I’m no psychologist, but sometimes I feel like I need to be when it comes to couples and their property plans.
The number of times I’ve sat across a dining table where a husband and wife have been going at it regarding their decisions about a property, or a number of properties is countless.
Sure, I secretly enjoy it because I kinda feel as though they must trust me enough to be comfortable arguing in front of me.
But the truth is, if you’re a couple fighting over a property or a set of property plans you’re in the process of making, you’re certainly not the first. And you won’t ever be the last!
Now when I refer to fighting, I’m not really taking the word literally. Debating is more like it – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, I remind couples I work with that this is completely NORMAL!
In my many years as an Independent Brisbane Buyer’s Agent, I have found that two people in a relationship rarely see eye to eye when it comes to property. As with most things in life, it’s all about compromise and working together to achieve a common plan or goal that ultimately ticks boxes for both parties in the partnership.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE FIGHTING TURNS REAL?
AND WORST, IT GETS UGLY?
What if a split really is on the horizon and it’s the ONLY way for a couple to move forward?
What happens to all those property plans now?
Well, I have to admit, I myself have been front and centre of this very scenario in my own life journey.
Separating from an eight year relationship just before my 30th birthday was NOT an easy time in my life, and when the property portfolio was tossed into the mix, it made things even more difficult and complicated.
Oh yeah, we fought alright.
About the house we lived in.
Who would get what.
We even fought over who would get the personalised number plates!
Everything and anything was thrown in the mix.
You know how it gets when both partners are emotionally crumbling under the reality that their marriage or partnership is coming to an end.
It ain’t pretty.
He wanted to knock our house down and develop the site with units and I wouldn’t have a bar of it.
I loved our home and wanted it for myself – untouched and just the way it was. A humble beach shack.
After what felt like years of fighting over our family home, we both came to the realisation it was best to let it go. To sell it. Plus we each had zero funds to hold onto it anyway.
For me, letting go of our home came as a real blow. I loved our house, and to this day, I still do. If only I could have kept it. But that wasn’t to be.
FOR THOSE ABOUT TO FACE THIS SAD SCENARIO, WHAT I CAN SAY FROM MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IS THIS…
You just need to reach a point of acceptance.
You need to accept the split, and move on. Unfortunately, that’s the harsh reality I had to face, and it’s one that any person going through this yucky time has to come to terms with.
Don’t tie things up (including property assets) for years like we did.
Looking back, I wish I’d ripped the band-aid off quicker.
In hindsight it’s simple, but at the time, the pain was all too real and holding on to the house for dear life seemed like the only option for me.
Plus I wanted to win. I wanted what I wanted and I was terrified of letting go.
So getting to the point of why I’m writing this article, my advice to anyone who is about to separate and has a portfolio of properties together (or even just the one), is to do your best to reach an amicable point in the relationship where you can both decide on who gets what, and what gets sold, as soon as you practically can.
Can’t be amicable? Well, you might need to call in a mediator, or (worse yet) a lawyer.
I don’t like lawyers because they cost too much and want to fight to the death of the other side.
This ISN’T how you get the best result from a shitty situation. Neither of you will win, so if you can avoid the lawyer road at this point, my advice is to do so at all costs.
We never had lawyers involved in deciding the finer details of our separation, but you will need them to formally finalise what you agree on.
Save yourself the months of ongoing pain and if you need to take a financial hit on a property, then just accept the reality and move on. Sure, this is easier said than done.
Others have been there and you WILL bounce back in time.
The cost of holding on will probably be more taxing on you in the long run. Financially and emotionally.
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, IF YOU’RE SAVVY ENOUGH, YOU CAN START AGAIN. YES - YOU CAN.
I know those words sound like fingernails down a chalk board, but you HAVE to face the reality that sometimes, things just don’t go as you’d planned.
This is called life, my friend.
SO IN SHORT, HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IF YOU’RE SPLITTING FROM YOUR EX AND PROPERTY IS IN THE MIX.
- Let it go. The sooner you make the plans to work out who gets what property, the better. And if you have to sell, then just bite the bullet and call a trusted real estate agent – one who has enough emotional intelligence to help you through not only the sale, but the emotional rollercoaster of it all.
- Don’t hold out for an unrealistic sale price. The properties are worth what they’re worth. Just because you’re emotional and need to get as much money as you can to lessen the financial burden of splitting your finances doesn’t mean buyers will pay overs. The sooner you agree on a sale, the sooner you can both move on.
- Secure a rental property for yourself for 12 months in a place that feels comfortable and safe. This will give you time to sort everything out and provide some stability whilst you’re in-between homes.
- Get a mediator if you have to – just do what you both need to do to move the process forward.
- You will need a lawyer at some point to finalise the split so get in touch with someone you can trust. If you can’t reach decisions on your own, you may need to appoint a lawyer sooner, but avoid it if you can because you’ll drown in legal fees, as will your ex.
- Talk to your accountant and a financial advisor so you can get some unbiased, rational and sensible advice about how you can best move forward as a single.
- Be the bigger person in the split. If your ex is carrying on like a pork chop, don’t follow suit. When the dust settles and you move onto new beginnings, you’ll be proud of yourself that you didn’t stoop to those low levels. It’s not who you are, so don’t go there. Be fair. Be reasonable. And most of all, put yourself first for once.
- When the properties are sold and the separation is finalised, give yourself a break. Take a holiday and some much needed time out. You’ll be emotionally exhausted from it all so now is the time to give back to yourself with some self-love and nurturing. Don’t skip this step! It’s a mental must in order for you to be able to move forward in a healthy way.
- Learn to come to terms with starting over. I get that you never thought you’d be in this position, but know you’re not the only one going through it. Others have been there AND managed to thrive in the aftermath. Remember, life is LONG. This is just one chapter that is now closed. New beginnings are ahead of you. Look forward, not backward and try not to dwell too much in the pain of it all. The goal should be getting yourself to a mentally strong mindset so you can implement and action a NEW plan for your new life. If you have to seek counselling, do it. I did, and it really helped.
All in all, it took me 5 years to turn it all around following my split.