Original article by Charity Malmberg originally published in the January 2020 issue of Top Producer Magazine
Today, more than ever, understanding how to serve clients who have been recently divorced or are getting a divorce is very important. Around 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and there are nearly 2,400 divorces per day, so if you haven’t run across it yet, you probably will soon.
Is A Divorce Decree Really The Only Way?
Unfortunately, many divorce attorneys are still only drafting a divorce decree that spills all the hidden secrets of the marriage dissolution, such as alimony, child support, childrens’ names and dates of birth, credit cards and debts owed. All of this private and personal information is out there on a document now and used for real estate transactions. Instead, having a summary of real estate disposition drafted could be the better option for keeping your clients’ personal information private when it comes time for them to sell their property.
So, What Is A Summary Of Real Estate Disposition Judgement?
A summary of real estate disposition judgement (SREDJ) includes the different ‘parcels’ of property, along with who is awarded which portions of the property. It also includes liens, mortgages, encumbrances or other interests attached to a property and who is responsible. While the disposition includes these elements, it does not list a lot of other personal and private information unnecessary to the transaction.
Here are a few tips on how to smoothly navigate the personal topics:
- Introduce your intentions for the conversation.
Remind your clients that as their real estate professional, it’s your job to help your clients and ensure the safety of their personal information, and part of that is asking some personal questions.
- Gently ask.
Simply ask your clients if a divorce has happened or is in the works. Do not beat around the bush or use confusing language.
Hopefully at this point you already have their trust and they’ve told you their future plans for their property. If this is the first time you’re hearing that a divorce is in the works, be ready to listen without judgment and respond only when your clients are finished speaking.
- Explain the SREDJ process.
If your clients are indeed in the process of getting a divorce or will soon be divorcing, let them know that you are here to help them in this process. Explain they may want to have an attorney draft a summary of real estate disposition as a more private way to ensure all property/liens/mortgages go to the right people. Also explain that the SREDJ needs to be drafted by the time closing takes place and needs to have either a Judge or Court Admin sign off on it. Let them know this may take weeks to complete.
We Are In This Together
Remember to work with a trusted title company, one that will be in this process with you. You need to ensure free and clear title to the property for the new buyer, and with a divorce, you’ll need to either have the divorce decree or the SREDJ on hand to do so. Though these conversations may be awkward in the moment, it can save your clients time and heartache down the road and will help ensure a smooth transaction between buyer and seller.
Charity Malmberg, responsible for the creation of Trademark Title Services Inc., currently serves as president. She has over 15 years of title industry experience as a closer, manager and business owner. Prior to her experience in title, she was a licensed real estate salesperson. She has maintained her license not to sell, but to keep her knowledgeable and informed on the industry topics that affect her business clients. Membership of the ALTA, MLTA, MMA and REALTOR associations has allowed her to educate her staff, clients and consumers – a number one priority for Charity and Trademark Title Services Inc.