This article originally appeared on Ilumni Institute.
When a divorce begins, there can be millions of decisions to be made. What is happening with custody? How will support be allocated? What are the important dates to consider?
Often, choosing a real estate agent can be a secondary choice. However, 70% of divorces involve property, so selecting a real estate agent through traditional means in a specialized situation can be a recipe for disaster. Agents are often chosen through friends and family, but in a divorce, this can mean ending up with an agent who is quickly in over their head if you aren’t careful.
Agents trained in divorce are more consultants than salespeople. Most agents are good at selling their value, so you might not realize you have an underexperienced agent until it’s too late. Most agents think they can handle a divorce case until they are in the middle of it.
If you are wanting to qualify an agent to work with you, first see if they are certified to work with divorcing clients. If not, these five questions can help you identify how someone will approach the case.
How will you handle conflict?
Every case has conflict—and that conflict can ebb and flow throughout the process. Top divorce agents are trained in how to diffuse conflict that comes into their lane of expertise. Just as important, they are trained to prevent conflict before it even starts. This means they recognize where lawyers and lending experts are needed, and when they need to step in and make suggestions to unstick situations. You’ll want to hear about specific tactics being taken to reduce conflict and move to resolution.
How often will you talk to my attorney?
This is perhaps a bit of a trick question. Many agents will share about their readiness to keep attorneys well informed. And lawyers should know what’s going on—strategically. If an agent called an attorney daily, or sent too frequent updates, the lawyer will have to bill for dozens of hours, undermining the value that the agent is bringing to the table. Top agents share information at important steps in the process, and bring in lawyers when they are needed to move things forward.
What training do you have in divorce real estate?
There are several types of training that can equip agents to work in divorce. The ilumni Institute provides the most comprehensive training. Local training at bar associations can offer support, and training in mediation and arbitration can be useful as well. If an agent hasn’t been trained, and doesn’t have a long experience with divorce cases, the selling couple may have as much experience with divorce as the agent.
How will you stay neutral?
Top agents have specific, proactive steps to remain neutral. It’s one thing to be reactively neutral. “I will keep both of your interests at heart” and “I will share all updates to both of you simultaneously” are statements that are commonly shared. Yet how will the agent proactively be neutral? What if one client shares something they want held secret? What if there is a surprise that needs to be shared? Is it best to copy both clients on all communication, or should things be messaged separately? Again, it’s vital that the agent have a specific, proactive strategy.
Why are you doing divorce cases?
Many agents want to take on divorce cases because they see them as a source of leads. Often this excitement wanes if they don’t have a passion or interest in serving in this area. For the agent, like others in the case, divorces can be stressful, and can lead to challenges in navigating complex situations and emotions. If an agent can’t quickly identify why they care about divorce cases, it’s likely they don’t have the background to do what is needed to create a successful resolution.
These questions can help make a decision that should not be underestimated—choosing a top agent to help lead your divorce sale. Homes can linger in divorce setting without an expert to push the case forward. Don’t skip on due diligence as you looking to move forward from uncertainty to a new future.