Should we sell the house? | Divorce

Hello Everybody,this is Lee.And welcome to Seasons Ebb and Flow.Another episode here.Today I am talking to Mike Derenthal,and he is a friend of mine in the neighborhood.And he is a realtor who has expertisein selling and buying homes during divorce,post-divorce.And we’ve talked about it a few times in the past.And he’s actually even attended some of my support groupsand answered questions to people who are going through divorceand have questions about housing.And so I decided to bring him on hereand share some of his knowledge with more of you

So thank you,Mike,for coming.Absolutely.Thanks for having me,Lee.Yeah.So I guess just to start with kind of a broad picture question,like when people are going through a divorce,what are some key things that you think they should be considering when they’re thinking about settlement options with maybe like buying their ex out of the house or figuring out what makes the most sense?

What are some things they should be thinking about?Well,usually one of the first things I’ll talk about with somebody,depending on where they are in the process,is to not,first of all,don’t be rushed.

You know,it’s very common when I’m talking to somebody that’s going through divorce,which can be extremely traumatic.You’ve got the trauma of the divorce that’s going on,along with the fact that real estate is typically going to be the largest asset that has to be figured out as part of that divorce.Yeah.And that can be a real,you know,make for,you know,kind of a nasty combination of decision making sometime and a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety and a lot of anger.I mean,it all kind of,you know,it’s,you know,it’s really about the money at that point.Better or worse.And it’s not unusual for me to sometimes talk to somebody that is at a point emotionally where a lot of times they want to get through it as quickly as possible

.Yes.And then afterwards,you’ll talk to somebody a year or two later once the dust has settled.And it’s very common to hear them express regret for quick decisions they made back when they were,you know,in the midst of the of the divorce.

So that’s usually my first bit of advice is,you know,take a breath.Try to you know,I know this it’s a it’s a painful process to go through and people want to get on with life.But,you know,how that real estate part of the equation shakes toucan be can really kind of,you know,determine really financial trajectory.Yeah.Yeah.Absolutely.That that makes so much sense.And,you know,when you’re going through the divorce,the trauma and the stress,your ability to think calmly and really big picture long term is somewhat less strong than it would be in your regular life.And and can be stressful.

It’s such a big investment.So,yeah,I think that’s really,really good advice.I think some people who probably are homeowners before the divorce,the idea of maybe potentially renting for a year or two sounds like they’re taking a step back in life.But I think to what you’re saying,it could just be thought of as a to come and figure out what your best decisions might be.Not that people should choose to rent,but it shouldn’t be something that they just write off as like,oh,no,I can’t be a renter.Yeah,that kind of goes with any any sort of real estate transaction.You know,whether you’re going through divorce,whether or not you’re coming out of,you know,somebody may have just lost a loved one,you know,job situation,maybe just relocated.

I always I always typically tell people,you know,be very careful about making that making that big long term financial decision when you’re in the midst of some sort of,you know,emotional,you know,duress,so to speak.

Sometimes the finances might might force things to happen,you know,at a certain rate,a certain speed.But I’m you know,and I’m in the business.I don’t I don’t necessarily make money when somebody rents a house.I make money when they buy and they sell.But I’ve still over the years always try to tell them,listen,your best interest might be might be best by saying,let me take time out.Rent for six months,12 months.And,you know,get some of these other pieces in place before you before you go make a big purchase decision or decision.It’s so true.

Like my personal experience with that,when we moved to Orlando in 2006,my son was like six months not sleeping through the night.So I was so sleep deprived.And we wanted to find a place to live here.And we came for like a weekend and we’re looking,looking,looking and kind of under pressure,chose a house to buy partly because we had a cat and dog and finding a rental at the time was hard.But in hindsight,it was such a bad move.

We ended up kind of stuck in this area that we didn’t like because we just didn’t know the area.In hindsight,I always recommend renting for a year if you’re going to move to a new area so that you can really know the town and decide what area you want.That was that was our probably worst decision that we ever made in our marriage together.But luckily it was temporary.We were there a few years,but not uncommon,not uncommon.Yeah.

So for people,I know another thing for some of my clients,the idea of the house becomes a really big sticking point in the settlement.If both parties want to keep the house or one party wants to buy the other one out,but it’s probably maybe too much for them.Like,what are some things that you talk to people about when they’re trying to make that decision about keep the house?There’s a there’s gosh,we could we could talk for hours on that one.There’s a there’s a few things I think are worth mentioning.

First of all,you know,and I just had this conversation with somebody a couple of weeks ago.It’s it’s when,you know,a lot of times,you know,more often than not,a divorce is contentious.You’ve lost trust,your anger,your angry.There’s there’s,you know,people people aren’t getting divorced because they like each other and and getting getting advice and direction and input on on,you know,the valuation,what the market’s doing,what you should or shouldn’t do with the property.Finding finding a resource for that,that both parties trust.Yes,can be a huge struggle sometimes.And it’s,you know,people,you know,my my ex was a family law attorney.

So I’ve had a lot of insight into divorce outside of my real estate practice or a year.And so many times I’ve heard stories.People have no idea what what the financial implications are just in terms of attorney’s fees and whatnot when they when things get ugly.Yes.And and it’s you can kind of once you’ve been through it,you can kind of see it.But so,you know,people people can put a lot more money and be in a much better space financially at the end of divorce if they can make little steps,take little steps along the way to try to minimize the the the friction and the anger and the,you know,the stuff that’s going between the two parties.

Yes.And sometimes that’s possible.And sometimes it’s not depending on the circumstances.But but finding,you know,an ideal scenario is that both both parties find a real estate person that they can trust,that can have a a calm business like conversation with both of them.Maybe it’s separate conversations and say,listen,I want to come in here and try to give you a,you know,an honest assessment of what you’re sitting on as far as the valuation of this property.Right.That can be huge.If that can’t happen,you know,then you can,you know,it doesn’t hurt to have,you know,OK,you get somebody you trust,I’ll get somebody I trust.And then that can be tricky then.But but,you know,finding somebody trusted that that can treat it like a business transaction,because that’s really how it needs to be looked at.Yes.

When somebody’s in the middle of a divorce,they there’s so much emotion and we’ll keep coming back to this and we’ll keep saying it over and over again.And there’s the emotion of,you know,maybe I’m emotionally attached to the property.The other one I hear all the time is somebody says,well,I want to keep the house for the kids.

Yes.So I’ve got five more years.So the kids are out.It’s really important to me that I keep this house because people are liken that situation,I find a lot of times people are like so emotionally distraught and they feel a lot of guilt and anger towards what the kids are having to go through.Yes.I haven’t been through it myself and having seen so many other people go through it.

I usually try to find a delicate way of telling people,you know,the kids living in the marital home is really in the grand scheme of things,not as important to the kids typically as it is to the parents.Yes,it’s so true.So true.And I feel like the kids are pretty resilient.If and I think if you can keep the relationship with your ex amicable and they feel loved by both parents through the process,that’s so much more important for the kids well-being than the same home.Yeah.And people will fight over the home until they can’t even talk to each other.And then the kids are living in this space of a war between the parents over a property.And the parents somehow don’t realize that the stress of seeing their parent sat war is so much worse than having to move to a different home.

Yeah.That’s it.It’s hard to explain that to somebody when they’re going through divorce and they’re dealing with those emotions from the outside.It’s so obvious.Yes.People have got all this sadness and anger they’re dealing with and they’re trying to,they’re kind of projecting their issues onto the kids.Right.And like you said,you’ve seen it too.

What’s more important would be,those parents could maintain some civility and the kids really,it doesn’t matter where the kids are living if they’ve got parents that are,that reduce the anger and the stress between them.Exactly.Yeah.I mean,when my ex and I split,we were living in the Philippines and we’d only been there for three months.So the kids had just adjusted to like living in a new country.

We were only going to live there for a year,but it was,and then three months later we told them like,okay,it’s not working.And my ex and I were very amicable through that year.We ended up still traveling together with the kids and you would come over for dinner.So,and so it was a smooth transition in some respects.I mean,don’t get me wrong.

It’s probably was so difficult for them.They didn’t show as much of it as probably was going on below the surface.But you know,I think the amicability,if possible,it’s just,it’s so hard,but we’re the adults and so,yeah.So that,so that’s a big part of it.And you know,and sometimes it’s just not possible given the situation.But I,you know,again,if,if this is helpful to anybody out there that’s watching this,you know,from experience,I can just tell you this,you know,it’s not that,that at the end of the day,the,the emotions tied to that house are usually,you know,are between the husband and the wife.And when the personal attachment to the property,like this is my home,I’ve spent all this time creating this home,all these memories,but all of that,you can make new memories in a new home if need be and make your new home yours.

What about for people who start to look for a new home as a single person?Cause now probably they’ve purchased their previous home with their ex as partner.And that’s,it’s way less intimidating.I think doing something like that,when you have somebody else to help you make the decisions,how do you guide people?If gonna,it’s might be the first time they’re going to buy a home as a single person.

.That can be,that can be a big deal.That can be a really big deal.And a lot of times it’s and if it’s,you know,if it’s a female,sometimes a female can feel low,you know,there’s,you know,not to generalize,but you know,this has been doing a lot of times,it might be the wife that is,it’s kind of out there on her own financially taking a,you know,for better or worse taking a,there’s a bigger financial change.

A lot of times and in the midst of that,trying to make,make a house purchase can be extremely,extremely stressful and extremely overwhelming on the flip side.It can also,it’s,it’s,it can be extremely rewarding for that person once they get through that process and it can kind of threshold you cross into that.

Yes.Empowering like a milestone of like,Oh my gosh,I bought a house for myself.Yeah.And I’m getting,I’m getting goosebumps right now because I’ve experienced that with some of my clients and you see it’s,it’s really,it’s really a significant,some,you know,it’s kind of symbolic of like,okay,I’ve,I’ve,I’ve got this,you know,life goes on and,and life’s,you know,there’s,there’s a lot of positive things that await me out there.Absolutely.So that can be really rewarding.But again,all these,this gets back to,you know there’s an emotional side of it,of an emotional journey.

There’s also a very big important business financial side of it too.And,and that part of it gets back to make sure you’re working with somebody,you know,on all aspects that,that knows what they’re doing,that’s experienced,you know,you’ve got the,you know,you’ve got a real estate aspect of it.You’ve got a financing aspect of it,you know,a lender make,you’ve got,you know,make sure that the property is inspected,you know,you’ve got inspections that are taking place.I mean,there’s,there’s a lot of,there’s a lot of spots where you will see people,you know,I’ve been in this for about 20 years now where,you know,and I was new at the business at some point as well,but be careful,especially when somebody has got all this stuff going on with divorce and whatnot,just be careful who you’re working with because you see somebody that gets themselves into a bad situation because,well,my,my brother-in-law just got his license and he wants to help me out.And again,you want to see people grow their business,but you also want to be very careful,make sure,you know,these,these are important decisions.Absolutely.

You got other stuff going on and then,you know,it’s,it’s I would say that’s,that’s the,that’s the big takeaway is,is,is it’s a business decision.Yeah.I a hundred percent agree.When I was in real estate,one of the things that I saw with first time home buyers is a lot ofttimes they wanted to work with their bank for their loans and at least not to throw banks under the bus or anything,but it seemed like from my perspective,working with the banks was so much harder than if they were working with experienced mortgage broker and the times where the-loans became problems or they had issues or it was so slow.

A lot of times it was almost always when we were working with a bank.So that was just something that I feel like a lot of people assume a big bank is something they can trust.And I just encourage people find professionals.You’re exactly right.

You’re,you’re exactly right.For,for most,for 90% of people out there,they’re going to have a better financing situation if they go probably not what their,what their,you know,their big bank that they may have had checking accounts with for years.Yeah.Not getting special treatment from their banks because of their,their checking accounts and their relationship.Those banks are really not in the business of,of doing residential loans.Yeah.Yeah.The other thing I think might be worth,you know,kind of circling back a little bit is,you know,it gets back to the financing side of it.I’ve seen a lot,I get a lot of phone calls when people are making kind of the financialdecisions and working out the finances of the divorce.

I wish,I wish I could get a hold and talk.I wish more people would understand their finances and what the implications are for them post divorce.Yes.They make those decisions on whether,you know,what sort of cash settlement are you getting?What sort of,you know,alimony payments,how this stuff affects your ability to either keep the house.You might negotiate with the spouse,like,okay,I’m going to keep the house and then find out after you’ve made that decision that you don’t,you know,you don’t qualify.And you’ve got to basically qualify to maintain,to keep that loan.Take the spouse off.There’s all sorts of complications that get involved,that go into house.It’s financed by two married individuals.Exactly.

Leaving and then letting the other one keep the house.And most people seem to make a lot of decisions with attorneys.Yeah.And then afterwards they’re like,wait a minute,we got to sell the house now.We weren’t planning on that.Right.Yeah.And you don’t want to be circumvented on the front end with,with,if somebody again,pauses,talks to the right people and says,make sure we’re doing our homework.To keep the house.Yeah.Cause I think people end up keeping the house if they can,but they’re house poor.So they can’t ever go out for dinner or take a vacation with their kids.And yeah,these big trade-offs in order to have the house.And there’s creative solutions as well.Like at least,you know,when you’re in mediation,you can come up with creative solutions with your ex.Like for my situation,we agreed that I was getting the house,but we kept the loan.It was in his name at the time.We kept it in his name for three years.And the agreement was that I would refinance after three years,which I did.And then the house was in my name,but just to give me a chance to get settled,figure out my income and how the loan would work best for me.And I got really lucky because interest rates went down in those three years.

So it just panned out,but we had an amicable relationship enough to for him to trustme,to keep the loan in his name.And I know that’s not always going to be the case for people,but I think people need to think out of the box sometimes when they’re inthat mediation room.Yeah.And the other,the other thing,and that’s to,I would add to that is anytime a divorce is finalizedand it’s not uncommon for a divorce to be finalized and the piece of realestate is still,is still owned between the two parties,similar to you.And you’ve got to have a really,my opinion,a really good relationship with the ex,pull that off because there’s so much,like you said,there’s so much that can happen a year or two,three years out in terms of,you know,the value of the property might change drastically.It might change drastically.The ability for the,the one spouse to maintain,to be able to afford the financing,right.A lot of unknowns.And I think a lot of that,you know,if the,if the two parties can ask themselves some honest questions and almost be likea,you know,what’s,what could possibly go wrong here?Right.To have that conversation on the front end and say,you know what,okay,if that happens,XYZ happens.Yes,we’re both,we’re both okay to accommodate and work with each other on that.Exactly.Not the case.And then you’ll get to point three years later,a spouse is trying to sell the house that they still own.And all of a sudden the other spouse think,no,that house is worth a lot more,you know,I’m not going to sign.Then all of a sudden,so it’s,that’s a,that’s a pretty special case.I tell people be very careful with that one.Yeah.Yeah.

I think we did get lucky thatonce we made the agreement,the agreement was worked out really well for us,but I think there’s a lot to what you just said with that.Yeah.Well,it’s well part,you know,maybe you got lucky that you also,you and your,you and your ex,you know,it takes the right kind of personalities and right,right.Level of cooperation.Yeah.Hey,this is,you know,big picture.We’re working,we’re both still committed to doing this and not,you know,not going to,you know,turn the screws on somebody.

Exactly.Yeah.For us,we both have a good level of trust with each other and want the best for eachother and,you know,want the best for our kids.And I think that that has just served us well.So what about the age of the kids when,you know,if the kids are younger and they’re thinking about buying or selling the home versus if the kids are like two or three years out from going to college,like how do you guide people differently based on the age of their kids?Well,first of all,I’ll tell you this,whether you’re,whether you’re in a process of going through divorce or not,it’s so common for people when they’re,when they’re close to becoming empty nesters or they’ve become empty nesters.I hear all the time,at least somebody says,well,we’re going to hang onto the house because we want a spot for the kids to comeback and visit.Or,you know,this is,this is the house they all grew up in and we can’t wait to have the kids,you know,have grand kids come back and all that stuff.Oh my gosh.I think that all the time about this house.So,you know,you want the hard truth.Yes.

They are almost 99.99% likely not going to be back is as much as you envision.Right.Right.It’s just,it’s a sad reality of it.And you know,you and I are close to being,you know,kind of same stage as far as where our kids are.Yeah.Quality of it is that once they,once they’re launched,you know,maintain that house with the idea that this is where my kids want to be.Right.It’s probably it’s,it’s,it’s what you’re telling yourself because it feels good.It’s probably not the reality of it.And then I usually end up getting a phone call.I can’t,I mean,I get phone calls all the time.Mike,the kids just aren’t coming back.We got the 3000 square foot house with the pool,right.But we’re just not seeing as much as we thought.And,you know,so,so that’s something I would say,try to be as realistic as you can on that when you’ve got kids or older teenagers,you’re going to find yourself,especially if you’re a divorce situation where those kids are going to startbouncing back and forth between two properties,you’re going to find yourself in a home.It’s a lot more house than you need half the time.True.So true.Yeah.Oh,and that’s really,really a very good point.And back to the,as far as the younger kids go,I’m again,having been through the process myself and having dealt with so many peoplethat have gone through it.

You know,I,I,I’m a,I just,I’m fairly adamant in believing that the actual physical location of wherethose kids are living is,is,is,has such a minuscule amount of importance to all the other aspects of thingsthat are going on with the,with divorce.Yeah.Thanks to kids.Right.Yeah.I think you’re that’s so,so true.Yeah.Let me see about any other questions that I have thought of.Um,well anything from your personal experience or things that you want to add that Ihave not thought of.Yeah.I mean,I’ll kind of go back to the importance of similar to you,my ex and I think did have,had a fairly amicable divorce and we,you know,took work from,from all involved,my ex,myself,the kids,but we,we put work and effort into it.And,and so I’ve got kind of a,I’ve got maybe a,a little bit of a,you know,had an easier time with it than I know a lot of people,things that people have to deal with.But one thing I find myself telling people is,is be very conscious of how,how little small things can blow up very quickly.Ah,it’s so true.And,and it’s,you know,and people that can put the effort into and try to try to take a step back and,and look at a big picture,30,000feet level,you know,yes.What’s going on.

Yes.We typically be glad they did.Once they get through it.Exactly.And you know,I,I jokingly tell people,my,you know,my ex and I’ve,we,you know,we divvied up 20 plus years of assets in about 30 minutes,fairly amicable way.And then we got into some of our biggest disagreements over some really stupidstuff.Yes.Fortunately,we both were able to kind of take,you know,step back,cool our jets and whatnot.Right.But it is so easy when you’re in the middle of that kind of stuff,you know,stuff that’s really not worth a lot of money.No.And,and,and really doesn’t,in the big picture,it doesn’t mean a whole lot,but you can see things totally turn things sideways.Yes.It’s so true.And if you have lawyers who aren’t encouraging you to likeslow down,some lawyers are really good at that.And some,you know,they just see you spinning out and I don’t know,maybe don’t know how to stop that,that ball from rolling.But yeah,my saying to all my clients is choose your battles and really,really be selective,like the ones that are worth it,but like,don’t sweat the small stuff.Don’t sweat the small stuff.And,and from a,from a,you know,and there’s different things,you know,different people have different or prioritize different things.If you prioritize the finances,I can tell you every one of those little battles,it turns into big one,caution money.Yes.Yes.Bottom line,they cost you,they cost you money.Every time there’s an attorney involved,every time there’s a delay.And then if you’re,you know,if you’re more concerned about kind of the emotional,you know,relationship side of it,they,they,they chip away at that too,you know,get through this at some point.Everybody,you know,I remember everybody telling me that my first year and I was,it was brutal.And everybody’s like,it gets better.It gets better.You hear that.Right.It truly does.You get to a point where you can look back in hindsight and be like,you know what?I really am glad I was able to kind of like maintain some,some level of civility.

Absolutely.Yeah.That year when you’re in it,it feels so hard to what that year when you’re in it,that first year and the negotiations with the divorce,it is so emotional and so raw,but keeping that rational part of your brainengaged,that frontal cortex,like calming yourself down,taking breaths,taking a break when things are,when you can feel your nervous system going into like fight or flightmode,if you can catch yourself,it pays off in dividends for your sanity,for your kids,for a co-parenting relationship.It’s just in so many ways financially.And,yeah,it’s,that’s really,I think the key.And I’ll throw this out there.This might be a little bit off topic,but I’ve got,I feel like I’ve got some insight just having,you know,live with somebody that was,you know,family law attorney a long time,you know,the choice of attorneys that people make on the frontend or at any point in the process is,can,is,is another huge factor.I know my ex used to,you know,there’s certain cases that she,you know,certain,you know,certain attorneys,they have a reputation like,okay,if you,if you sign on with this attorney,you will be going to court,you know,spend a lot of money.Others are more focused on like,how can we get through this as,you know,as painlessly as possible.Exactly.And again,it gets back to the real estate thing.

Do your,do your research and try to take a business approach to it and try to getthe emotion out of when you’re making these decisions on the people you’d beworking with.Yeah,a hundred percent.Um,I’ve spoken about this in a previous video,but my ex since he wasn’t living in the country,chose a lawyer really quickly.And,uh,he was not a very helpful lawyer for him.He didn’t prepare him well.And when we got to mediation,like 30 minutes into mediation,his lawyer was like,we’re going to court.We’re just going to go to court.And my ex just stopped listening to his lawyer.Thank God.We had a really good mediator who was also a divorce attorney.And,uh,pretty much like my ex’s lawyer did nothing forhim.He,and,uh,thank God my exrationally came to his senses and was like,all right,this guy is in it for me at this point.And,uh,but some,you know,it’s hard,I think to have that wherewithal when you’re in the mediation room.So choosing the right lawyer,legal professional,who’s going to guide you with your best interests in mind is,is crucial.Like it really is.So yeah,get recommendations and find someone who you have a good rapport with where you trust them.So,so that’s such good advice.Yeah.Yeah.All right.This was really,really helpful and great.Like I really appreciate you taking the time to do this.I think,I think it’s going to help a lot of people.If people want to like follow you on social media,as far as like learning a little bit more for home buying in general,

where are you?Mike Dierenthal.Just,uh,there’s,I’m the only one out there,so they can Google Mike Dierenthal.I’m on Facebook.I’m on,uh,Twitter,Instagram,LinkedIn.And so,yeah,they can put my name up at the Google bar and I pop up.Okay.That’s great.And we’ll put some links to all of them in the show notes as well.So people can look at that,but thank you,Mike.Have a great Rep Friday weekend and I will see you probably at some point in the neighborhood.

All right.Thanks Lee .All right.Take care.

Whenever I’m going to hit.

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