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Today's real estate market calls for dire divorce decisions

Sarah Bandy The Star-Ledger
Today's real estate market calls for dire divorce decisions - property market - property consumers

Sarah Bandy always knows something is up when she helps a couple try to sell their home, but hears back from only one spouse.

"They don’t tell us in the beginning," said Bandy, a real estate agent who brokers deals for luxury homes in Colts Neck. But lately, when she presents clients with a home valuation report, the answer is almost always, "Oh, we can’t do that. It’s too low."

"Then they end up confessing, especially the wife," Bandy said.

The couple is divorcing, and they need to get rid of the house. But today’s housing market has reversed what once was a hallmark of divorce settlements — who gets to keep the house. Now, the home might be worth less than its mortgage, and there are no guarantees it will sell in the near future, much less for a profit.

Couples then are left with a series of unforeseen puzzles — who takes on the financial responsibility, how to split any possible debt and at what point it makes sense to move on.

"This has become one of the prime issues that I’m dealing with," said Robert Kornitzer, a matrimonial attorney in Hackensack. "I don’t want to say it’s slowly developed. It’s hit us with a sledgehammer."


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