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Two Successful Divorce Agents Share Their Secrets to Success

By Authorify // 11 Jun 2020

Divorcing homeowners offer a unique opportunity to the right agent willing to put in the work to list them. 

A divorce agent needs to be compassionate enough to help his or her clients through a difficult situation and impartial enough not to favor either party over the other.

If you can successfully sell the original home, these listings can also lead to multiple other deals. And if you handle them correctly, you can establish yourself as the go-to agent for divorcing couples in your area. 

We recently spoke with two different Authorify members who have used their books to establish themselves as experts in the divorce niche. 

Ed Hru

Ed Hru has been in the real estate business for 50 years — he says he started “June 15th, 1970 at 1:00.”

In the time that he’s been an agent, the business has changed dramatically.

“I'm one of those proponents of ‘follow the cheese.’ And so we've changed over the years.”

While he didn’t initially plan to pursue divorce listings, Ed stumbled into the niche when an agent in his brokerage showed an interest in pursuing them. After they decided to partner on the venture, they came across the former Smart Agents MyBooks program, now offered through Authorify.

“So she and I got together and did it as a team, and so both of our pictures are on the book,” Ed says. “And the thing about the book is it just is an absolute easy opener. You can take the book and hand it to somebody and it's non-offensive, not anything bad. And now you have an opening to talk to people about what they need to be doing.”

Ed takes two different approaches to reach and establish a connection with divorcing homeowners. 

1. He finds divorcing couples through the county clerk in his area. 

“Everything is registered in our surrounding counties, and so we didn't sign up for anything special,” Ed says. “All we did is make contact with the county and took their information and went from there.”

“We went to the county and just said, is this automated? Can we pick it up by the internet? Can we do this? Can we do that? When we finally got all of our answers, we realized what work we did or didn't have to do personally and physically.”

After he secures his list of divorce leads from the county, Ed searches each person to determine whether they own property. 

“You don't want to be sending the book to an apartment.”

2. He forms partnerships with local family law attorneys who handle divorces. 

“The other thing we did — and this is probably equally important — a certain percentage of the books ended up in the hands of attorneys who handle divorces. And so that helped, as well.

But partnering with the attorneys took patience and persistence. 

“Attorneys are attorneys, and they have their own thoughts on things and they just didn't want us interfering with their people,” Ed says. “And when they finally read the book, they realized that it wasn't a case of interference. We were just an adjunct to everything they were doing.”

While Ed was able to successfully connect with attorneys in his area, gaining their trust wasn’t immediate. He made an effort to continually reach out and follow up after he’d given out his books. 

“When they saw that we were persistent, we were serious about taking care of all the people, then they started opening up to us.

“This is a touchy niche, so having that — showing that you do care — I think is really important in that. Everybody's emotions are at a high, and so every word you say, every action you take, has to satisfy both people. They're at odds usually with each other. Even when it's a friendly divorce, it's not friendly.”

When Ed and his partner were attempting to form relationships with attorneys, they always went in person to the attorneys’ offices to drop off their books. 

“So they would see us physically — they would know who we were,” Ed says. 

“We'd give them some background  — our bios were there. So it was seeing them and then seeing them again and then emailing them and then seeing them again and it's very much like real estate — about the eighth time, maybe the 10th — they started breaking down and they say, ‘Well, what about this? Oh, I've got an odd one for ya that my normal realtors won't handle.’ And when that happened, we knew we were in.

Out of the 100 books they handed out, Ed was able to secure 10 initial divorce listings, plus secure both couples’ business when they were purchasing another property. 

“We went on to sell either both or one or the other a new home, as well,” Ed says. 


A Specialized Approach

Ed says it’s important to take a delicate approach with the divorcing couples and their attorney. 

“You have to figure out what it is they really want to be hearing and as long as it's within the parameters of what you're supposed to be doing, you're fine and talking about it. … It was just our job to be helpful and get them the most money we could for the home.”

He says it’s a balancing act to keep both parties happy, especially if one person is more eager to sell the home than the other. 

“Keeping them in the loop the entire time on both sides, and if you want to know another interesting one, it's when one of them wants to keep the home and you're working with them and now the one wants it to be showing very low and the other one wants it as high as possible. So it's all a balancing act.

“You have to be willing to sit there and listen to them and make some judgments from that — what is it that they're trying to accomplish?

“It's really like all real estate sales because you have the husband and the wife and of course, the wife wins. But in divorced situations, that's not always the case. And it's at a new level. It's not the same old, same old. You have to be really listening to what's being said, and you gotta be listening to what the attorney wants.”

Ed has worked with couples using the same attorney and also couples using two separate attorneys. 

“So you have to be able to explain yourself, why are you doing or thinking what you're doing or thinking?”

Above all, Ed says, being transparent is key in the divorce niche. 

“The biggest thing is trust. It just has to be that they both trust you to do what's best for the both of them.”

While many agents shy away from working in the divorce market, that’s exactly why Ed finds it so appealing. 

“Not everybody does it. Everybody talks about doing REO, everybody talks about doing divorce work, talks about doing probate. Once you buy these books and you have an investment, you will be doing it. 

“And that's a good part about getting the books. It kind of forces you into a situation where you say, ‘Oh my, you know, I can't let those sit in the box. I have to get them out. And once you get them out, there's other business to be had.

“If they sit in a box, they're not going to do a thing for you. Not a thing.”

Rozalyn Franklin

Rozalyn Franklin spent 30 years working for AT&T before she made the leap to a real estate career. 

“It was in the midst of the — during the downturn in the market. So short sales were needed,” Rozalyn says. “So I did close hundreds of short sales in South Carolina and saved lots of people from foreclosure.” 

While she was working with short sales, Rozalyn realized a lot of the people she was helping were actually divorcing couples. 

“So that's when I started going into the divorce because I wanted to approach those people differently than I approach the short sale.”

Like Ed, Rozalyn partners with divorce attorneys. But she also goes a step further and partners with financial analysts. 

“Some people go to them first before they hit the attorney, especially if it's an amicable divorce and they can try to save their credit — they go to a financial analyst. So I partner with those, as well.”

Rozalyn has established herself as the go-to divorce agent in her area. She even writes magazine pieces for local publications about selling real estate during a divorce.

“So I just put myself out there as somebody to contact before you get a divorce,” Rozalyn says. 

When she’s forming relationships with attorneys and financial analysts, Rozalyn also leaves several copies of her books behind and encourages both parties to give them to their clients. 

“I realized that there's a lot of information that they provide and give to them, and I send them articles and I send them information on how they can guide your clients. ... I'll also leave a copy of my book, leave copies of them so that they can provide them to your clients, as well. So it kind of helps with information that they may have about their house.”

About every six months, one of Rozalyn’s partner attorneys holds divorce clinics. Rozalyn provides insights during the real estate portion of the presentation. 

“So when they're doing a divorce clinic, I'm the real estate expert,” Rozalyn says. 

“They've been pretty good. My attendance has been a little bit down, but now it's a little bit hard because of the COVID-19, but hopefully we'll be able to get back in it. And I think we're going to start trying to do it on a Zoom call so that we don't all have to be sitting.”

Establishing Relationships

Rozalyn says the most important part of working with divorcing couples is trying to understand and relate to whatever phase of the divorce they’re currently in. 

“Every reaction is different,” Rozalyn says. “A lot of them are really mad, then there's airing grievances. So we go through all of these processes and it depends on what stage that person is when they come into the clinic.” 

Both parties must feel equally represented and heard in any decisions pertaining to the sale. 

“It's an art,” Rozalyn says. “So you have to be able to maneuver it because I really don't have any interests in making sure that one person gets more than the other. That's really not my thing — that's the court's thing, the attorney's thing, your financial thing. My thing is to sell a house and get them the most amount of money so that they can walk away. And so they gotta realize that's the only — that's my only objective.”

While most of her listings come directly from partnering with the attorneys and financial analysts, Rozalyn is also contacted directly by divorcing couples who see her published magazine articles and the information she shares on her Facebook page. 

“They'll call me and say, ‘I'm getting a divorce and I need to sell my house,’” Rozalyn says. “Then I can refer them to the attorney or the financial person that they need to talk to. And I go from there.”

But of course, divorcing couples don’t always agree on the decision to hire her. 

“And then I have to refer them back to the attorney and tell him, ‘Look, you know, you need to talk to your attorney and tell him that you want to do that because sometimes it's easier when stuff's on paper, then you know, who's responsible for what? It takes some of the emotional turmoil out of it because now it's written down on a piece of paper. So some of those I have to refer back.”

Rozalyn makes sure to leave all legal advice to the attorneys and focuses solely on selling the home. That’s why it’s crucial for her to form positive relationships with the attorneys so she can reach out to them when potential legal issues arise. 

“So it just makes it a little bit easier because a lot of times it's a thin line about what I'm telling them — what's legal, real estate and what I cannot say. So it works out pretty good.” 

Specialized Divorce Training

Before she got involved in the divorce niche, Rozalyn took a course on selling divorce homes. 

“I went to Laura Starks. I took Laura Stark's course in divorce real estate,” Rozalyn says. “But if you're going to start into the divorce sector and you want to target divorce people, you gotta partner with attorneys, you gotta partner with other divorce specialists.”

Rozalyn says agents interested in the divorce niche must understand the process of selling a divorce home is different than listing a traditional home.  

“You can't attack it the same way,” she says. “So the more you educate yourself on how to handle those clients, the better that you will be with them. So just do all your homework, partner with the right people, and get the book. The book is great because it's an icebreaker and it's a learning tool for you, too. So you can read it yourself and figure out what needs to be done when you deal with them.”

Rozalyn also aims to simplify the process for any attorneys she partners with. 

“Being able to show them what they need to do with the house and how much it's actually worth takes a weight off the attorney’s shoulders.”

The books have been instrumental in helping Rozalyn establish connections with divorce professionals and the actual couples she works with. 

“I love the books,” she says. “I mean, my buyers, when they call me on the listing and they're interested in buying a house, it's a great segue for me to get more information. Like, ‘Can I get your address? Cause I’d love to send you a free buyer's guide and I can get the address that way. And it just makes it so much easier.”

As someone who likes to be thoroughly informed before she pursues a venture, Rozalyn has used her books as a learning tool in the divorce market. 

“I'm a resource kind of person — I like to search and know stuff before I start doing things. So for me personally, it helps a lot because it shows knowledge and it shows that I'm the lead agent to go to.”

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