorney must negotiate a skirmish – that two adults should manage but pride and ego get in the way – you will be charged for their time whether in the office or on the phone. This can add up to thousands of dollars very quickly.

3. Accept What The Numbers Are Telling You.

The right Realtor will move the sale as quickly as possible, regardless of market conditions, and will always seek to get the best offer (not always the highest price) on your home. Therefore, allowing the Realtor to manage the marketing and negotiations is always the best route.

Just because an offer isn’t quite as high as you expected doesn’t mean it’s a bad offer — and turning it down may not be the best decision. It has been found that often times the first offer is can be the best offer so avoid the thought of not ‘swinging at the first pitch!’ In fact, having your home in a ‘pending’ status can work to you and your Realtor’s advantage by attracting other ‘backup’ offers.

Allow your Realtor to work for you! By Texas State Law we are required to inform you of every written offer that is submitted. We do a “Net Sheet” on those offers that are most attractive for your situation and show you an estimate of what you will ‘net out’ at closing to help you with your decisions. You don’t need to do the math – we do it for you.

‘One reason we do this, especially in divorce situations,’ as Geni says, ‘is to help dissipate potential disagreement when reviewing offers. When a couple is determined to disagree over an offer, I go through the numbers very carefully,’ explains Geni. ‘For example, if the price is less than one party wants, we talk about what it’s going to cost to hold onto the house if we don’t take the offer that we have on the table. Continuing to fight each other puts at risk any financial advantage they may presently have.’

In some cases, it may even make sense to pursue cash offers at a lower-than-market value to sell your home quickly. This may be especially important if one spouse has already moved out and the finances are strained, even worse putting the house at risk of default on the mortgage and subsequent foreclosure. We can help here also – we’re experts at moving a property quickly and in the worst case, if the house is already in foreclosure, working with the lender to obtain their agreement to a short sale and avoid this huge negative on both spouse’s credit that will be there for upwards of 10 years!

The home sale is always smoother when both spouses can agree that the house is going to show better and sell quicker if one party has already moved out. Because, if the spouse currently living in the house doesn’t want to do anything to get it ready to list, selling the home becomes that much more difficult.

Bottom Line: Choose a Realtor that is a Certified Divorce Specialist, one you both can trust, and then listen to their advice.

We encourage you to follow on for Part 2 of this two part blog in which we discuss the how the sale of the home can be affected by one or both spouses moving out, the importance of consulting a tax specialist to help maximize your proceeds and some of the points to consider if one spouse is planning on keeping the home. The legalities and tax implications, not to mention the finesse needed by the Realtor to be able to maximize the sale price in a divorce cannot be understated. It is crucial that at this pivotal time in your lives you do not act on emotion but listen to trusted professionals who are dedicated and have a fiduciary responsibility to seeking your best interests.

If you are thinking of, or in the middle of a divorce, we want you to know you're not alone and we’re here to help. If you would like to discuss how we can assist you with your future plans, please give me a call at 469-556-1185.   Geni Manning

If you are thinking of, or in the middle of a divorce, we want you to know you're not alone and we’re here to help. If you would like to discuss how we can assist you with your future plans, please give me a call at 469-556-1185.

Geni Manning

Disclaimer: The information provided in this website and our blogs is not intended for legal, financial or mental health advice but is for general informational purposes only. While we endeavor to provide the latest information on a particular subject, future changes to the source Information is beyond our control.

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