Selling Real Estate in a Divorce with Aspen Realtor Chris Klug – Ep. 10

Divorce at Altitude Podcast

Selling a house can be one of the biggest challenges that arises during the divorce process. Aspen realtor Chris Klug joins Ryan Kalamaya on Episode 10 of Divorce at Altitude to discuss what a realtor can do to ensure that both parties are able to get the most value for one of the biggest assets in a divorce. They discuss different challenges that can be faced with listing a home during the divorce process and actions real estate agents can take to combat them. 

In This Episode

–       How a realtor handles communication with both parties during the sale of the house during a divorce

–       How a realtor prices a home

–       How timing with different markets can affect selling a home during a divorce

–       Challenges with selling a house during a divorce

–       What questions does a real estate agent ask during the initial listing appointment for both parties?

–       Predictions for the real estate market going into 2021 

Make sure to follow us to continue the conversation on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter. 

About Chris Klug

Chris Klug is a licensed Real Estate Broker with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby‚ÄôsInternational Realty in Aspen, CO. Chris has been a long-time resident of Aspen, CO who found the love of the mountains and snowboarding early in his life. Chris was a three-time Winter Games participant, Olympic Bronze Medalist in Salt Lake City in 2002, eleven-time US National Champion, twenty-year veteran of the Snowboard World Cup, and five-time World Cup Champion. Chris also devotes his time to promoting life-saving organ and tissue donation through the Chris Klug Foundation.

What is Divorce at Altitude? 

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado. 

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha’s YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here

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DISCLAIMER: THE COMMENTARY AND OPINIONS ON THIS PODCAST IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE OR AREA TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE ON ANY OF THESE ISSUES.

Episode 10

Ryan Kalamaya:
Hey everyone. I’m Ryan Kalamaya.

Amy Goscha:
And I’m Amy Goscha.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Welcome to the Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law.

Amy Goscha:
Divorce is not easy, it really sucks. Trust me. I know. Besides being an experienced divorce attorney, I’m also a divorce client.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Whether you are someone considering divorce, or a fellow family law attorney, listen in for weekly tips and insight into topics related to divorce, co-parenting and separation in Colorado. Welcome back to another episode of Divorce at Altitude. This is Ryan Kalamaya. This week I’m joined by a guest, a lot of people doesn’t need any introduction, but for those that don’t know, Chris Klug is a top selling real estate broker with Aspen Sotheby’s here in, or I should say Sotheby’s International here in Aspen. He was a bronze medalist in snowboarding in Salt Lake City. Chris, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Klug:
Ryan, thanks a lot for having me on. Nice to see you. And thanks for connecting.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Yeah. And before we start this we talked about, you got a new puppy and hopefully the barking in the background we can ameliorate that and if not, then it’s all good.

Chris Klug:
We’ve got a lot of excitement at our household right now. I’ve got a seven and nine year old, and we just added a new member to the family, a little puppy on Monday. We closed on a very cool mountain cabin on Monday. So we’re adding a few more things to our plate right now, but it’s super exciting. And as you can see from the attire, I snuck out for a couple laps at Snowmass Ski Area with my wife today. So all is good. It’s a gorgeous springtime, as you know this time of year can be winter, or biking season, you never quite know, but yeah, very grateful. Been an amazing 2020, and a great start to 2021, and having a lot of fun, Ryan. And I think anytime I have fun, I usually have success as well. I really like the cliche that if you love what you’re doing you never work a day in your life. And I think that really holds true for me, that was true in my snowboarding career. And I think it’s a big part of my success in real estate.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Well, we’re going to talk about your predictions on the market and how they relate to maybe people that are going through divorce, but I wanted to start off with something maybe a little bit different from what you’ve probably done in the past in other interviews. And really get down to, I think a lot of people would describe you as happy, or stoked, you mentioned having fun, and that is really something that you’ve leaned into. Is that something, the fun, the stoke, is that something you were born with, or is that something that you are intentional about?

Chris Klug:
Well, I think it was always my nature. I love what I’m doing and obviously we all go through challenges in life, for me being on a transplant waiting list and receiving a life saving liver transplant, that was a very scary place to be. And yet I think I tried to focus on the positive and then the time that I did have, and hoping and praying that I would get a second chance at life, and that wouldn’t be the end for me. I think really my transplant only reinforced that, that life is really precious. And I know it sounds cliche, but my mantra in my snowboarding career and my life has always been, enjoy the ride, don’t take a single turn for granted.

Chris Klug:
I really try to make the most of every opportunity and I’m very fortunate now to have had great success in my real estate career. I can choose who I want to work with. If people are really, really difficult and unreasonable, and I’ll often say, Carrie Wells might be a great fit, or Stephen Shane, you might be happier with Stephen Shane. I’m joking, but it’s really, I like what I’m doing. I get to work with a lot of very cool people. As you well know, it’s one of the most stressful events in somebody’s life buying and selling one of their largest assets. And it’s right up there with death, and birth, and divorce, and buying and selling real estate. So talking about divorce and real estate, two of the most stressful events in somebody’s life, I think really takes an advisor that is going to be unbiased and give you an unvarnished opinion of what’s going on in the market, and what their asset is really worth.

Chris Klug:
And right now what we’re seeing, because the market is so active, because inventory’s historically low, you’re seeing a lot of brokers really buy the listings, or just throw out ridiculously priced numbers, 25% over maybe what the comps might suggest for something in a similar neighborhood. And that’s not always a strategy that works. And I think as sellers pick the numbers out of the sky and say, Oh, I would sell if I got this number, I’m not sure that’s sustainable. I’m not sure double-digit appreciation is sustainable. So at some point I think this will slow down, but as it stands right now, there’s still very strong demand. And in Snowmass Village where I live, as well as you, there’s about 75% less inventory year over year, and about half that in Aspen. So a lot less choices, a lot less options, and still very strong demand.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Yeah. I think there’s some definite similarities in the real estate business, as well as what I do is oftentimes people will come in, they’ll call me and there’ll be scared, there’ll be stressed. And they want to hear that a guarantee on what exactly they’re going to be paying, or receiving. And it’s really easy as a lawyer to be in that sales mode and promise them, but then the expectations really get out of whack. And that is something you have to be trusted in order to give that candid advice, but we’ll get into that, but I want to go back to something you mentioned about divorce and real estate, and being stressful. And for someone that is going through a stressful time, what do you do to handle that stress? Are there various tactics or things that you do to manage those stressful situations?

Chris Klug:
Well, it is a very stressful event for many people when they have a strong relationship and their partner, and themselves are on the same page, and everybody’s excited about this opportunity, and they’re really enthusiastic about pursuing this particular property, or selling the house and moving onto the next chapter, it’s still a stressful event. When you have a couple that’s maybe at odds, and they’re going through that stressful event, it only adds to the anxiety and the stress. So what I really try to do I think is, is really listen to both parties. I think it’s critical that you typically, when you’re listening to something you can identify who the decision maker is pretty quickly, and they’re both involved, but maybe one of the partners isn’t as invested in the sales process, and the other one really is, and there’s no real rhyme, or reason to that, sometimes it’s the husband, sometimes it’s the wife, sometimes it’s both, sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Chris Klug:
I think in the situation of divorce, you need to recognize that they’re both decision makers and really give, I think, equal credence and equal attention to both, and say, listen, my job is to not leave a dollar on the table for either of you, I’m going to fight hard for both of you. That’s the only way I know how to do this business. And that sounds like a sales pitch and a bit self-serving, but there really is only one way to do this business, and that’s fairly and honestly, and with integrity. And I think if you sit somebody down and just say, listen, I fight for every dollar for my clients. I’m not going to leave a dollar on the table for either of us. And I respect that you guys are going through a challenging time in your lives, but I’m going to try to make this as unstressful as I can, and listen to both of you, and hold your hands through the whole process.

Chris Klug:
And really that’s our job is, yes, we are sales professionals, and I get very excited about the sales and the marketing process, that’s really what I think I’m strongest at and what I really enjoy. But I do this every single day, and the Colorado Real Estate Commission Contract to Buy-Sell is second nature for me. I understand it really well. And I can explain it really well, but not everybody does. And somebody that is a doctor, or in sales in another state, or another field, they don’t study their contract to buy-sell, and just presenting that 15 page document to somebody can be very stressful. And so I think I try to do a lot of handholding, a lot of listening, a lot of explaining and setting the expectations up front. And then, I know you and I are going to talk a little bit about a comparative market analysis, and really doing an in-depth analysis, a very detailed analysis of their property.

Chris Klug:
And when it comes to pricing, I’m getting a little in front of our conversation here, but there’s three things to really consider when it comes to pricing. And I always joke that it’s part art and it’s part science. The science are three things, the comps, the competition, and the market trends. They’re the facts. They’re indisputable. What is sold. What’s listed. Somebody looking at your house today, Ryan, what else might they look at? And how do we stack up against that? And what else has sold in your target area, or your neighborhood? Because that ultimately, buyers are going to look at that too. And it’s public information, it’s on the assessor’s site, what the house two doors down traded for six months ago.

Chris Klug:
And so you got to look at the science part, but then the art is, Mr and Mrs. Seller, or Mr. Mr. Seller, or whatever, what are your expectations and what is your timeline? And I think those are really important conversations to have upfront. And if you don’t do that in-depth analysis, if you don’t have those conversations, I think you’re setting yourself up for a rocky road in the relationship.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Yeah. So for prior listeners, they know that we use these hypothetical, or a fictional character, and Eric Wolf, he is a sophisticated business owner. And the story is that Melanie his ex, or his wife soon to be ex-wife, they go to counseling and she announces that she’s hired a divorce lawyer. Let’s assume that Eric is very familiar with the real estate market as a savvy business man, whereas Melanie may not have as much familiarity. How would you approach Eric to talk about the sales process, and how would that differ with Melanie?

Chris Klug:
Well, I think I would start by just having a conversation with them, trying to understand where they’re coming from. We do a lot with the DISC profile and recognizing, it sounds like Eric might be a D and Melanie might be more like an S or a C, and they assimilate, or they sort through information differently. And so maybe the way you talk to Eric is a little bit different, and how you present the information, how you might present the analysis, and it might be a little different than how you’d have to present that to Melanie. But what’s critical is that you’re both giving them your full attention, you’re listening, and it’s not, I’m helping Eric more than Melanie. And I’ve done a lot of sales that were really the result of divorce. And why do people buy and sell real estate? It’s because their family’s expanding, or their family is maybe decreasing sadly, or they’re relocating for work, or as we saw in the great COVID migration and the urban exodus the last few years, it’s an opportunity to work from home and maybe relocate to our resort markets.

Chris Klug:
And so understanding what the motivation is first for selling, and then just really, I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but really listening and understanding where are Eric, or Melanie coming from? And how do I best present that information to them? What’s their behavioral style, what’s their preferred communication style? And how do I present that so that I’m not talking to Eric the same way I’m talking to Melanie, but she’s getting, or he’s getting the same attention, and my energies are focused equally on developing a good rapport with each of them, and really trying to communicate clear to them, and using a Socratic method.

Chris Klug:
Maybe when I talk to Melanie I’ll say, Melanie, does that make sense? Have I explained this well? Is there something I’m leaving out, or something that’s not clear? Or maybe I’m saying that to Eric, maybe he’s the S or the C. It sounds like he might be a little bit more of a D, and might just want to get this thing done and move forward, and you want to, when it’s somebody that’s a D, or maybe an I, you want to keep it really concise, and really tight, and not go into the minutiae of it all.

Ryan Kalamaya:
So what if Eric comes in and he says, Chris Zillow says our house is worth two and a half million dollars. I want you to list it for two and a half million dollars. Can you explain that dynamic? And also you mentioned a CMA, a comparative market analysis, for those that don’t know, can you explain that in the context of isn’t Zillow just good enough?

Chris Klug:
Well, the Zillow Zestimates really are off of appraisal.com, off the assessor’s site, and off of recent comps that they’ve calculated. I always use the joke that, Hey, listen, if the assessor thinks it’s worth four and a half, maybe I think it’s worth 4,2, let’s call him up, and let’s write up an offer. I think a little humor sometimes can provide a little levity in a serious, maybe stressful situation. I think the other thing is, I do do a very detailed analysis of the target area and the neighborhood. And then when you’re doing a CMA, you really want to compare a comparative market analysis, really the best, no more than three or four comps, and then really drill down deep in that. Does that same house have a two car garage? Does it have a main level master suite? Was it remodeled in the last couple of years, or is it a 1975 dated genre, or something of the seventies.

Chris Klug:
So you got to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when you’re doing that analysis. And then I think you have to have the conversation about the absorption rate. What is the seller’s expectation in terms of how fast do Eric and Melanie in this scenario want to sell their home? Typically, the average days on market in the resort markets is close to 300 plus days. Right now it’s a lot quicker than that because inventory is historically low, it’s about half that, but not unusual for even a listing that’s priced right, marketed very aggressively, staged beautifully. We’ve really done everything, we’re leveraging our expansive social media platform. We’re doing virtual reality floor plans. We’re doing virtual tours on social media. We’re doing everything that we had committed to in our 15 point marketing plan, and the property sits.

Chris Klug:
You have to remember that in a lot of the resort markets that it’s very cyclic. We have a very pronounced off season, as you know, as well as anyone, once the lifts stop spinning, it gets pretty quiet. And then it’s not until, in Aspen or Snowmass, until food and wine, maybe the third week of June, until the summer selling season ramps up. And then once everybody goes back to school, or around labor day, it gets a little quiet, or certainly once the foliage and leaves fall off, it gets really quiet again until the lifts fire up around Thanksgiving. So the timing of when you’re going to list that, and the number, has a real impact on how soon we’re going to sell it, I’ll say, sure, I’ll list that at two and a half million dollars, but you need to know that these three other properties are listed at 2,3, 2,4, and 2,450, and I think they’re tough competition.

Chris Klug:
There are on the West side of Fairway Drive, and they have the big daily views. Your house is on the East side, and it’s looking at the Beaver ponds, which is also very cool. And you got to be careful when you have that conversation that they don’t say, Oh, you don’t believe in my house. And then you’re out the door because it is hard to sell something if you don’t believe in it. I’ve had so much success selling a lot of my listings and someone told me really early on, I think it was Greg Hunter, my mentor, he said, well, if you don’t believe in it, you’re probably not the one to sell it. And that’s true. Sometimes I walk into open houses, I walk into previews, and I’m just walking around scratching my head. And maybe I’m not the right broker to sell that house.

Chris Klug:
But if I do walk through it and I liked the floor plan, I see the potential, I like the finishes, I like the orientation, I like the location, I understand the access, and I say, okay, then I have a decision to make, because anytime you step into a meeting, a listing appointment, one of three things are going to happen. They’re going to decide to list with me. They’re going to decide not to list with me. I’m going to decide not to take the listing. And I think after you spend thousands and thousands of dollars on properties that are overpriced, and have some compromises, and you waste your money with no chance of selling that property, you start to be a little more discerning in your listing portfolio and what you can, and can’t sell.

Ryan Kalamaya:
And you mentioned that you can walk away from a listing and there are certainly some brokers that will walk away when they hear the divorce word, because they are a challenge. And you would agree that one of those challenges is that if Eric and Melanie, in our hypothetical, if Melanie’s going to remain in the house, and is emotionally tied to the house, that there might be some differences on what they think should happen to that house. She might have an incentive to stay in the house much longer than Eric, and Eric might want to say, I want this to be sold yesterday whereas Melanie just wants to drag it out. And as divorce lawyers, we typically have agreements pertaining to that. But what are those considerations for you, Chris, on the broker side? And what are you thinking about when you’re hearing divorce is potentially a motivating factor in selling a property?

Chris Klug:
Well, it is one of the, as we spoke, it is one of the primary reasons that somebody is listing. Again, maybe their family’s expanding, or decreasing, or they’re moving out of the area, they’re coming to the area, or their relationship is no longer sustainable, or working anymore. I think it’s just really important to understand that I’m going to list this property and here’s what’s involved. We need to get buyers in the door to sell the property. And so if Melanie is sabotaging that effort by maybe the house isn’t organized, and maybe it isn’t staged like we’d really like, or maybe she’s not accommodating with the photography and some of the marketing collateral that we need to prepare, because oftentimes in this Zillowrealtor.com world that we live in, you often only have 30 seconds to capture somebody’s attention.

Chris Klug:
They’re rifling through listings, maybe not so much right now, because, again, inventory is so low that there aren’t that many options, but typically nine out of 10 buyers are looking online before they ever pick up the phone and call me, or call their broker, and set up a showing to see my listing in this case. And so you really have to have your first couple of lines of your marketing description really tight, put your best foot forward. What are the best attributes about this house? What are the things that are really, we want a buyer to focus on that are going to help us sell this home? And likewise, with your video, and with your photos, if somebody is cruising through Zillow and they’re looking at it at the middle of the night, how are we going to capture their attention to really want to pick up the phone, or to schedule that showing through whatever app they might be using.

Chris Klug:
And so you need both Melanie’s cooperation and Eric’s, and asking those questions upfront that is this realistic to do Friday open houses? Is that going to work for you with your schedule, work, or kids, or obligations, whatever it might be? And also Eric needs to understand that Melanie is living in the house and you’re in another town, or another state, and we really have to be on the same page, maybe after set up, shared housekeeping, maybe after set up, some real parameters of, Hey, this is when we’re going to show the house. This works for Melanie with her schedule, and Eric you’re going to have to live with it. We can’t show this seven days a week. It’s just not conducive for Melanie’s schedule with her obligations or whatever.

Chris Klug:
So again, it goes back to asking those tough questions upfront, and you have to ask those questions upfront, or you might get sounded with, again, you’re spending thousands of dollars marketing this property and promoting it through all of your channels, and Melanie doesn’t really want to sell it. She’s totally content being in the house. And Eric is pounding his chest that we need to get this thing sold tomorrow. So you have to understand exactly what situation you’re going into. I would just say a long-winded answer is making sure you’re asking the difficult questions in that listing appointment.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Yeah. One thing I can think of, or in representing someone like Eric, is typically we will create some agreement that is supposed to be between the parties and confidential. And it will outline that the house needs to be in show ready condition, that notice of showings will be made and complied with within a reasonable amount of time. And it sounds as if what I’m hearing you say, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that it may be even be helpful to be included in the marketing and the video, and making sure upfront before that listing agreement is maybe even signed, that working with divorce professionals like divorce attorneys, that it might be helpful for everyone to understand what your expectations are to market, and sell a house, and get top dollar.

Chris Klug:
Yeah. And the other thing too is really the, before that listing launches, I really believe one of the axioms in marketing is, you only get one chance to make a first impression. And so if you launch that house with personal photos everywhere, and clutter everywhere, and the beds are a mess, and the walls need painting, and the carpet needs cleaning, what do you think the reaction of buyers is going to be when they walk in the house? Well, you need to do this, that, and the other, that’s going to cost me X and Y. And I don’t really like this or that. So it’s ultimately going to take money out of both Eric and Melanie’s pockets. So the right way to do it is to, the three rules of staging are, declutter, depersonalize the 3 D’s, and deep clean. And so somehow you have to get Eric and Melanie on the same page and say, listen, I know you really value this whole wall of family photos, but a buyer can’t see themselves in your house when all they see is you and the kids.

Chris Klug:
And that’s a tough conversation to have. And often what you have to do is say, listen, we have to balance my goal of selling your house for top dollar, and when a buyer walks through the door, them having a positive experience and saying, I could see myself enjoying Thanksgiving dinner here. I could see myself enjoying great family patio dinners out on the stone patio. And if it’s cluttered and not clean, and not staged properly, it’s going to cost them money in the end. So I think ultimately going back to, this is why we’re doing this because we do want to achieve a top dollar sale and not leave a dollar on the table. I think everybody understands that.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Yeah. And but certainly, going back to the story and Eric, there’s a scene where he looks down his phone and he starts scrolling through pictures of his family and he starts crying. And there is an emotional component when you’re decluttering and depersonalizing, that people are really confronting that this is in fact happening. It’s inevitable, and as professionals, we all understand that, but it’s difficult and it can be an emotional process. Let’s move on. I want to hear your thoughts on, you said 2020 was a big year. A lot of people have seen reports on how much real estate sold in 2020. Can you give us a rundown? How are things for you?

Chris Klug:
Well, 2020 was an incredible year. I set a very ambitious goal in January, of 2020, of selling a hundred million dollars. And we doubled that in 2020. So it was a big year for us and a lot of fun. It was so much fun, but I’m very grateful. I had a great team. I felt like an air traffic controller there in July, August, and September when I was like, Hey, Ali, you go here, Dillon, you go here, and then I’ll circle back and do this, and then write this up. And I definitely took some great coordination on my team because there just simply weren’t enough hours in the day. And I think we also recognized that we had an unprecedented opportunity to really have an historic selling summer, an historic selling year. And it didn’t stop, July or September felt like July. And even the traditional very quiet months of October and November were explosive, and really up until Christmas. And then we had a little lull in January, in Aspen there was no international business.

Chris Klug:
And typically in January we see in Aspen a lot of Brazilian, a lot of Australian guests, and ultimately buyers, and they couldn’t get here. And then all the events like X Games and Gay Ski Week, and all of these things, there were no visitors and no fans, or spectators. So a very different January this year gave us a chance to catch our breath before going into 2021. And then I really saw around President’s weekend, things really picked up and has been pretty non-stop ever since. But looking back on 2020, you have to remember it was about a year ago on March 15th, when the lifts stopped spinning, and I had five or six deals implode in the next couple of days. And I was sitting right here in my office and I looked at my wife, I said, “Wow, are we going to sell anything else in 2020?”

Chris Klug:
And you have to remember that, Oh, I’ve got a visitor here to help me. You have to remember that all spring and early summer, we were just hoping and praying that we’d have summer selling season. And it was frankly pretty scary. And then the end of June a switch really got flipped and it was all hands on deck all summer and throughout the rest of 2020.

Ryan Kalamaya:
It was certainly an amazing experience, I remember being in mediation for a case, and it was in person around this time, and then things got real, real fast, and the lifts stopped. I remember clients calling me because they had listed their property and they’re selling it, and no one knew if the world was ending, and then it snapped back very quickly. So what do you predict? With that in mind, no one could have predict a global pandemic at the time, and what it was going to do to the real estate market. Chris, what are your thoughts for someone that is going through a divorce right now, or is thinking about selling their property, what are the things that you’re telling your clients right now that are thinking about selling their property in the Roaring Fork Valley?

Chris Klug:
If you’re a seller, don’t wait. We don’t know how long this is going to last. And as I said earlier, double-digit appreciation and sellers telling the market, setting the price, setting the market, can’t last forever. And so if you’re a seller, don’t wait. That’s my advice right now. And in terms of buyers, not easy to find value out there, you need a broker that knows about the listings that are in MLS, and that are marketed as well as off market opportunities. And in January when we had that little lull, I really took that opportunity to just almost like I was last March, just reaching out to my sphere, to my clients, my friends, and just checking in on saying, Ryan, how’s it going? How’s your family? How’s Holly doing? How are the kids? And just reaching out to them.

Chris Klug:
And I found myself in March when we had no business, and as I said, I had five or six deals implode. And I was just hoping and praying that we’d sell anything in 2020, all through March, April and early June, I found myself busier than ever. And that’s one of the things I loved about COVID. I cherished the quality family time and some of the adventures we did, we weren’t getting on commercial flights, but I love the cherished family time, that was so special for us, but I also loved how it forced all of us to be more creative, to pivot as we all say, but to really rethink our business, to rethink our marketing strategies, and our communication.

Chris Klug:
And so as bad as COVID was, I don’t want to sound insensitive and tone deaf, I did love the quality time with my family and those that I really care about the most, but I also love that it forced me to think a little out of the box and to improve as a sales professional with digital home tours and improving the experience on my website knowing that people couldn’t come see homes in person. And then figuring out the safety protocols and everything when we did resume showings. And so it was an unprecedented 2020, and as I said, it’s been an amazing ride, I’m very grateful to have been a part of it. And one of the neat things about real estate as we wrap up this conversation is, you often see people at their best and their worst, and I’m sure you see it in your business too all the time. And that can be very challenging, but I always say to new brokers getting into the business, or new brokers with our company, Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s, I say, you really have to have to have a good grasp on five things.

Chris Klug:
You have to know the contractual process, or the legal process. We’re not lawyers like you, but you better figure out what the mediation clause names or anything. And you better understand that contract to buy-sell. You also have to have a good grasp on finance and just general financial knowledge of real estate acquisitions and sales, and a basic understanding of tax. And the last few things are great communication skills and know the market inside and out, you got to know the inventory, what sold, what’s listed, how was that home that sold three doors down? And then you have to have some design, some construction, and some interior design background. We’re not interior designers, we’re not attorneys, we’re not financial advisors, but you better have all of those skills to be successful in this business. You don’t have to be a contractor, and have built all your own homes, and understand exactly the pounds per square foot on the roof, but you better have a good understanding on the differences. And I would just say the last thing is, we are part psychologist sometimes too.

Chris Klug:
And I know you are in your role big time. And I think I am too, and these are all human beings, and sometimes they’re very close friends, sometimes they’re complete strangers, but we’re really trying to help people. And one of the rules is you always put your client first. They’re always first. And I think that’s what real estate agents and sales professionals in general get a bad reputation, or sometimes it’s a negative connotation because they just think of the sales professional as having commission agents, they just want to earn the commission. But I think if we act as advisors and put our clients first, and give them an unvarnished opinion of what’s going on in the market, and then help hold their hands, act as interpreter and advisor, and put their interests first, at the end of the day that will always serve you well, and you’ll be successful, I think, in this business.

Chris Klug:
And these are human beings, there are going through a very stressful transaction on their most important, their most valuable asset, and furthermore, their relationship is deteriorating when it comes to dealing with divorce clients. And so listening, being compassionate, being an advisor and an interpreter to them. And at the end of the day, using that Socratic method of, Ryan, did I explain that well, does that make sense, or did I not? It seems like I might not have done a very good job. Let me try to explain that in a different way. Asking a lot of questions and being a good listener, I think for me, especially when you’ve got a more complicated transaction with buyer and seller at odds, is critical.

Ryan Kalamaya:
No, that really resonates with me, Chris, because dealing with people in divorce context, there’s certainly an acknowledgement that with a billable hour, if you’re billing by the hour, there’s a financial incentive to cause conflict that is in contrast to the long-term business objectives, for someone like me I tell people I could gouge you and give you a huge bill in your divorce, but then you’re going to leave a poor review online, and that’s just bad business. For me it’s one of the reasons that we were one of the only firms that does fixed fees because then it relieves that issue. But then, another thing that you mentioned that really struck me was that we, as divorce lawyers we’re working with real estate attorneys, we’re working with real estate professionals like yourself, tax advisors, we don’t know everything, we’re the quarterback on a bunch of different issues, including psychology and counseling.

Ryan Kalamaya:
And so that, I think there’s a lot of overlap between what we do, and it’s a pleasure to have someone that you can trust that you know is taking care of someone through a really difficult period, making decisions about real estate, making decisions about the future of their life. And sometimes it’s a matter of protecting them from themselves, because people can oftentimes not know exactly what they want, or they may want something, or think they want something that is, you feel that out, or flush that out with those questions. But Chris, for those that don’t know how to found you, you’re all over the place on social media. I think it’s one of the real advantages for you. Where can people find out more about Chris Klug?

Chris Klug:
Thanks a lot, Ryan. I appreciate that. My website, we work very hard on that, and have a lot of fun with it, and that’s klugproperties.com. My last name, K-L-U-Gproperties.com. And that’s our social media handle on most all of our social media channels, is @Klugproperties. And we really have a lot of fun. Listen, we’re selling one of the greatest products in the world, and that is, Mountain Alpine Resort real estate, specifically for me, it’s Aspen Snowmass and the upper Roaring Fork Valley. But whether it’s my friends in Telluride, or Crested Butte, or Steamboat, or Vail, or wherever, these are all really, really special places. And I had the unique perspective of traveling and visiting on my snowboard all of these resorts. And I’m obviously an Aspenite through and through, and a little biased, but there’s a lot of great places in Colorado, and in and around the Rocky Mountains.

Chris Klug:
And for so many years when I was snowboarding professionally, I was really, it sounds corny, but I was really selling myself. And there’s only so much support and so much money within the snowboard industry, and I really had to transcend the snowboard industry and find some other partners that could help finance my Olympic dreams. And you walk in there and you’re like, Hey, I’m a snowboard racer. And this is what I’m doing. People would be like, wait, what? And now, I had so many doors slammed in my face, and I had some great partners that were really my partners through my whole career, but it taught me, I think the communication skills, and it taught me really how to have those conversations. And ultimately now I’m not selling myself and trying to solicit sponsorships and endorsements to support my snowboarding dreams. Now you’re selling one of the greatest lifestyles in the world.

Chris Klug:
So on my social media channels, and on my website, I really try to portray that, that yes, you’re buying this house, and this is the siding, this is the standing seam roof, and this is the window package and the white oak imported German wide plank flooring. But at the end of the day, do you realize that, that’s all open space beneath you, and you have incredible single track coming right out of your property, and maybe the Milton Ranch show you can ski or snowboard right back into your house. And so I think we try to share that lifestyle that you and I are so fortunate to live here, in all of our social media channels, that yes, you’re buying a home, or a condominium, or a second home, but you’re also buying into a lifestyle and access to, in all of these mountain communities, incredible culinary and cultural opportunities, and incredible access to the outdoors that I know, both you and I just value so much.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Indeed. And it’s one of the things I have to remind people who are going through a really stressful time, and they’re thinking about their glass being half empty and what they’re losing with their life as they know it, but there’s a new opportunity there, it’s to really get back to what makes you happy, and it’s those core values. But Chris, thank you very much for taking the time talking about real estate and divorce. Thanks again, and look forward to seeing you on the slopes.

Chris Klug:
You bet, Ryan. Love partnering with you, and thanks for this. It really reminds us of your attitude and the right approach to take when you’re dealing with some challenging situations. And so really appreciate partnering with you and having a good conversation. Thank you.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Couldn’t agree more. See you Chris.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Hey everyone. This is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. If you found our tips, insight, or discussion, helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast. For show notes, additional resources, or links mentioned on today’s episode, visit divorceataltitude.com. Follow us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and me at kalamaya.law, or (970)-315-2365. That’s K-A-L-A-M-A-Y-A.law.

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