Distressed Sellers: How to Deal With Couples Getting Divorced


w copy


How do you deal with sellers going through a divorce (and get the listing)?

#1. Get into a conversation with both of them. Ask for the other spouse’s contact information and reach out to them to see how you can help. Or, do a three-way conference call with both of them present. No matter your track record or how close you are to one of them, it’s the first agent that gets into a conversation with the husband and the wife and makes them both feel comfortable that gets the listing. 

#2. Identify the motivation of both parties. 

  1. Who’s living in the house right now?
  2. Do they want to save the marriage? Does one of them want to keep the house?
  3. Who’s currently making the house payments? How is the money going to be split between them? If one is getting more than the other, that will affect the other’s motivation to sell.

#3. Never take sides. Reassure the other spouse that you don’t know well that you’ll represent them both fairly.

#4. Get them both to agree on one thing: selling their house for the most money in the least amount of time

#5. Stay in 3-way communication. Throughout the entire process, keep both parties informed. You can do group text, group chat, or group email. 

Whenever you’re dealing with difficult emotional transactions, you want to let them know you’re there for them & that you’re committed to getting them the best results. If you want FREE training on this, check out my upcoming free live masterclass.


Full Transcript

Stressful times create stressful relationships, and that stress can turn into distress. 

And one of the things I’m hearing more and more, and hearing agents asking about is, “How do I help couples who are going through a divorce? How do I deal with that situation? I’ve got one of the sellers who’s talking to me and the other one’s got another agent they want to use, and they’re fighting about everything.” And you’re stuck in the middle. What do you do?

Hey there, it’s Kevin Ward, the founder of YesMasters Real Estate Success Training, helping you get more yeses and more successes in your business and in your life. And today we’re going to talk about how to deal with sellers who are going through a divorce. 

Now, I classify this as distressed sellers. And over the next few weeks we’re going to talk about distressed sellers, like those who have had notice of defaults on their home, their homes are in default, they’ve been laid off or whatever.

But today I want to talk specifically about a couple who’s going through a divorce and you are trying to get the listing. 

Now, typically you get introduced to one of them, whether somebody refers you to them or you know them or they call you or however it plays out, you typically are in a conversation with one half of the couple of soon to be ex-spouses, and it runs into all kinds of issues. So I want to just talk about some scenarios and five keys to winning in these kinds of situations and how to deal with couples who are getting a divorce.

5 Keys to Dealing with a Couple Getting Divorced

Key #1. Key number one is you have to get into a conversation with both of them. This is the first key. And I had this happen many, many times where I’d be talking to one of them and they’re like, “Well I want to meet with you and you were referred to me and I want to list with you. But my soon to be ex-spouse, they’ve got a friend or they’ve got somebody that’s referred to them and they want to use them. And so, how do I get my husband to agree to hire you? How do I get my wife to agree to hire you?”

So here’s the first key. You got to get into a conversation with both of them. So what you do then is simply say, “Hey, thank you so much, I appreciate that. So why don’t you do this? Give me their contact information. I’m just going to reach out to them. I’m going to introduce myself to them and see what I can do to help. Or can you get us on a three-way conference call or a three-way zoom call? What do we need to do to get into a conversation where I can talk to your soon-to-be ex-spouse? I’m happy to reach out to them for you. Or we can set up a time when all three of us can talk. Okay?”

So the first thing is you got to do that. You got to figure out, you got to get past the resistance of the other one. Here’s who gets the listing. The first agent that can get into a conversation with the husband and the wife and get them both to feel comfortable. That’s who gets the listing every single time. It doesn’t matter how good you are, your track record, it doesn’t matter how close a relationship you have with one half of the couple, you have to get into a conversation with both of them.

Key #2. The second key is to identify the motivation of both parties. They don’t have the same motivation anymore. They are not pulling in the same direction. They’re pulling in opposite directions. There’s typically conflict. There’s definitely tension. And so you’ve got to figure out what their motivation is.

So here are three questions that you need to get answers to, to know and understand motivation. 

1.Number one, who is actually living in the house right now? Because if you got one spouse living in the house and the other one’s already moved out, I guarantee you the person who’s already moved out is way more motivated to sell that house than the person living there. Okay? If you’ve got one that would love to save the marriage and the other one who’s off to the races and wants out of the marriage, that person who is trying to save the marriage is going to be much harder to get them to agree and cooperate in the sale of the house.

So I’ve got to know, what do they want? Okay, so number one, who lives in the house? 

  1. Number two, what are they wanting? Do they want to just… If they want to save the marriage, they probably want to keep the house. So sometimes that’s one of them that’s holding on, holding onto hope and this is the last remnant. Or this house has so many good memories they don’t want to let go of it. I just need to understand that because leading one to a decision to sell the house, to get the house listed and sell it and price it right and all that, may be a different conversation and a different emotional process for one than it is for the other.
  2. And then the third question you got to get answered too, is what about the money? And here’s two parts to the money. One, who’s making the payments on the house right now? So I’ve seen this happen and maybe not so much today, but a lot more back in the 1900s, 20 years ago, when I first started real estate 24 years ago, was you’d have the husband, he’s moved out being the good guy or being the bad guy. He’s already moved out, he’s making the payment, especially if he’s the one that left. And if he’s doing some indiscretion or whatever, he’s making the house payments out of guilt and the wife is living in the house. Well, he was ready to get it sold and move on with his life and she’s living rent free and living house payment free. Why should she sell? Why should she be in a hurry? So you need to understand the money side of it, who’s making the payments?

And then the other part of the money side is how is the money going to be split? Now, typically it’s split 50/50. When that’s the case, then that part of the motivation is the same. If it’s going to be split any other way, then that can dramatically affect the motivation of one party or another.

So number one, you got to get into a conversation with both of them. Number two, you gotta identify the motivation of both of them, because motivation is the key moving part here.

Key #3. Number three, never take sides. You can’t take sides. And if you know one half of the couple and you don’t know the other one, you have to communicate to the one you do not know, “Look, all I want to do is help facilitate you guys in getting on with your life because I’m going to represent both of you. And one thing I can promise you, I will never take sides. So if one of you comes to me and you want me to take your side, it’s not going to happen because I’m going to, I always represent both of you. I’m going to always tell you the truth. I’m going to treat both of you fairly and be honest with both of you the whole way. And my job is to help you get the best results in the sale of this house so that you can move on with your life. That’s it, period.” 

You can never take sides and you’ve got to reassure the person that you know less well that that is going to be the case.

Key #4. Number four is you have to get them to agree on one thing, get them to agree on one thing, and that is selling the house. They don’t have to be on the same page on anything else and all the tension, all the anger, all that kind of stuff. It’s better in my experience, and I’ve done dozens of divorce situations, it is better in my experience if I can get them to meet together civilly. 

They don’t have to sit close to each other, I don’t care. We can triangulate in the room, but I need them listening to each other and listening to me together so that we’re all on the same page to get one result. Let’s get the house sold in the best time, with the most amount of money.

If one of them is living in the property, the one who’s not, let’s be cooperative and be respectful here. The one who’s living in the property, let’s be respectful to the other person of the sacrifice they’re making by taking their time and letting you be here a little longer or whatever. You’ve got to get them on the same page of one thing, one agenda, one goal. And that is to get the house sold for them.

Key #5. Number five is stay in three-way communication. The entire process from beginning to end is you only communicate with both of them, okay? I don’t mean they have to be at the same moment at the same time necessarily, but if you talk to one person and you tell them one thing or ask them one thing or they give you feedback, the other person needs to be involved in that conversation. 

So I’m talking to this one person and I’m going to immediately call the other person and tell them exactly what the conversation was. If I tell them one thing, I’m going to call the other person, tell them the same thing so that we’re always on the same page. And today, more and more of that communication is done in writing by text message. Do everything with a three-way group text. Everything.

Now, frankly, whether it’s a divorce situation or not, anytime you’re representing two people, buyers or sellers, like a couple, every text message should be a three-way group chat. Just trust me on this. And if you’ve been in real estate a while you’ve had this happen, you talk to one of them and then you met with both of them and you just assumed that spouse one told spouse two, but they didn’t. Like, “I thought you’d tell them.” “I didn’t know about this. Why are you here? Why are we meeting? What is this? I didn’t hear about this.” And, “You didn’t talk?” “Well, no, we’ve been busy.” Okay. So three-way conversations. Always group text, group emails, every single conversation. Make sure that every single time, every single party knows every single thing.

These are not fun transactions. They can be painful, they can be difficult, they can be tumultuous. You can have tons of emotional ups and downs. But when you show up professionally and you take people through the process and you let them know you’re committed and that you care about them and you care about getting the results, you’ll become the one that they trust, the one they will remember and the one they will refer.

So if this video has been helpful for you, make sure you give it a thumbs up. I want to hear your experiences. What have you experienced in working with people going through a divorce or tense situations like those sellers?

Put your comments, let me hear your stories in the comments. If you haven’t been here before, make sure you subscribe to the channel and play to win. And always expect yes.



Facebook Comments