The painting that almost killed the sale

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Since I haven't been an agent for a good many years now, I had no intention of posting to the  "March to a Solution | ActiveRain March 2023 Challenge" .

Then I remembered a strange situation.

We were selling what we referred to in those days as a 'Hippie Cabin." We had a lot of those in the 80's and early 90's after the hippies who flooded our mountains in the 70's got tired of living like the early pioneers.

The couple that owned the cabin was divorcing, but things seemed to be going well until they got into a dispute over a painting. When she moved out she took it with her, and he wanted it back.

He said he wouldn't sign the closing papers unless she gave him the painting. She said she wouldn't hand over the painting unless he had signed the closing papers.

Neither trusted the other to carry through if one of them acted first.

We finally resolved the issue by placing the painting in trust with the attorney whose office was handling the closing.

I never saw the painting, but the agents who did see it said they wondered why anyone wanted it!

Could we have done something to avoid this? I doubt it. Divorcing couples who are determined to do battle will find a reason.

Comments (19)

Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Marte Cliff - A million thanks for this wonderful post and for participating in the March to a Solution|ActiveRain March 2023 Challenge. As soon as I read "Hippie Cabin," I thought to myself HIPPIE DIPPIE! I just knew this was going to be a good read!

I read your post with eager eyes. You left me in suspense. Then, I was surprised by how it ended and laughed about what the agents who did see it, had to say about the painting. Some of things people argue about in a Divorce is absolutely crazy. Leaving the painting with the Attorney in a trust was the perfect solution!

Thank you! Marte, this was a great entry and the perfect short story too! 

Mar 16, 2023 04:54 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Patricia. We had a lot of strange things happen, but few that would make a story with an ending.

Mar 16, 2023 05:09 PM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Woo wee, these are the sorts of situations that are never fun to be a part of. So much emotion.

Mar 16, 2023 06:07 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Dr. Paula McDonald - Yes, plenty of drama for those who love drama.

Mar 16, 2023 06:41 PM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

Your story reminds me of a painting my mother owned and loved. I never met anyone other than my mom who liked it. She passed on before my stepfather and he kept it because he knew how my mother loved it. When he died absolutely no one wanted it, I have no clue where it ended up.

Mar 16, 2023 06:44 PM
Marte Cliff

Bob "RealMan" Timm - it must have had some special meaning for your Mom. Perhaps it had to do with the identity of the painter. Nice that your stepfather kept it in her honor.

The complete opposite of my former neighbor... who got rid of everything his wife loved just as soon as she was gone.

Mar 16, 2023 07:58 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

OMG Marte Cliff ,

You are so right! Divorcing couples who are determined to do battle will find a reason and it doesn't matter what the reason!

Mar 16, 2023 07:04 PM
Marte Cliff

Dorie Dillard Austin TX If not for the painting, I think they would have found something else.

Mar 16, 2023 07:59 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Marte- thankfully when I was providing staging consultations, I ran into only a handful of divorcing sellers. What a tricky situation you were in!!!!  Having the painting held trust (or held hostage) was a good solution. 

Mar 16, 2023 07:18 PM
Marte Cliff

Yes, Kathy Streib - thank goodness they knew and trusted the attorney!

Mar 16, 2023 08:00 PM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Funny story, but kind of typical of how things can get off track over a minor detail.

Mar 16, 2023 09:40 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089 - Minor to us, but a good excuse to do battle to them! They each wanted to be the one in control of the situation.

Mar 16, 2023 09:43 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Divorcing couples can be a challenge and clearly your post proves this point, I had a couple in my lifetime and would not want to have a repeat of the events, Endre

Mar 16, 2023 10:15 PM
Marte Cliff

The ones I liked even less were the ones who didn't decide on a divorce until they were a week away from closing on a purchase. I had two in one summer - the deals died at the very last minute.

Mar 17, 2023 09:00 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Divorcing couples can definitely throw a monkey wrench in the works. I'm glad they agreed to keep the painting in trusted hands.

Mar 17, 2023 04:43 AM
Marte Cliff

Kat Palmiotti Yes, and the people buying that cabin were glad too!

Mar 17, 2023 09:01 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Marte... thankfully not a situation I've had to deal with despite numerous transactions with divorcing couples. The solution was perfect... and thankfully a pet didn't have to be put in trust with the attorney.

Mar 17, 2023 05:41 AM
Marte Cliff

Nina Hollander, Broker I hadn't thought of that, but yes, thank goodness!

Mar 17, 2023 09:02 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Marte - real estate can certainly present challenges.  Adding divorce to the transaction can complicate things.  It's not over until it's over comes to mind in the example you share in this post.   

Mar 17, 2023 06:37 AM
Marte Cliff

Michael Jacobs So true! Things can and do happen right up until the last signature dries.

Mar 17, 2023 09:03 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, it is amazing what two people can fight over if they put their minds to it!  

Mar 17, 2023 06:52 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Joan Cox So true - those who are determined to do battle will find a reason.

Mar 17, 2023 09:04 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:



Enjoyed your blog page, and I added you as a friend. I would love the follow back. Bill

Mar 17, 2023 01:19 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Bill Salvatore - East Valley You need something new to say - you tell me this every time you leave a comment. And I've been following you in return for months...

Mar 17, 2023 03:47 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

That was a great solution, Marte Cliff 

Let someone hold the painting, and when the deed is done, (pun) then they can pick it up.

Back in my paralegal days, one client, who was an attorney, spent $100,000 and about 6 months fighting over one kitchen bowl. It was a regular bowl, nothing special. It was not about the bowl. It was about power and control.  

Mar 26, 2023 05:06 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist -It was lucky that our attorney had never represented either of them, so they could both see him as neutral. (That's sometimes a problem in a town this small.)

Isn't it amazing how goofy people can be?

Did the attorney win the bowl - and the power and control - for his hundred thousand?

Mar 26, 2023 05:17 PM