Divorce Causes Problems During Home’s Sale

Q: My son is 52 years old and currently unemployed with two young daughters. He was the primary care giver at home and his wife was the breadwinner. They divorced a while ago and the divorce decree required them to sell the home and split the proceeds.

Their million dollar home has been on the market for a year but the former wife refuses to allow a sign on the property or reduce the price of the home for sale. Other homes in the neighborhood are selling. There is a court hearing scheduled soon on child support.

What can we do to get her to move more aggressively on selling the home and place a sign on the property?

A: It’s unfortunate that divorcing and divorced couples are often unable to see eye-to-eye on issues relating to their finances. There are many reasons one side may make a decision when it comes to the marketing of property that seems counter-intuitive and even counter-productive.

For example, if there are children involved and they are still living in the home, the ex-wife may not want the kids seeing a for sale sign on their home. So, she may decide not to place a sign on the property.

But in a tough market, you need every bit of marketing mojo to sell a home, particularly in communities where not that much is selling.

Signage allows potential buyers to see what’s for sale in a particular community. If there is no sign, some of those potential buyers might not know the property is for sale. While the vast majority of buyers these days start their search for a home on the Internet – indeed many of them utilizing their cell phones and handheld computers to pinpoint homes for sale in the immediate area – others drive around with their brokers or by themselves and look at neighborhoods and individual blocks.

It’s those folks you may miss in marketing your property without the proper signage.

In fact, that’s the way we found our current home. If there had been no sign on the property, we never would have known the property existed and would never have purchased it.

Advise your son to open a conversation with his ex-spouse on why she refuses to allow a sign on the property. Once you understand the issue, your son can speak to the real estate agent and see if there are ways of addressing any concerns the ex-spouse has. If she just wants to punish your son by selling the house so slowly it’s financially painful for him, you may not get her to change her mind without a court order.

As far as getting the ex-wife to agree to a new listing price for the property, if she is unwilling to budge on the issue, you might also have to go back to court. Unfortunately, that’s why divorces are handled in court and why divorces take so long and why even after a divorce is final some judges still have to handle issues pertaining to the divorce settlement.

Your son will have to talk to his divorce attorney and see what his options are. He should also talk to his real estate agent and get a list of homes that are for sale in his neighborhood along with a list of homes that have recently sold.

Once you have that information, along with a new comparative market analysis (CMA), from the real estate agent, you can see where the home should be priced and have your son’s attorney talk to your son’s ex-wife’s attorney – unless your son and his ex are on speaking terms – and try to work the issue out.


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