4 Selling Challenges in a Separation

REALTORS® we often come across listing a home in which the husband and wife have separated. Here are 4 common issues we run into in situations where the separation is contentious:

1. The spouse who continues to live in the home is often the aggrieved party.

As the separation has already caused enough stress, he or she is the least motivated to sell. A move is viewed as an additional disruption and another drastic change to their life. So the home dweller may not be very cooperative in showing the home to buyers, losing out on potential sales.

2. Getting agreement on price and on documents to be signed can be a challenge that requires patience.

The parties may disagree on the list price and will want to review the listing agreement with their respective lawyers. The spouse most resistant to price is usually the least motivated to sell. Based on pricing recommendations from the REALTOR®, the lawyers may have to negotiate a list price that either party can live with; this can take days and sometimes weeks. Otherwise the spouse wanting the higher list price will win out, preventing a sale.  

The buyer will usually demonstrate reasonable patience waiting for a reply on their offer to buy. However, given the distrust between the two sellers, their lawyers may again have to negotiate with each other before the buyer receives a reply. Dealing with initial offers and counter offers can cause excessive delays that can test a buyer’s tolerance and upset the sale.

3. The level of distrust may flow to the listing salesperson.

In some instances, the angered party may distrust the listing salesperson, especially if chosen by the other spouse. Finding the middle ground will result in the property being co-listed with two REALTORS®, one to represent each spouse.

4. Not having a separation agreement in place can prevent a home’s sale.

A family home’s equity is shared 50/50 in a marriage separation. However, until a separation agreement is in place regarding all assets, listing a home for sale can be premature. One solution can be to agree to sell the home and to deposit the equity in a lawyer’s trust account until a separation agreement is finalized.

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Barbara Scarlett

Barbara Scarlett

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Today Realty Ltd., Brokerage*
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