Can't We All Just Get Along



I do a goodly amount of work for family law attorneys (appraisal and sales) and with some degree of frequency have served as a mutually agreeable neutral Realtor (Commissioner) to sell the marital residence when it is required by the particulars of the case.  I have tried to market myself to the family law bar and mediators as the ideal candidate for that purpose.  What I have observed is that you, the family law attorney, do not involve yourself in that process.  You strike the deal, but do nothing to make sure that it happens timely, if at all, or whether what should be getting done to effect the agreed to or desired result is actually being done, being done forth rightly, or competently.  Worse, you don’t even know if it can be done before you blindly decree it to be done.  You also pretend one of two things, either Realtors have no skills that differentiate themselves from each other, and thusly all realtors are the same and clearly anyone can do it.  Or you attribute skills to them that you or the courts barely even have yourselves…like dealing with divorce dynamics from one or both parties and client control.  Many don’t even know there own industry let alone yours.  And if there are other issues like foreclosure, deferred maintenance, repairs, etc what chance does a fluffy wuffy realtor have,  who is just a salesman, of accomplishing what your client or the process needs done.


This link is a perfect example of where I think I could help you and your clients out. XXX.  This is a redacted CCS of a case where clearly the parties are engaged in what I refer to a full blown divorce dynamics.  It has all the bells and whistles.  It has a 4+ year history.  There is clearly one party, or the other, at any given moment, who is resisting that which must be done regarding the marital residence and will inexorably be done and to the extent that it is not getting done, one, and frequently both parties, are being materially damaged.  The damage takes many forms. Payments not being made timely or at all, resulting in disappearance of equity and or trashed credit ratings, and or foreclosure, or all three. Many divorces get to your office because of long festering issues regarding money. It should not shock you that there just might, might i say be some deferred maintenance.  In the last appraisal I did there were hydrostatic issues in the basement.  The other appraiser gave them cursory mention, totally diminished there scope and said it could be addressed for a couple of hundred bucks.  How does $15,000.00 sonnd to you!


 In the last case in which I was appointed commissioner…similar to, but not the linked case above, the divorce had been going on for 3 years plus.  She was supposed to list the home and sell it.  No parameters, no checking, no monitoring of showings and feedback…just get it done.  After many hearings about just getting it listed, she listed it with a “friend” from one of the big firms for about $60,000 above fair market value, or about 15% more than it was worth.  She declined about ½ the showing requests, unbeknownst to the other spouse, attorneys, and the court.  Shockingly it never sold.  She got to stay, husband was paying and then stopped, and finally it is ready to go into foreclosure.  It had a small repair that blossomed into a huge repair.


Part of the problem is that you the bar, you the judge, and you the mediators think that anybody can sell a house.  Part of it is that there is never any, and I mean any, monitoring of whether it is being done in good faith.  Part of it is that the Realtor, even if not a sympathetic friend, cannot navigate, deal with, handle full blown divorce dynamics.  As the court appointed Commissioner,  I was able to go in with the full authority of the court and get it done.  I entered my appearance on the foreclosure and resolved it.  I successfully and professionally and navigated the divorce dynamics on both sides. I never start with pounding the table and flouting my powers.  I was able to quietly explain what my powers were, communicate expectations, and maintain cooperation and dignity.  Remember divorce dynamics just don’t disappear because someone has a court order to sell the home, right?


The wife was in possession.  I had to deal with her fears.  I also gave her a copy of my commissioner’s order and explained to her my powers.  I also explained that I would not exercise them immediately but with non compliance to my directives or interference, passive or affirmative, with the selling process, that I would exercise my commissioner powers forthwith.   Then there was the pending foreclosure which I addressed in my capacity as an attorney. . Then there was the repair versus value versus net proceeds versus the impending foreclosure all nestled in with an insurance claim that came up because the buyer’s inspector left the tub running in the master bedroom upstairs because his prospective buyers summoned him down to the basement to answer some other question.  That was legal work.  Then there was getting her out of the home timely to comply with the agreement struck without the need for physically throwing her out.  I closed it, disbursed the money, and filed the Commissioner’s Report.  The point is that as an appraiser I know value.  As a Realtor, I know marketing.  And as an attorney, I know the law, and as commissioner, I AM the law.  If you want it done to the best interests of justice, to your clients, to yourself, to the court , call me earlier than 3 years into the process. 


We all know what our clients do not, which is that resolution of all dissolution matters by judicial decree or agreed decree is the first opportunity for them to get on with their lives in the their inevitable New World order of "divorced" and which they desperately need to do.


In the other tabs on the left I break down other issues which are almost always part and parcel of every divorceTake a look, learn something useful for your practice.