Should an Agent be "neutral" in a divorcing real estate transaction ?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams 414-525-0563 57026-90 Broker

 The most FAQ we get in our divorce course is HOW do you "remain neutral as a real estate agent in a divorce ?  The answer is that you Divorce Real Estate and Mentoringdo not...'Surprised ? I am sure many of you are...that is the most frequently made comment on our posts as well..."I did two divorce transactions and they worked well because I remained neutral."   As the mentor of this course and a "veteran" of hundreds of divorce related transactions....neutral is not the answer to a succssful closing.

  "Surprised ?   We bet you are.

Neutral has  been defined as being:




While OBJECTIVE by our OWN defintion  has a distinctly different definition.



  Definition   There are dictionaries that use those words interchangably each to define the other.   We see a distinct difference not only in definition but in how we view this niche of our practice.

    Divorce by it's very existance says that there is some disagreement in the relationship...who did what to who and when. What was and/or continues to be a source of discord in the marriage...the way money was handled, the desire to go different directions the "grown part syndrome", infidelity. Lots of reasons and often more than one which has caused the relationship to break down and the determined solution is to disolve it legally....and it may take a while longer to resolve it emotionally.   

      It is not an agent's position to determine who is at fault...who should "repent financially" for what the other spouse determines as their cause of the relationship being irretrievably broken. In that sense....objectivity rules. knew there would be one...there are "rules" you have to enforce.  Because we have been in this niche a long time...we are  written into divorce decreedivorce decrees by name wth the clear instruction that both parties are to do exactly as the Hansons direct for all things real estate . This includes but is not limited to ...beng cooperative with showings...having the house "show ready". turning in paperwork that is required in a short sale on a timely basis, responding to amendments and requests for fixes that may be required post inspection to name a few.  When not following the rules by one or the other spouse....or BOTH becomes an issue...the objectivity takes over...who is or is  not following the rules and how will that issue be addressed.  Without this application of objectivity the whole transaction can easily get out of control and create bigger problems to resolve.

          This is a professioal service post brought to you by Sally K.and David L. Hanson  and a Freqently asked question we answer to Real estate agents

everywhere .



Posted by

Sally K. & David L. Hanson, ABR, CDPE, CSS, e-Pro,ILHM, REDS

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Mary Yonkers 06/09/2017 05:57 AM
Real Estate Best Practices
divorce and real estate
real esate and divorce

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Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Not everyone can do it and know you two have mastered how to get the job done. Great post and it will make the phone ring.

Jun 05, 2017 06:58 AM #5
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Sally and David our responsibility is the the spouse we are representing.  It does not mean we can't be fair, but we would not be giving our client the representation they deserve if they are not the priority for us.

Jun 05, 2017 07:48 AM #6
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Good morning, Sally and David --- surprised, not me -- your explanation is spot on.   

Jun 05, 2017 08:03 AM #7
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Sally and David- you make an excellent point- being neutral can often come across as being disinterested.  You know exactly how to do what it in a manner that is fair and objective. 

Jun 05, 2017 04:36 PM #8
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

If only the chicken would cross the road straight too, Sally!  Aah, you have a difficult road in maintaining calmness with all and being the neutral person which is why so many in WI come to you for selling advice.

Jun 06, 2017 11:11 AM #9
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

You've made an important distinction here!  I would think objectivity in these circumstances is rare, if not impossible.

Jun 07, 2017 02:37 AM #10
Joan Cox
Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Sally & David, the one divorce I can remember way back years ago -- so was not neutral.  The husband cheated on the wife, and they had 3 beautiful straight A children.   They fought for a whole year, $60K to the lawyer, and had restraining orders against each other.    The husband was awful, and flirted with me too, awful! 

Jun 07, 2017 06:55 AM #11
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Hi, Sally and David.  This is a very interesting and enlightening post, thanks.

Jun 08, 2017 05:36 AM #12
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Sally and David

In a real estate transaction were the sellers are going through a divorce. We have to be seen as an adviser in the transaction  . . . . and remain neutral.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jun 08, 2017 06:58 PM #13
Mary Yonkers
Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate - Erie, PA
Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor

Great post with excellent advice for clients as well as agents. Thanks, Sally K. & David L. Hanson 

Jun 09, 2017 05:56 AM #14
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224


                      Thank you Sally K. & David L. Hanson 


Jun 10, 2017 05:25 PM #15
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Sally and David. I so enjoy your posts and always learn from them.

Jun 11, 2017 05:17 AM #16
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker

Good morning Sally and David. Seeing the job through is the goal. Keep your eyes on it! Enjoy your day!

Jun 11, 2017 06:07 AM #17
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I can see why Kathy chose to highlight your post this week!

Jun 11, 2017 06:25 AM #18
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

I think in this context, agents who say they remain neutral mean that they don't take sides with one spouse against the other.

Jun 11, 2017 09:30 AM #19
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Sally, that a niche market with a great need for professionals. Thanks for the excellent advice.

Jun 11, 2017 11:42 AM #20
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Sally, 

Our responsibility is to get the house sold and to notice where the eggshells on the floor are so we don't step on them! this is what you do so well!

Jun 11, 2017 03:09 PM #21
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I was surprised and impressed by your answer! Yes, you make perfect sense! I'm so glad Kathy shared this!

Jun 11, 2017 05:07 PM #22
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Sally and David:

You've made an important distinction between being neutral and objective. It makes perfect sense and something for me to keep in mind, should I have a transaction involving a divorcing couple in the future - hasn't happened yet!


Jun 12, 2017 04:05 PM #23
Janice Hope Zaltman Realtor,LEED AP
United Realty Group - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Sally and David: Have dealt with one divorce in the past and each party was complaining to me about the other. Have learned to NEVER say anything that would have one think I was taking sides. We are in an emotional business as it is and that takes it to another level. Going to stick to newly married. 

Jun 23, 2017 02:39 PM #24
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Sally K. & David L. Hanson

WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce - Short Sale
For All Things Wisconsin Real Estate...Call the Hansons
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