Divorce is never easy for anyone. Emotions are running high. Finances are in question. If you have a home, who gets it?
I’ve had many of my Halifax clients in this exact situation. And with the pandemic stretching well past a year, it was not surprising the rise in marital conflict.
March 2021 found that 15% of Canadians – both married and unmarried –had experience a break-up since the start of the pandemic. (Source)
Be smart about your divorce and avoid these four common mistakes couples make when selling their home in the heat of the moment (or I suppose the fire has completely died out at this point eh?).
SCENARIO #1: Disagreeing with the choice of agent simply because your ex recommended them
Let’s assume that your partner suggested an agent that they know personally. You are opposed as you feel that they will NOT have “your back” and will only work for your ex. As a Halifax agent it is our duty to remain neutral. We are representing you the homeowner, not one or the other. You may see yourselves as separate entities, but we view you together as the homeowners. We are not there to pick sides or make side deals with you or your partner. Our job is to help facilitate the process by making the transaction as stress free and seamless as possible. And our goal is to sell the home quickly and for top dollar.
SCENARIO #2: I don’t trust that my ex won’t do something I disagree with
What if you don’t trust what your ex is telling the agent? You’re concerned that they are planning to do something without your knowledge? In a nutshell, THEY CAN’T. When selling the matrimonial home, all documents require a signature from each partner. No side deals. No secret documents.
To put your mind at ease, documents should include the following:
- Listing Paperwork
- Price changes of any kind; Any change for that matter
- Offers received on the property
You both MUST sign all appropriate forms and documents. For there to be an agreement or for anything to be legally binding The Halifax, Nova Scotia Trading Real Estate Act requires this.
SCENARIO #3: I do not agree with the listing price
Worried that your partner’s friend will do something about the pricing? Consider hiring an appraiser. In Halifax this will run you upwards of $500, but the peace of mind will be worth every penny. They are a neutral third party who will truly be unbiased.
SCENARIO #4: I don’t want my ex to get all the funds. How can I be sure that this does not happen?
For any real estate transaction, the money from the sale is directly paid first to your real estate lawyer. The money is held in a trust account and can be divided between both parties once it closes. The only time this would not be the case would be if:
- There is a Court Order instructing the lawyer as to who gets what, or
- A finalized separation agreement exists, which is agreed to, and signed by, both parties and both family lawyers. In this case all parties must have agreed on exactly who gets what funds.
Those documents would be accompanied with a Letter of Direction to the Real Estate Lawyer from your Divorce Lawyer.
Regardless of how persuasive you might be or how persuasive you fear your spouse can be, the Real Estate Lawyer will hold all funds in Trust until the above criteria are met.
Real Estate Agents to the rescue
As an agent who has been divorced, I understand that my job isn’t just to sell the house. Even if one spouse is more stressful to deal with, my job is to communicate fairly, professionally, and equally with both spouses. You are both my clients.
I will facilitate communication between you both and to de-escalate the tension, if necessary. Ultimately, I need to keep you focused on the goal of selling your home and keeping tensions down, so you are both able to make important decisions regarding the sale of the property.