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The Right Agent for Divorce Home Sales

Often the most valuable asset owned jointly by a married couple, a home represents a significant point of conflict in a divorce. Couples go from jointly owning and living in their home to having to make difficult decisions about what to do with it—in a recent episode of Ask Lloyd, Nick Bush, owner of The Address, a DMV-based real estate agency, joined Lloyd to discuss some of the issues related to this contentious part of the divorce process.

When is an Agent Needed?

It is always a good idea to work with an experienced agent when a home is owned by a couple getting a divorce. Even if one party plans to stay in the home, the other party is entitled to a buy-out of any mortgage. This means that an appraisal is going to be necessary. In a market with very low inventory, which is the case in the DMV area, the appraiser may not have the total amount of information available on the house’s value because there are fewer comparable sales. An agent can offer additional insights that can help establish a valuation for the purposes of dividing the marital estate as well as refinancing the property.

Another important reason to work with an experienced agent is that the couple is likely experiencing conflict, so they are not well suited to collaborating on a “for sale by owner” of the home. Throughout the listing and sale process, there are dozens of decisions, from expenses to help increase the value (e.g., home repairs, painting, or staging) to evaluating and negotiating offers—an unbiased agent with the ability to remain neutral and motivated for the best interests of both parties. The agent can serve as a trusted intermediary between the couple so that they don’t have to have contact during the process. I

If a couple can’t decide on an agent, several ways exist to address the problem. A simple solution is to have both parties select their agent and allow those two agents to agree to a neutral third. If this isn’t possible, the issue might need to be raised in court. Since a judge is by no means an expert in home sales, it is a better idea to try to find a compromise before putting this issue into litigation.

Working With an Expert

Being able to clearly and appropriately testify as an independent expert or as the agent of one of the parties is a critical skill that any party should consider when picking an agent for a home sale arising from a divorce. Nick is a Certified Real Estate Divorce Expert, which means he has been specifically trained for some of the unique aspects of real estate in the context of a divorce. His focus on these types of transactions means he understands some unique aspects of matters that arise for couples dealing with their home when they get divorced. Among other special training, he has learned and experienced acting as a witness in the litigation context. In addition, Nick uses his training and experience to focus on being an unbiased agent when working with couples in conflict.

The end of a relationship brings some difficult changes, and losing the family home can be traumatic for one or both parties. To manage this transition, it is essential to work with the right professionals to minimize conflict and ensure the parties have come to a fair outcome that maximizes their respective benefits.

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If you need legal representation in Maryland or the District of Columbia, consider contacting Malech Law. With over 25 years of experience, we are committed to providing excellent service to our clients. Our accolades include the 2024 Family Law American Association of Attorney Advocates recognition, being a finalist in the 2024 Best of Bethesda Readers’ Pick for Best Family Law Practitioner, and winning the same award in 2022. We’ve also been honored with the Lawyers of Distinction Award for Excellence in Divorce and Family Law for the past five consecutive years. At Malech Law, we approach every case with respect, empathy, and a dedication to excellence. Contact us today for professional legal assistance.

Visit Malechlaw.com or call (202) 441-2107.

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