The Trouble with Getting Divorced...

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

There are times when it really is better for the seller to leave the job completely in the estate agents hands and leave the property when prospective buyers come to view.

There are a number of reasons that people sell property, but the one thing that can affect a deal is when a couple are getting divorced. In cases such as these, very often one of the parties is somewhat bitter and doesn’t actually want to sell – and this can cause havoc. People are perceptive and walking into a property where the atmosphere is so thick it can literally be cut by a knife is unpleasant for all concerned. Everyone is going to feel uncomfortable, including the agent, who may well start to avoid showing the property at all.

Buying property is based on an emotional decision and even if the agent explains before the time why the property is on the market and that the issue is a sensitive one, the wrong vibes are going to put sensitive buyers off, regardless of how much they love the house. Under these circumstances, it is better to agree to disagree and leave the house when it is being viewed rather than staying and souring a deal because of pent up emotion.

Most of us have heard the urban legend regarding the woman who is so bitter and twisted about her husband’s affair that on hearing that any possessions accrued during the marriage are to be sold and the proceeds split, advertises her husband’s prized Ferrari in the local newspaper for R10. This doesn’t happen in real life and in most cases both sellers want to get the best out of the deal – regardless of the circumstances.

There are times when it is better to accept what is happening and walk away and leave the fight where it belongs – in the courtroom. Sabotaging a deal purely for spiteful, emotional reasons is going to come back to bite and is something that is likely to be regretted at a later stage.

Buyers have a nasty knack of choosing the wrong time to view a property – unfortunately this is one of the downsides of selling property. If they arrive and hear that the sellers are in the middle of a domestic, most will leave without stepping through the front door. Another common mistake unhappy sellers make is discussing personal issues with buyers. Sure they want to hear why the property is being sold, but they do not want to hear the gory details of the seller’s marriage and why the one party is being totally unreasonable – they just want to look at the house and make an informed buying decision.

Sellers should, however, put the agent in the picture, explaining why they want to put the property on the market. Again, the agent is not a friend; he is there to do a job and although he may well sympathise, is not going to take sides or be that interested in the finer details of the dispute, he just wants to sell the house for the best possible price.

It is certainly not the buyer’s or the agent’s fault that the sellers are getting a divorce, but somehow many unhappy sellers unconsciously act as though it is. Do yourselves a favour, if you find yourself in this type of predicament, get out of the house and stay out until the agent has done his job. There will be plenty of time to meet the buyer once the deal has been signed. At that stage no amount of animosity between the two of you is going to affect the deal and you can both move on to better things with the money you have made from the deal.

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