Purchasing a home after a divorce can be an overwhelming process. Adding stress to the process, this is often the first time a person has bought a home by themselves. Struggling with this process after her own divorce, Diane McDermott has focused her Real Estate business on being a resource and a guide for women during the home buying process. Diane has also authored an ebook for women homebuyers: The Badass Chick’s Guide to Home Buying.
Key insights from the episode:[6:39] – How to know if buying a home during divorce is the right decision for you (financially and emotionally) [9:08] – Mistakes to avoid during divorce if you want to buy a house [11:12] – Things to think about when considering if a particular house is right for your family [14:05] – Should you rent or purchase? [19:42] – The importance of having your real estate and mortgage team in place before you begin house hunting [26:06] – Common mistakes to avoid when trying to buy a home without a real estate agent
The insights and views presented in “Welcome to Splitsville” are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Nor does tuning in to this podcast constitute an attorney-client relationship of any kind. If you’re ready for compassionate and reliable legal guidance on your journey through divorce, contact Leigh Sellers and her team (NC & SC) at http://www.TouchstoneFamilyLaw.com
Announcer: [00:01] Hello there. Going through a divorce? Considering one? Sorry to hear that, but here you are. Welcome to Splitsville. You’ll find Splitsville to be a pretty unique place, a new world really, with its own rules, its own expectations, and, in many ways, its own language. But don’t worry. You have a knowledgeable guide along the way, a family law attorney with three decades of experience under her belt. Now here she is, your host and guide, Leigh Sellers.
Leigh Sellers: [00:35] Hi, everyone, and thanks for tuning in to another episode of Welcome to Splitsville. I’m your host and guide, Leigh Sellers, Founder of Touchstone Family Law. In this episode, I’ll be answering another question that many newcomers to Splitsville have: where will I live? Let’s dive in.
Leigh Sellers: [00:59] Today we have Diane McDermott of McDermott Real Estate, who is with us today to help answer that question. Diane, that is so critical to people that come into my office and are facing separation, divorce, know that it’s coming, and are concerned about the home that they’re currently living in. If they don’t get to stay there, where are they going to go? It’s so stressful for people who are divorcing and separating.
Diane McDermott: [01:31] The home is such a foundational aspect of our lives. When the foundation that you were familiar with looks like it is going to change, even if you remain in the home, it’s going to look different once you’ve gone through and come out the other side of divorce. The question, “Where will I live? What will that look like? What will that feel like?” it’s an emotionally charged question, I think.
Leigh Sellers: [01:56] It is. Well, tell our listeners a little bit about you and your real estate practice, because it’s unique in my experience.
Diane McDermott: [02:04] Thank you. I’ve been in real estate for about 14 years now. I explain that I am myself joyfully divorced. I recently have gone through and now come beyond that process myself. I got into real estate. It took me a little while to really own the fact that I am most passionate about and enjoy most working with home buyers rather than sellers. The home buying process to me is a very relationship process, which is a better fit with my personality. I enjoy getting to know people, getting to know what’s important to them, and really being a resource and a guide for my clients.
Diane McDermott: [02:42] About a year ago, I ended up, after I divorced my husband, I divorced my previous real estate affiliation and started my own firm. Now I get to really align everything in my life with my core values of honesty, integrity, passion, joy. I’m really deeply passionate about communicating with and empowering women who are divorcing or who are divorced throughout the home buying process when that timing is right for them.
Leigh Sellers: [03:10] It’s so wonderful to hear you say that about going through this transition with … Because before you were married and during your marriage, you were a homeowner and you were already a realtor. But really through that whole process of divorce and separation, you took that opportunity and everything that you learned from it to really reconstruct not just that one aspect of your life, but your entire life.
Diane McDermott: [03:35] That’s absolutely true. Honestly, I can sit here now and look back at the past few years of my life, and I know that literally everything in my life today looks and feels different than it ever did before. I say that in the absolute best way possible. There is more joy in my life today than I ever could have imagined three years ago.
Leigh Sellers: [03:58] Well, I’m so glad that you could give that testimony, for lack of a better word, because I know that when I am counseling people who are in the midst of the destruction and the impending doom that seems to be staring them in the face when a marriage is falling apart and coming to an end, it is virtually impossible without sounding like you’re just giving people platitudes, to tell them that this could, if approached correctly, be a very positive result at the end. But it’s so hard to see that in the beginning and when you’re in the midst of it. Don’t you agree?
Diane McDermott: [04:34] I absolutely agree. When you’re in the middle of the darkness and the chaos and the turmoil, and it doesn’t sink in that there might be a light that’s brighter than you could really imagine today. That’s why I am so passionate about owning the fact that I am divorced. I know how brutal the process is. As much as there are, there’s opportunities for the growth and the wisdom and really redefining your life in every way. It’s not an easy path to walk. I am just so passionate about shining the light and saying, “There really are opportunities that’ll be unique to you and your journey,” but there is tremendous wisdom. I am much more confident, I am much more aware of myself than ever before in my life, and that is beautiful to me.
Leigh Sellers: [05:19] Well, and having that home base is such an important step for someone who is leaving one existing home that they’ve had for some time. Walk us through a little bit when you’re working with a client, what are the things that you’re seeking to learn about them or make sure that they’re thinking about when they come to you? They are now in a position of needing to find a new home and they come to you. What are some of the advice and counsel that you’re going to give them?
Diane McDermott: [05:57] In a nutshell, the best way I can explain how I work with buyer clients is I assist and guide people who are transitioning from one living situation that, for some reason, is not working for them, whether they’re renting, whether they’ve sold a home, and they’re transitioning from something not working to a place they’re going to love calling home.
Diane McDermott: [06:17] I have a very holistic perspective when I’m guiding clients through that process. Part of it is maybe not what we typically think of. We think of financial readiness. That’s, of course, important but there’s also an emotional readiness factor to really keep in mind, because that’s going to, again, look different for every client and every buyer.
Leigh Sellers: [06:37] Let’s talk about that a little more in detail then. You’re talking about making sure that someone who’s already approached you about buying a home, that making sure that they’re emotionally ready to go through the process or to own a home?
Diane McDermott: [06:49] Both really because it’s a matter of is the timing right for you to buy? Does buying even makes sense for you going forward for the next three to five years? In some cases that answer may be no. When you’re in the middle of such an emotionally traumatic, for lack of a better word, time such as divorce, your emotional state is not where it would be at more calm center points in your life. The decisions that we make sometimes when we’re in the midst of such turmoil may not be the same decisions we make if we were on more stable grounding, so to speak.
Leigh Sellers: [07:24] True. What specifically should a person who is approaching this decision, what is, I guess, the checklist or the factors that they need to think about as to whether or not emotionally they’re ready to go through buying a house?
Diane McDermott: [07:42] I encourage people to really dig deeper and consider what is most important to them in a home. There’s a spectrum as far as comfort level with maintenance. There’s interior maintenance and then there’s exterior maintenance involved in homeownership. To really consider where are you as far as your comfort level and what would your ideal home living situation if you could design it, which you have that opportunity.
Diane McDermott: [08:10] If you’re newly single and divorced, you have the opportunity to really design what your ideal home situation would be. That’s not just number of bedrooms and baths, that’s where is it? What’s around it? What does it have easy access to? Are you a master plan community type of person, or do you want nothing to do with an HOA? There’s a lot of different factors to really dig deep and consider. I encourage people to go beyond the superficial and really take some time to think about what for them would their ideal home situation look like.
Leigh Sellers: [08:44] Right. Do they like to fix it up, or are they always going to be calling somebody every time something breaks?
Diane McDermott: [08:51] Right. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m fine with painting, but I don’t mess with electrical stuff. I know where my own limits are, but I don’t mind mowing my lawn. I have friends who just will not do any exterior yard work.
Leigh Sellers: [09:05] Well, if you’re not going to do it yourself, you’re going to have to pay somebody to do it.
Diane McDermott: [09:05] Exactly.
Leigh Sellers: [09:11] That probably leans a little bit into the analysis that you have to do to see if you’re financially ready.
Diane McDermott: [09:15] Yes, and especially for women going through divorce, it’s really critical to have … If you really decide that for you home buying is going to be a path where you’re going to walk, it’s really not too early to connect with a mortgage professional who is sensitive to divorce and who’s familiar with how to really set yourself up financially up for success when it comes to buying a home, because, I’m sure you’re aware, there are certain pieces even within a separation agreement that financially can impact someone’s home buying power in ways that they didn’t anticipate, that they really didn’t take the time to get some guidance on that.
Leigh Sellers: [09:53] That’s true. Then what typically does someone need to make sure that they have set aside if they’re going to buy a home? What are some expenses that they should be prepared to meet?
Diane McDermott: [10:04] Well, there’s going to be a down payment required and the percentage … I get this question a lot. People have the misperception, “I need to have 20% down to buy a home.” That is absolutely across the board not true. Can you put 20% down? Sure. Is that what’s going to be right for you? I don’t know. That’s a discussion for you to have with your mortgage planner.
Diane McDermott: [10:22] But there is as little of 3.5% down. There’s the down payment piece, there are deposits required at the time you make an offer. I shouldn’t say required. They’re not legally required. But most sellers are not going to accept an offer without an earnest money deposit and a due diligence fee. That’s additional funds that you’re going to need to have upfront.
Diane McDermott: [10:41] Also, you want to make sure you have a cushion. If you’ve financially been through a divorce, it can bring up some serious fears when it comes to finances and money. Really having a cushion over financial reserves before you get into the process of buying a home, whether your comfort zone is three months reserves, six months reserves, or a year reserves. Again, only you can answer what your comfort level is with that. But having funds set aside for a rainy day, for things that may come up with the home and home ownership.
Leigh Sellers: [11:12] Well, I haven’t bought that many homes in my own life, but I know that part of the negotiation process for my clients, often sellers and buyers, is that they will run into the inspection report.
Diane McDermott: [11:24] Yes. I love my home inspectors. Home inspection is not a list of what the seller is required to fix, it’s informational. Home inspectors are generalists. They know a little bit about a lot and they’ll typically, in a home inspection report, recommend specialists when it’s beyond their scope of expertise.
Diane McDermott: [11:43] But the home inspection isn’t meant to scare buyers. It’s really an informational tool to help you learn about the home you’re going to be buying. I don’t care if it’s new construction. No home’s perfect. These inspection reports are a laundry list of more than you ever really wanted to know about the house. They can get really scary. That’s why a lot of my conversations with clients are really, “Okay. What’s most important to you? What most alarms you on this report?” as opposed to taking it all as an emergent item and need to be addressed.
Leigh Sellers: [12:16] I know my mother instantly, when she was looking for a home, her last home, she would walk through the home and wasn’t necessary thinking about what she might need to repair. She was thinking about what she needed to do to redecorate, and so what the cost of the shutters were going to be and if she needed a new counter top or things like that. She went through her checklist, she was looking at them and was like, “Well, I’m going to have to have window coverings in addition to this,” or, “I’m not going to be able to tolerate that kitchen counter or that sink.” Talk a little bit about that as you’re going through houses with buyers.
Diane McDermott: [12:54] There are items and aspects to any home, some that are fixable and some that are not fixable. Fixable things are things that are cosmetic: paint color, décor, even countertops. Those are fixable. You can do something to change them. Those are within your control to change and adapt to your preferences.
Diane McDermott: [13:16] Things that are not fixable … And I will tell buyer clients what they may not want to hear. I’ve said you can’t choose your neighbors. You can’t move those power lines running through the backyard. You can’t change the flow of traffic on the street that’s going to impact possibly your enjoyment of the property. To some extent, you can take down some walls. To some degree, you can do that.
Diane McDermott: [13:41] But then, in other cases, things are a little more fixed where the layout’s the layout. Is this flow going to work for your family’s lifestyle? Not just today, but I also encourage people to look three to five years down the road. Real estate is not a liquid asset. It’s not an ATM machine. It is something that you need to be prepared to be in for at least three to five years, if not longer.
Leigh Sellers: [14:05] Let’s talk a little bit about something you said earlier about the choice to rent or to purchase. What are some of the things that you talk to clients about in that respect, about whether or not … Or do you take the time to really counsel them about should they rent or should they buy? What are the advantages of …
Diane McDermott: [14:24] Absolutely. If buying a home right now, just if we’ve looked at all the aspects and you’ve really taken the time to consider and you just feel like, “I’m really not 100% ready at this moment. It’s overwhelming,” or whatever reaction you’re having to it and you just decide it’s not in your best interest, some of the advantages to renting for a while, it buys you some time. It takes some of the pressure off of running up against a deadline of potentially settling for a house that really you don’t love just to get something, just to get a place to live.
Diane McDermott: [14:58] Renting, for the short term being six months or a year or something like that, can give you just a cushion to really take it at your own pace. That’s not to say that if you’re emotionally and financially ready, you can’t start looking and evaluating available homes that might be of an interest during that time, but it also takes time to get from contract to closing. A house is not a grocery story purchase. It takes 30 to 45 days at least, and that’s once we’ve made the offer and we have a contract to get to closing. Renting in the interim can just give you the luxury of not being up against a time pressure deadline and also to really go at your own pace.
Leigh Sellers: [15:39] I know that is actually such an emotional decision for my clients. If I have a client that is a homeowner, and they may own it with their spouse, but they’re still a homeowner and they’re used to being an owner, and they’re in the neighborhood and they have the network of people, they can often be extremely resistant to the idea that they don’t need to purchase right away or that they need to wait, especially if they have children. They can be incredibly resistant.
Leigh Sellers: [16:12] They have a mindset that they have to substitute one piece of owned real estate for another comparable piece of owned real estate. They’ll really be quite headstrong about, “No, I have to have a house. It has to have a yard. It has to have a garage. It has to have a pool,” or whatever that they’re giving up. They want that again. What do you see when you’re working with these buyers? What tips do you have to help them work through that really difficult emotional part of walking away from homeownership for a little while?
Diane McDermott: [16:50] I’m a recovering control freak, I will admit, and so I can certainly sympathize with the resistance piece of that. It needs to look like this and it needs to have this, this, and this in order for me to be happy. I have personally learned the power of relaxing a little bit more and going with the flow and allowing things to unfold more naturally.
Diane McDermott: [17:13] But it is an emotional component, for sure, to have one way of life, “Well, I was happy with this,” and giving a little bit of our power away to the external circumstances and think that those made us happy. Maybe happiness is more of an inside job and comes from within first. But I mean if you’re adamant that you want to own a home, that’s fine. I would just say you may be cutting yourself off from opportunities that you cannot yet see standing where you are at this moment in time.
Leigh Sellers: [17:47] Then, of course, when you are trying to sell a home, pack up everything, divide everything with another spouse, and then move into a new home, unpack everything and go through both of those transactions, the transaction of selling your home and then a separate transaction of buying your home. My clients are going through those simultaneously, and I watch in amazement every single transaction as they go through, really pushing these really complex legal transactions through, in a matter of 90 days. This is a really hot market. Talk about how this market is impacting women first-time home buyers or women that may not have owned a home separate from their spouse.
Diane McDermott: [18:41] Certainly. We are still in a very strong seller-favored market for the most part. There are some price point differences as far as the amount of buyer audience out there, but up until a certain threshold, it really is a very hot seller-favored market, which means that there are more buyers than there are available homes for those buyers.
Diane McDermott: [19:04] Really it’s challenging and I know it’s incredibly frustrating for buyers who are considering and they’re intent on … They’re going to stay in their payment comfort zone and their financial comfort zone. Then they keep coming up against a whole lot of other competition, multiple offers and losing out on … And things going for over list price in some cases. You’ve got to look at, well, have you looked at every area that’s an ideal fit for you? Can we expand the search in any way? Some buyers will get to the point where, “I’m just going to wait a little bit longer,” and that happens, too.
Diane McDermott: [19:42] As far as preparedness, it’s critical now, as it always is really, to really have all your ducks in a row, to have your … Not your prequalification, but a solid preapproval, you have a relationship with your mortgage pro that you trust, you have a trusted relationship with whatever real estate professional you’re using, to have your team in place before you even start the process so that you’re ahead of the game, and make sure that you have in place everything that you’re going to need before jumping into the home buying process.
Leigh Sellers: [20:10] Well, you mentioned your team and resources. I know that as a divorce lawyer, I have a book of resources. I mean I have realtors like yourself and mortgage brokers and therapists and doctors and a huge wealth of information that I will share with a client and give them some resources.
Leigh Sellers: [20:28] But I’m always talking about, as a divorce lawyer, it’s very important that you have your team in place to go through this. You need to have the right divorce attorney, you need to have a financial planner maybe to help you outside of it. You need to have a therapist to make sure you’re healthy as you go through it. Tell me about the team that you think somebody needs to have a successful home buying experience.
Diane McDermott: [20:51] One of my values is what I call heartfelt connection, and that’s really important. That’s a benchmark I measure every relationship, professionally, personally, against in my life is does this align as a heartfelt connection? Your team is so important. They are going to be cushion, your soft place to fall during this tremendously stressful process. There will be a trigger points that you’re going to need that support. It’s just important to really consider what’s the right fit for me? Is this individual, this professional, does this feel like the right connection and right fit for me?
Diane McDermott: [21:27] You and I have talked about this, Leigh. I might not be the best agent for everybody and you might not be the best divorce attorney for everybody. I don’t care who you choose, I just want it to be a connection that you know has your back and that you trust and that you know is going to be there for you to support you through the process. That heartfelt connection and that bond is really critically important not just for your realtor, but also with your mortgage professional. It’s any resource that’s supporting you through the home buying journey it’s important to have as fully you know they’ve got your back, and you don’t question it.
Leigh Sellers: [22:01] That’s an interesting point because I think sometimes when people are selling house, they often just naturally try to use the same agent to buy a house. But there are people that are stronger at selling properties than in helping match buyers with properties. People don’t often realize that you could choose to list your home and sell your home with one realtor and then be like, “Thank you so much, but for my buyer, I’m going somewhere,” because you don’t really save any money. I mean most seller agents, if they then find the buyer when they’re going to get [crosstalk [00:22:37].
Leigh Sellers: [22:38] Right. You’re not really doing yourself any favors to do that necessarily, unless they’re just a perfect fit for you for both.
Diane McDermott: [22:45] And they may be. I’ve had some couples that I’ve worked with I mean multiple times as their family grew or whatever. We had the relationship when they were buyers and we had the same great working relationship when they sold their house. But to me that’s been the exception. I just gravitate more naturally to the buyers.
Diane McDermott: [23:02] I have a lot of agents who are friends of mine, and I respect them and I refer to them, because if it’s something I don’t want to do and it’s their skill set, all day long I’ll connect people with them. I mean it’s playing to their … Some of my agent friends are brilliant at marketing, and they know. That is just their gift and their talent, but they don’t have the patience to be perfectly honest, to be a strong buyer agent, because the buying process takes patience.
Leigh Sellers: [23:32] It does. We’ve talked about the fact that the wrong person will still be wrong. An impatient buyer agent could pressure a client into buying a house that they don’t really want because they just want to get the process done. They don’t want to take six months showing them properties.
Diane McDermott: [23:49] That was very much my experience as a first-time buyer myself. I wasn’t yet married to my husband, but we bought the house together. I was pressured. That was one of my motivations why I got into the industry, was I never wanted a buyer client of mine to feel pressured at any decision point, because I know these decisions are not mine to make. I’m here to guide and support you, but you are the decision-maker. Me pressuring or me pushing is only going to backfire and blow up in my face and in yours.
Leigh Sellers: [24:20] I definitely see it sitting on the sidelines with my clients, where it’ll feel like that they’ve been pressured either into accepting an offer to sell the house that they weren’t really comfortable with or buy one that they weren’t really comfortable with. I’m not actually involved in the negotiations of the transaction, so I can’t really say whether or not they’re getting good advice because, honestly, I’m sure my clients feel pressured sometimes for me, even if that’s not my intent, just because I so strongly believe it’s a good option for them. I mean maybe I push it a little bit more than I should, and I think that’s natural. But, yeah, I think getting that connection. You’ve talked about needing a broker, a mortgage broker, if you don’t have the money to pay cash for it.
Diane McDermott: [25:01] Exactly.
Leigh Sellers: [25:02] What are some of the other team members that you should be circling around and make sure you have at the beginning of this process so you’re not rushing around when you’re under a time crunch?
Diane McDermott: [25:10] The two primary ones are going to be your real estate broker and mortgage broker. Some of the auxiliary, for lack of a better word, your home inspector. Your agent is typically, and your mortgage person, may actually have contacts to connect you with as well, attorney contacts, too. We are an attorney-driven state. As much of I didn’t like [crosstalk [00:25:29]-
Leigh Sellers: [25:29] For the closings, yeah.
Diane McDermott: [25:29] … during divorce, but real estate’s the same way. Real estate attorneys conduct the closing. Again, your mortgage person and real estate broker are going to be the best resources because they’re going to have their contacts that they know and trust and they work with all the time. Asking them, “Who do you recommend? Do you have termite inspectors, pest control people, moving resources?”
Diane McDermott: [25:50] There’s a myriad of things that are going to come up. In some, it’s good to at least have contacts ahead of time, just so even if you’re like me, you’re a researcher, and you want to do some background checking to get a feel for which pieces you are drawn to as far as professionals.
Leigh Sellers: [26:05] That’s true. What are some of the biggest pitfalls that you’ve seen or some of the biggest mistakes that you see buyers making when you’re trying to help them through this process?
Diane McDermott: [26:19] With women specific, the most common pitfall is not trusting your intuition. I’m guilty of doing this, too. I mean if I’m honest, I wouldn’t have gotten married if I had trusted my intuition a bit more strongly all those years ago. I see women question themselves, almost like they’re trying to talk themselves into something. I’ll take them aside …
Diane McDermott: [26:42] Single or married, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been in many homes where I’ve looked at someone and said, “You’re a no on this. Even if you can’t explain why, you’re a no. Let’s go.” They’re almost lingering like, “But I want to like it. It checks all the boxes.” But if you’re a no for some reason that you can’t quite pinpoint, you’re a no and let’s move on. It’s either a hell yes or a hell no.
Leigh Sellers: [27:06] Well, it’s a major purchase.
Diane McDermott: [27:08] It is a commitment. It is a long-term commitment. It is one like divorce that’s not simple and uncomplicated to unravel when it’s time for you to move on to the next phase.
Leigh Sellers: [27:21] Well, what are some of the, I don’t know, top pieces of advice in addition to trusting your instincts that you would give a first-time … Or I guess it may have been a very long time since they had purchased property together for recently separated or divorced women?
Diane McDermott: [27:41] The biggest piece of advice would be, and this applies for any stressful life transition situation: be kind to yourself. Make taking care of yourself a priority. In stressful situations, we often as women fall off our own list of priorities, and those are really the times that it’s so important for us to put ourselves and our needs and just taking care of ourselves and being kind to ourselves at the top of our list.
Diane McDermott: [28:11] I think that doesn’t necessarily come naturally for women. We’re such helpers and caretakers. Whether we have children or not, we’re so focused a lot of times on people outside of ourselves. We tend to forget to take care of ourselves, and that’s so important during stressful transition points.
Leigh Sellers: [28:28] Now you’ve actually written an ebook or a guide.
Diane McDermott: [28:31] I have.
Leigh Sellers: [28:32] Tell me about that.
Diane McDermott: [28:33] I did it because I realized I have all of this information that’s in my head, and so why not just get it out of my head and put it out there in the event that it helps someone? I really wanted it to be a guide, what to think about, what might you not have considered before jumping into the home buying process. It’s called The Badass Chick’s Guide to Home Buying.
Diane McDermott: [28:57] Badass has been a theme for me coming out of divorce. It’s just I’m passionate about really encouraging women to look at things from a more holistic perspective and things they may not have considered and things that aren’t necessarily popular in our media culture as far as when it comes to the home buying process.
Leigh Sellers: [29:16] You were sharing something with me earlier, and it was about the market for female home buyers.
Diane McDermott: [29:23] Yeah. Single women home buyers are the second largest group of home buyers nationally. Single women buyers outpace single men home buyers by more than … I think it’s more than two to one. But right below married couples, single women are the second largest group of home buyers, and yet there’s really not a ton of information out there communicating with them.
Leigh Sellers: [29:49] That surprised me because I didn’t realize that they were such a percentage different. I knew that there were a lot more single home buyers simply because people are postponing marriage in many states or just not marrying and living together. But I was shocked that it was that big of a disparity. The information and advice that you’ve given us is relevant to any home buyer, whether you’re married or single or recently divorced. It’s consistent for any home buyer. But this is a market that you’ve developed out of your own passion and interest, is that this group of home buyers needs a different level of support.
Diane McDermott: [30:35] I’ve had both perspectives myself, and I know that it is just a different outlook to be single, whether that’s divorced, you used to be part of a partnership and now that’s ended. It’s just a different way of looking at everything about home. I’ve stood in my own home and gone, “Well, no one else is here. I am the only one who can figure this out.” You really don’t know how strong and capable you are until you have no other choice.
Diane McDermott: [31:04] That was really one of the lessons of my own divorce. In my conversations with women, I’ve been so open in sharing about my separation and divorce. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat across the table from a woman and for her to say, “Oh, I’ve been there. Me, too.” It’s just shocking. It’s one of those things we don’t talk about.
Leigh Sellers: [31:26] Well, I think the whole reason that you were specifically coming on here is because buying a home is a process that people go through at many phases in life, and it should be an exciting and joyful process. It’s a milestone. It is a marker of achievement for many people. It’s always been part of the, and I’m using air quotes here, “American dream” of home ownership. It’s such a huge deal psychologically and emotionally for most people to buy a home, to have real estate in their name. It’s usually really exciting. I mean I remember my realtor showing up with a gift and celebrations at the end of the closing experience. Just getting those keys was really exciting. But, boy, you do this during a divorce, and it is any feeling-
Diane McDermott: [32:25] But …
Leigh Sellers: [32:25] … but exciting. The chaos of home purchasing during a divorce is a very different animal.
Diane McDermott: [32:37] It is. There’s multiple levels of chaos and there’s multiple levels of emotions running at the same time. It’s like you’re in the wilderness. I mean it’s territory you’ve never … There’s no guide for it, there’s no frame of reference, because I think that we have this in common, is that each of our clients, their journey is going to look unique to them. Are there going to be some similarities? Of course. But every contract close is different, every purchase contract is different, every buyer is different, and their experience is going to be different. When you layer buying a home with divorce, that is a tremendous amount of emotional stress going on.
Leigh Sellers: [33:23] It’s even more important to really have a resource and a good realtor and also really have a game plan.
Diane McDermott: [33:30] To have a plan and to be able to adjust that plan, because there are going to be things that come up out of left field that none of us saw coming. I tell people, “You’re not allowed to panic until I tell you it’s time to panic.” I’ve never had to tell anyone it’s time to panic. But there’s things that are going to come up that’ll be speed bumps or detours or just things that we’ve got to work through. I wrote a blog about this, is this normal? Because I get asked that a lot by home buyers. I’m like normal doesn’t really exist. If it happened, then clearly it’s part of your experience. Where are we trying to go? What next steps do we need to consider and take for you?
Leigh Sellers: [34:06] Well, you’ve given us a great deal of information today. Let’s say that people want to find you, because they can tell from listening they think you would be a great resource for them, where can they find you?
Diane McDermott: [34:18] My website and blog is at cbbuyersagent.com, which stands, if people Google, I’ll come up as Charlotte’s Best Buyers Agent. Cbbuyersagent. com. Email is the better way to reach me compared to phone. My email is DMcDermottCharlotte@gmail.com. Those are probably the two best primary ways where people get in touch with me.
Leigh Sellers: [34:47] Where could they most easily find this ebook that you wrote?
Diane McDermott: [34:51] It is on my website, cbbuyersagent.com. It actually has its own tab. It’s a free downloadable PDF resource. Of course, if anyone is interested or know someone that might benefit from that information, feel free to check it out.
Leigh Sellers: [35:05] All right. We’ll also have it in the show notes here. But we thank you for coming to talk to us today. I hope that you’ll come back and talk to us more about the nuts and bolts process, so that these home buyers that maybe haven’t done it by themselves before, you can give them a go-by of what they would expect, step-by-step, once they have decided they’re emotionally and financially ready and they have their team together.
Diane McDermott: [35:32] Absolutely. It’s been a pleasure. I would love to come back and revisit and explore some additional topics.
Leigh Sellers: [35:37] Great. Thank you so much.
Diane McDermott: [35:39] Thank you, Leigh.
Leigh Sellers: [35:41] There you have it, another neighborhood of Splitsville explored. There’s still so much to learn here, so I hope you’ll tune in to the next episode. While Splitsville is not a fun place to be, thankfully it is full of helpful people, valuable resources, and sound advice if you know where to look. See you next time.
Announcer: [36:03] The insights and views presented in Welcome to Splitsville are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation, nor does tuning into this podcast constitute an attorney-client relationship of any kind. If you’re ready for compassionate and reliable legal guidance on your journey, contact Leigh Sellers and her team at touchstonefamilylaw.com.