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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 101758
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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I am in desperate need of your insight/ guidance on a court

Customer Question

I am in desperate need of your insight/ guidance on a court battle I am currently in with my ex-husband. Long story short, I paid him out in cash, 2 years ago when we formally divorced, and I kept all rights to the house, including profits from the sale. By the end of 2014, I needed to refinance or sell, to get him off the mortgage, and for multiple reasons, I didn’t. Justin finally took me to court, for contempt, in February, and the court ordered I list the house in 7 business days at a “fair & reasonable” price. Not understanding residential real estate, or having a current appraisal, I listed it at $530,000. It was significantly higher than the rest of the homes in the neighborhood, but also was originally built as a custom $650,000+ home, that the builder foreclosed on, and Traton then built spec homes all around it. I priced it $10/sf higher than other houses that were recently on the market. All houses in my neighborhood were selling for $100,000+ more than original purchase price, and the houses were only 12-24 months old.
More details can help explain all this with supporting documents, if needed.
At the end of the day, I was taken back to court after 1 month, because my ex claimed it wasn’t a fair price. I was then forced to sell by the end of the weekend, and if I didn’t have an offer, my ex got to pick a new real estate agent. That agent would then have the authority to set the house price. But my ex and I are both on the mortgage, so she has a responsibility to us both, and I would think even more so to me, since I am the one that is financially tied to the transaction.
Regardless, 2 days before she ever set foot in my house, she sent a listing agreement with a sale price that was $105,000 LESS than current price. I disagreed, as does everyone else I know, and ended up getting an appraisal. She never showed me a market analysis, and my ex’s attorney refused to call the agent during court at the end of May, to have her explain over the phone how she came up with the $425,000 price. I truly believe it’s a number they pulled out of thin air, and the email below will point to reasons why. She doesn’t even work out of the same city office within her firm as my house is located. Her office is 20+ miles away, and the Roswell market is very different from Marietta, GA. That in itself makes me wonder why Justin was advised by his attorney to pick this specific agent.
I would love your opinion on if I have a valid case, either to file an injunction to have the price increased, or if I have a separate case to address directly with Keller Williams for fraud, negligence, etc.
She has refused to show me the original analysis she performed on or before May 2nd, and the one she just sent over, is set to parameters only within my neighborhood, and when I stated she needed to do a 1-2 mile radius, she sent a new list of comps of houses of any age & only 4 bedrooms. I don’t understand why she refuses to acknowledge the facts I presented below with the appraisal or other agent’s feedback, and increase the price. She is still defending a market value price that is reflective of houses only in my neighborhood (as she admitted in a separate email I am also sending now), that was done before she ever stepped foot in my house, and despite a reputable appraiser stating it was $40,000 more in value.
Even if pricing a home to sell aggressively, is it common practice for the agent to recommend something as drastic as 10%+ on a house almost worth half a million?
Legally, what is she required to do?
I feel like I am just being forced to sit back, as a single mother with two kids (and no job/ steady paycheck since august), and just let my ex continue to take money from me.
Can you please help me???
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. To sum up, the problem here seems to be that you and your ex cannot agree as to which price to list the property for. Correct?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
5. In that same email chain, I refused to simply sign the document, and Justin then said we would have to go back to court, and instead of listening to me and wanting to list at $490,000 in the meantime, until court, you immediately emailed back stating that you would take the listing off completely, and that $425,000 was market value. – attached is your email stating $425,000 was market price –
6. This is where I want to double check and make sure that you truly believe, and have verified, that the house should be listed at $425,000. Because I don’t understand how you can be spot on at $425,000 without even stepping foot in my house. Is $425,000 your recommended listing price, or a somewhat ok price to list it at, based on a number that Justin wanted the day you were hired? I ask, because I will be calling several professionals to testify their disagreement with you on the price. As a heads up, attached is the appraisal. It is valued at $465,000+, and recommended by the appraiser to list it at $475,000. This is one of the top appraisers in Georgia, and he admitted that from just doing the calculation, prior to stepping foot in the house, the estimated value of my home was substantially lower than what it ended up at. – attached is the appraisal –
7. I have been solicited by several real estate companies, since you changed the listing, all of whom are telling me the price should be much higher than $425,000. Attached is an email I got a few days ago from a local agent, who does an occasional update to newsletter subscribers on the value of their home. Her estimate, without walking in the house, is $454,508. I also have a friend of a friend that came over to look at the house. He is a real estate agent, and also flips houses in the Marietta area. He recommended the house be listed at $490,000, and was completely shocked when he saw $425,000. – attached is the email from another agent putting the house at $454,508 –
8. Zillow has my house estimated at $452,664. Also note that the listing still has no photos or detailed description to properly market the house, despite the fact that the cost has been modified, and the description IS a new one that is not the one I had up from Duffy. – attached is the screenshot of Zillow’s estimate on my house, as of today, 6/6 @ 6:09am –
9. If, in fact, you stand firm behind your emails that $425,000 is market price, and that you are representing my best interests and financial wellbeing as your client, please send me the market analysis you performed, on or before 5/2/16, that supports that amount. I have never seen anything, and it would be helpful to see what houses you considered like comparisons, because there is a disconnect, somewhere.
10. Since the listing is not fully uploaded/ complete, I would like to know if it is still your recommendation to the court, and me, that my house be priced at $425,000. If so, I would like an updated market analysis, backing this decision that you will testify to at the next hearing. Since the court has put decision making power in your hands, I would like to bring this to your attention now, in the event it can be a win-win for everyone. I hope you understand that I am not trying to be difficult, and that you 100% understand that a variance of $25,000- 50,000 asking price being recommended by multiple other agents & a leading appraiser, absolutely makes me feel the need to make sure you have all this info, are aware of the court order and that I see the documents you used to come up with $425,000 to understand why its so drastic, especially because the basic calculation and process to do a market value doesn’t take in to account all the upgrades and features my house has… so if anything, the price should only go up from there. There is nothing about my house that would cause you walking through the front door to decrease the estimate or keep it the same, as has been our situation.Please let me know your thoughts. Again, I am just trying to be transparent and let you know exactly where I stand, because there is too much money on the line to sit back and not at least ask the questions and request to see the supporting documentation. Thanks, Lauren------
Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.


What someone in your situation wants to do is to file a Motion for Clarification. You are going to keep arguing back and forth until the Court hears this matter via a clarification.

In the motion for clarification, one wants to explain that guidance is needed for what is "reasonable" and "fair." Then, the Judge will:

1) Appoint a neutral third party to place the listing at whatever they think is fair, or

2) Ask both to provide evidence to what they believe the price should be, and then make a decision on what the price should be based off the evidence (both can use estimates, experts, agents, etc, for testimony and evidence).

Otherwise, the two of you are going to keep arguing. The Court will eventually have to set a price if you cannot agree. It is better to ask the Court to set it, then the Judge setting it sua sponte (on court's own motion) out of being tired of seeing the parties keep coming back to court.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.