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Lakewood Ranch Realtor specializes in high-stress sales

Psychologist/Realtor Nicole Pies founds company Divorce Real Estate dedicated to people going through a divorce who want to buy or sell a home.

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Side of Ranch: Jay Heater
Side of Ranch: Jay Heater

Most people run from stress.

Country Club East's Nicole Pies is about to embrace it.

A Realtor with the Rogers Griffin Group of Sarasota, Pies has decided to launch Divorce Real Estate, calling it compassionate guidance for optimal results.

Granted, she has a doctorate from the University of Florida in psychology, but it does seem a formidable task.

"It's very volatile," Pies said about working with those going through a divorce. "You need to have empathy. Having gone through a divorce myself, I know you have to be patient. There are so many legal and financial issues. I want to be the person who helps them."

Personally, I've always said I never wanted to be a police officer or a doctor. Those are tough jobs where you have the potential to be seeing people at their worst. I'm glad we have people willing to take it on.

It's the same, in my eyes, as Pies' new job. To me, dealing with those going through a divorce is like looking through the window at the asphalt on a 100-degree day. You know it's boiling, but you go out there and walk barefoot on it anyway.

I'm not alone. Pies' fiancé is Mike Griffin of the Rogers Griffin Group. I asked him if Pies finds a tremendous niche in the business, would he consider dealing exclusively with those going through a divorce.

"No, no, no," he said, shaking his head and laughing.

Pies, though, said her background and education in psychology makes it a perfect fit.

"My interpersonal skills are honed," she said. "I am naturally good with emotional clients. You know, 50% of individuals who are going through a divorce do not sell with first agent. They are two individuals who are at odds. There is displaced anger. You have to have thick skin."

It was 18 months ago when Pies decided to change her career path. She was a licensed psychologist and school psychologist.

She quickly passed the necessary exams and began to work as a Realtor. One of her clients knew her background, and going through a divorce, wondered if Pies could help. 

"Home buying and selling is very stressful on its own," Pies said. "This was a place where I could step in, given my background."

All Realtors have likely dealt with those going through a divorce so it is not uncharted territory. It's just that Pies feels uniquely qualified to deal with the situation.

"What I have seen is the deescalation of emotion and stress," Griffin said of Pies when she works with those in a divorce. "You see as a difference of opinion arises, temperatures rise and it gets more emotional. We will have this high stress situation, and then Nicole gets involved. She deflates everything by staying calm and presenting an objective opinion. Her end goal is the best outcome for the clients, whether that means selling a house or not."

Pies said the first step at working with a couple going through a divorce is to stay neutral. She said it is imperative to make both parties feel they are being understood. She admits it can be a tough place to be.

She remembered one of her first home sales with Griffin where they were both involved, primarily working with a wife who had to decide whether to stay in the home or sell. They had to decide what was the best course of action.

"That's the beauty of this," Pies said. "You might not get a sale out of it. But you could get three (that one sale and two home purchases if both parties are happy with the work)."

She is confident she can produce a positive outcome even in high-tension situations.

"What separates me is that I've been honing my conflict resolution skills most of my adult life," she said. "It's all about building trust. I think I make people feel understood. I have had a lot of training in restating back to someone what they are saying. You want to make sure they know what the other person is upset about. You try to stay focused on the end goal and keep a long-term perspective."

She said she has all her "ducks in a row" as she begins this new chapter of her life. Her phone number is 545-8812 for those who are interested in her services.

Pies said she has learned that in cases of divorce, the usual methods of home appraisal might not be as accurate. Sometimes the title is cloudy and many appraisals make assumptions about the condition of a home. That might not be accurate if the home isn't being maintained. 

Does Pies believe she won't take all those high-intensity sessions home with her? At home, Pies has three children — Grayden, 11; Wesley, 8; and Claire, 6.

"I am not going to lie and say I don't care," she said. "But I also have learned that it's not personal. That's where my training comes in."

She already has made connections with divorce attorneys who might mention her as a resource.

"There are individuals out there who can help things go smoothly," she said.

Besides the emotions, Pies said some clients might lack the confidence to know they can qualify for a new loan or whether they can afford to live alone. She wants to arm them with all the best information to help them make a decision.

"This is a small, growing niche, but it exists," Pies said. "You need to be honest, and to come up with a plan."



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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