There are a lot of ways to approach real estate divorce leads the wrong way. And that’s the last thing you want to do as an agent.
Splitting assets during a divorce can result in long negotiations, sleepless nights, and uncertainty about the future. That’s why coming across as predatory or opportunistic is distasteful (and will always hurt your brand in the long run).
Plus, as a real estate agent, you have a lot to offer those going through the sale of their primary residence.
That’s why Wendy Waselle, the co-founder of Divorce This House, offers a blueprint (and designation) for tapping into this overflowing pool of real estate divorce leads the right way. Her system teaches how to work with divorce attorneys to get referrals. This proven lead generation idea is effective for both new and more experienced agents. Check out Wendy’s top tips below for this lucrative niche.
6 Tips to Get Started With Divorce Real Estate Leads
1. Learn to Work With Divorce Attorneys the Right Way
First things first, there is a lot to learn about the divorce process before you can position yourself as the go-to agent for divorcing couples. Consider getting an education with Divorce This House, where you can actually earn their exclusive designation, RCS-D, which will help you stand out with divorce attorneys.
“The average divorce lawyer has 20 to 50 ongoing clients per month,” Wendy says. “35 to 50% of them own real estate, some own multiple properties.” That’s a heavy lift for any attorney. If you position yourself as the agent who understands the process, the potential pitfalls, and how you can help, attorneys will contact you again and again.
Agents skilled in divorce real estate can provide divorce attorneys insight around preserving homeownership eligibility for their clients. Time-strapped lawyers, working with dozens of clients at a time, will appreciate how agents can alleviate some of the burden in these situations by moderating this point with their clients.
With the right training and positioning, as you get with the RCS-D designation, agents can approach divorce attorneys with the confidence that they are worthy of their referrals.
Get Your RCS-D Designation at Divorce This House
Divorce This House offers education and a designation that’s backed and provided by a Harvard-educated law professor who has a special interest in housing and financial well-being. Other attorneys will recognize and respect your law-centric education. “My company definitely provides education to position you at the beginning of the divorce,” Wendy promises.
Prof. Kelly Murray, J.D. is the co-founder and primary instructor at Divorce This House. She hails from Stanford University and Harvard Law School. The RCS-D designation course she created with co-founder Wendy Waselle includes nine hours of instruction from Prof. Murray, which covers working with family lawyers, mediators, and financial professionals on how to prevent financial and legal mistakes that ruin families, finances, and futures.
2. Show the Reality of Keeping the Home vs the Dream
You can become a resource to any divorce attorney by showing the reality of staying in the home vs maintaining homeownership eligibility for their clients.
Most people who want to stay in the marital home have an unrealistic idea of what that looks like. For example, all of the household responsibilities will fall on that one spouse who stays in the home, including maintenance and mortgage payments. As an agent who specializes in these scenarios, you can illustrate the realities.
The initial goal in a divorce is preventing the home from becoming a court-appointed listing. “Most lawyers agree with me that a court-appointed listing is a failure of the system,” Wendy says. “We let the house become a weapon. We don’t need to do that if we get everybody trained and working together upfront.”
Wendy points out that most who are able to refinance and stay in the marital home end up selling after a few years. The dream doesn’t match the reality and they discover that maintaining the home solo is more than they can handle. If you can successfully paint that picture for these clients and avoid emotionally charged decisions down the road, you’ll become indispensable to attorneys.
3. It All Begins With the Relationship–Start a Conversation With an Attorney
Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Start with a conversation with just one divorce attorney–maybe one who hasn’t been in business for as long as others. Listen carefully to learn how you can become an asset and provide value. When you become the real estate agent who can make an attorney’s job easier, she will be more than happy to send you business.
You can say to the attorney, “I specialize in divorce real estate. And my goal for every client is to help them preserve homeownership eligibility,” explains Wendy. “You’re not saying, ‘my goal is to sell every one of your client’s houses,’ that’s self-serving,” she says.
Your “why” for getting into this type of business will be important to the attorneys you talk to. If you can create a relatable story around your motivation, people will be more likely to connect with and willing to work with you.
That doesn’t mean you have to go through a divorce personally to understand. I’m sure you know someone who has gone through a messy divorce. Use any experience you have to create your “why” story.
The goal is to build a relationship with the attorney. When she needs a Realtor in the future, you want to be the one she remembers. Relationships are built on trust, so give her something to build trust on.
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4. Partner With Your Lender Allies
Your goal is to connect with divorce attorneys and show how you can benefit them and their clients. One of the best ways to do that is to eliminate future issues with the home sale. According to Wendy, bringing in a lender at the front end of divorce mediation will help settle things faster.
In a divorce, one party typically wants to keep and stay in the house. Introducing a mortgage lender to show that person the black-and-white reality of trying to stay in the home will avoid headaches months down the line.
The key to winning over real estate divorce leads is in the beginning stages of divorce. “If you have 20% rational thinking and 80% emotional, the rational thinking takes place at the very beginning of the divorce,” says Wendy.
Once the person sees the numbers and realizes they won’t be able to stay in the house comfortably and refinancing would be more difficult than they realized, they usually get onboard with the resale of the home. “The horizon market is when it dawns on the client that they need your services,” she says.
If you’re the agent who can help smooth the real estate hurdles early on in the divorce process, divorce attorneys will see you as an asset and continue reaching out to you for future transactions.
5. Don’t Promise to Sell the Home
Any agent can come in and promise to sell the home. I’m sure many of us have done that at some point in our careers as real estate professionals. But attorneys aren’t impressed with our sales, accolades, ranking, or how much money we’ve made for our clients.
“The first thing is you figure out how you can fill a need in the divorce process. And then you will be a very busy agent,” says Wendy.
As a divorce specialist, it’s your job to “preserve homeownership eligibility,” according to Wendy. Many times that means selling, but not always.
Go back to the mortgage lender. Sit down with your client who wants to keep the house and go through the numbers. Don’t tell them they need to sell their home. Let them come to that conclusion on their own. Your responsibility is to guide them through the process.
Once they see how difficult it will be to refinance, including buying out their soon-to-be-former partner, you can show them some other options for a fresh start in a new home. But if they qualify for a refinance, rejoice in their victory.
It’s also a great idea to maintain a relationship with those who do refinance and keep their homes. They become a secondary source of real estate divorce leads when they decide to sell after a few years. Wendy points out that many who end up refinancing the marital home end up moving within three years.
Pro Tip: If you enjoy working with senior real estate leads, this may be a great time to meld divorce into the mix. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest numbers, men and women between ages 55-64 are seeking divorce in greater numbers.
6. Competition Is Not the Enemy
Don’t worry about how many Realtors are already working with attorneys to work with divorce leads. There are far more leads than most agents can handle. Honestly, attorneys probably need more agents who are willing to work with these couples.
Divorce is hard. Attorneys and their clients need someone who can be impartial, kind, patient, and an ambassador between the parties. When you think about it, there probably aren’t nearly enough real estate professionals who fit that criteria who are willing to do this kind of work. So, don’t stress the competition. Divorces are filed daily, and the opportunities to work with people who really need your help are plentiful.
📌 Pro Tip
Don’t try to work with several attorneys–you only need one or two. In fact, start with one attorney. Build a solid relationship with that attorney and ask for just one of her clients as a test. When you do a great job for that attorney, she will refer you to another attorney.
Divorce leads can be messy, but also very rewarding to work with. Do you work with divorce real estate leads? Share some of your best advice or experiences in the comments. I can’t wait to read them.