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What if you can’t agree on a sale price?

When a couple separate they have a lot to arrange; and for the majority they are able to do so by agreement. But sometimes there is a sticking point. In the recent case of Frentz and Martens [2020] the issue was the sale price for the former matrimonial home.

The parties agreed that their assets should be divided equally between them and they agreed that the home needed to be sold; they even agreed on the value of all assets – but just could not agree on the value for the house.

By the time they got to trial, the house had been listed at $5,000,000 for some months. The husband said he would not sell for below $4,800,000, while the wife proposed that it be listed at $3,700,000 and then a reduction over time if still not sold.

The Judge reviewed the valuation that had been obtained ($3,550,000), the agents recommendation ($4,800,000), the evidence in relation to the open houses that had to date occurred (with no offers at the asking price), and sections 80 and 81 of the Family Law Act. Section 81 provides that the Court should make Orders that brings the financial relationship to an end; section 80 says that the Court should explore all reasonable avenues to do so.

His Honour determined that the listing price should be that of the agreed valuer – that is $3,550,000 – but also made Orders that provided for a reduction in price, listing for auction, and a change of Agent if so necessary.

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