Real Estate Pros Discovering 'Divorce Niche'

April 2, 2013

Some real estate professionals are finding a big source of their clients are coming from breakups. Real estate professionals who find themselves an agent in a divorce situation say it’s not easy to navigate, particularly if they’re representing two people who aren’t even speaking to one another or when the one partner wants to make sure the other doesn’t come out ahead. 

“We specialize in it,” Vicki Stout, an agent at Keller Williams Suburban Realty in Livingston, N.J., told The New York Times. Stout and her business partner Bob Bailey-Lemansky say real estate transactions involving breakups make up about half of their business.  

In finding what works in the “divorce niche,” Stout and Bailey-Lemansky say that having one man and one woman on the sales team can make couples more comfortable. They realize they will have to have every conversation at least twice and navigate carefully when couples are fighting or even when clients have restraining orders on one another. 

Many brokers say they try to keep the word “divorce” quiet in a real estate transaction so buyers don’t then think “fire sale,” and that the sellers are desperate.  For example, Frances Katzen, managing director at Douglas Elliman, says that even if a closet looks bare on one side, she’ll rearrange it so the home looks less like a divorce situation. 

The real estate professionals who specialize in working with divorce clients say the transactions can be emotionally heated but when the home does eventually sell, it often means more business for the agent. The parting couple then will look for separate places to live and often call on that agent again.

Source: “After the Breakup, They Help Sell the House,” The New York Times (April 1, 2013)

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