We need to talk about control.
This series about selling due to separation would not be complete without talking about the games people play and how they try to manipulate each other.
Incredibly, the blazing hot emotions involved with divorce can turn a previously loving relationship into a battle zone. Sometimes, the sale of a house becomes the last pawn in that battle to the death.
As a real estate agent, I get a front row seat to such gladiator games.
It’s not a fun sport to watch.
I also don’t plan to out anyone’s real, personal story, so will instead paint a picture with broad strokes that have applied to many situations.
One common situation is when a couple has separated but continues live in the same house until it sells. She never wanted the divorce and is resentful about it. He just wants to get out of there as soon as possible.
Guess how that pans out during negotiations.
Any buyer who comes along to make offers will be roped into the manipulation and mind games these two end up playing together. Offers – even ones perfectly matching the seller’s requirements – will be rejected. Or stalled. Or have a last-minute change added. Anything to hang on – to keep the unwanted future from unfolding. Anything to keep him around, even if it’s just to fight.
In another common situation, one spouse has moved out, and the other remains in the house, which is for sale. The animosity between them is thick enough to slice.
He decides the house is the battlefield where he will win back control over her. He’ll sign no papers. Or he’ll leverage the house to renegotiate divorce terms. Or he’ll simply stall, perhaps suddenly “needing to talk to a lawyer”, so the buyers who have finally come with an offer walk away, tired of waiting for these two to get their heads on straight.
Sometimes the attempts to manipulate are successful enough to wreak emotional havoc.
Most often though, the result of all this arm-bending is financial loss, even to the point of bankruptcy.
When people sell due to separation, the dynamics are tricky.
Tips For Buyers:
If you’re trying to offer on a house where separation is an issue, bring an extra helping of patience and compassion. These are hurting people in an emotional volatile state, neither responsible for the other’s actions.
Try to remember none of their antics, behaviors, or inconvenient requests is about you. Most of the time, it’s about their last desperate attempt to control or at least hurt their spouse. Try to cut them some slack.
Tips For Sellers:
The best advice I can give to couples selling due to separation is to decide as much as possible before you sell.
Any decision you can make before separating and before selling is better.
If one of you is leaving the house, try to decide the division of assets before actually leaving. Get it in writing and sign if you can. Once a spouse actually leaves, it seems sad emotions ignite into flames of rage and bitterness, and the control games begin.
Don’t think it won’t happen to you. Or that you and your spouse are too sensible to become like “those people” who break down and lash out. You’re not. This happens. And not just to ‘other people’.
The best thing you can do is not underestimate the power of emotions involved.
Head trouble off at the pass – discuss and agree on as much as you can before walking out that door.
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate