Working Through the Distress

When clients experience financial or emotional hardship, agents can help them get back on track.

March 18, 2015

Moving Toward a Brighter Future

When Sarah and her husband divorced in 2011, she was left with the mortgage and the rest of the expenses on the home they had built in Dallas, Ga., five years earlier. Sarah, an educator, received child support for their two sons, which helped with the bills, but when her ex lost his job in 2013, his contributions dropped by more than half. Sarah could no longer afford her home.

“I wasn’t sure what to do or what options I had,” says Sarah, who, for privacy, didn’t want her last name used. Stress, uncertainty, and fear defined her world. That’s when she reached out to

Krystine Torella, broker-owner of Team Torella Realty in Marietta, Ga. It turned out Torella’s empathy and sensitivity matched her sales expertise. Though Sarah’s home was $100,000 underwater, Torella helped her navigate the short sale step by step. “I had so many emotions, ranging from hurt and anger to elation that I wouldn’t have to worry anymore. No matter how I felt, Krystine was always there with a smile and a cheerful word.”

Sarah’s ex-husband’s name was still on the mortgage, so Torella kept in contact with him separately about the process. “She talked with him by phone and e-mail, which put him at ease,” Sarah says. “Looking back, I’m not sure the sale would have happened without her intervention.”

Torella says it was a balancing act getting Sarah and her ex on the same page about the sale, but her main goal was to help Sarah weather a difficult situation. “I wasn’t there because I needed a quick sale,” Torella says. “I was there to give her hope about what comes next.”

Sarah’s home went under contract within a week of coming on the market. She and her children now live in a two-bedroom condo in Marietta. Sarah and her ex-husband “now have closure,” Torella says.

A Second Chance at the Dream

Christine and Matt Rockwell feared their days as home owners were over when they lost their Battle Creek, Mich., home to foreclosure in 2011. But last year, they nervously approached Paul McIntyre, an agent with Jaqua, REALTORS®, in Battle Creek whom they had consulted during their foreclosure, in the hope that they could get a second shot at the dream. Since 2011, the family of six had been renting a cramped apartment. Their finances had stabilized, but they had no clue whether they’d be considered eligible.

“Paul’s willingness to work with us convinced me that it could become a reality” to own a home again, Christine Rockwell says. “Instead of running screaming in the other direction, Paul rolled up his sleeves and said, ‘Let’s do this thing.’ ”

With McIntyre’s help, the couple found a house they loved. The financing looked like it was a go, but then the lender reconsidered the past foreclosure and pulled back. “We were crushed and thought our dream would end there,” Rockwell says. “But Paul jumped into action, put us in touch with a lender who could work with us, and put a rush on everything.”

McIntyre counseled the Rockwells to apply for an FHA mortgage, which generally has more lenient requirements after foreclosure than a conventional loan. He worked with the seller’s agent to get the seller’s bank to agree to a longer timeline for the closing. The transaction closed at the end of February.

“This has been a challenge for everyone involved,” Christine Rockwell says. “But Paul worked hard to bring everything together for us.”

Graham Wood
Senior editor

Graham Wood is senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at gwood@realtors.org.

Related