A house divided can be sold

Selling the home of a divorcing couple is a skill of its own

If you want to know who’s getting divorced in Hollywood, just ask a real estate broker.

For agent Greg Davis, the closet in the master bedroom is the giveaway.

“It’s the absolute first sign,” says Davis, who works in the Beverly Hills offices of Prudential California Realty. “You can tell when you see her stuff, but not his.”

Second clue: The pictures on the piano. “When someone dies, they’re still in the photos,” Davis says.

All the pictures are of one spouse? Divorce.

In a best-case scenario, the couple gets along well enough to agree on a broker. “If the sellers are unified in their interest to get the best deal, most often they’ll share the same broker,” says matrimonial law specialist Sheila Riesel, who repped Woody Allen and Al Pacino at New York firm Blank Rome.

The worst case is when both spouses want to keep the home and it ends up on the market in what Riesel calls a “Solomonic decision.” Another snag is when a spouse tries to sabotage a sale with an unreasonably high asking price or by decorating with fast-food containers.

“If the couple who are divorcing don’t get along, they use separate agents,” says Jory Burton of Sotheby’s Realty in Beverly Hills. “It means splitting a commission and no one likes to split a commission.”

In the Jennifer Aniston-Brad Pitt divorce, for example, she was repped by Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills; Westside Estate Agency, handled his deal.

Still, Burton says, “It’s better than no commission, especially if it’s a prestigious sale.”

These scenarios can also provide an unusual prospect for cooperation. If the buyer wants something the divorcing couple doesn’t want to give — such as a 60-day escrow or a Minotti chandelier — a two-agent team can play good cop/bad cop to good effect, as in: “We’d love to (let you have that), but they won’t go for it.”

Divorcing clients have also brought Davis a reliable sideline: Finding high-end residential leases for the newly single. “We do it because when they’re ready to buy,” he says, “they think of us.”

11 Brooks Avenue, Unit C
Live-work Frank Gehry loft features ocean views from three levels, concrete and hardwood floors and plywood laminate built-ins. Rooftop deck overlooks the beach with views from Palos Verdes to Point Dume.
Lease: $9,000/mo
Contact: John Ravenna, Venice Properties, (310) 729-3614

201 Ocean, #1901B
Santa Monica
Top floor, two-bedroom, three-bath condominium in Ocean Towers has an open floor plan, ocean and mountain views from living room and master bedroom and remodeled kitchen and baths with custom flooring/counters. Building has pool, spa and gym.
Lease: $18,000/month
Contact: Melinda & Scott Tamkin, Sotheby’s International Realty, (310) 493-4141

Yoakum Drive Home
Multi-level, three-bedroom, 3.5-bath home designed by Fred Fisher features soaring cathedral ceilings, spacious master suite with adjoining home office for two and gourmet kitchen.
Lease: $7,500/month
Contact: Greg Davis, Prudential Beverly Hills, (310) 777-7800