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Black Brick launches specialist service for the divorce market


Award winning independent buying agency, Black Brick has launched a specialist service for the divorce market, which provides independent guidance to individuals who are going through marital breakdown.

The highly experienced team is providing advice on the market, areas and pricing and specialised property tours to help educate clients and prepare them for court. The company is also providing information on the cost of running a home and giving advice on the existing marital home such as pricing and a sales strategy. Black Brick’s dedicated rental Search Service is also available for those who need short term accommodation whilst going through divorce.
The launch of the new service follows the agency reporting a growing trend from wealthy individuals who are seeking assistance when getting divorced with many requiring independent, impartial property advice in addition to divorce financing.
Camilla Dell, Managing Partner at Black Brick, says: “It is often assumed that buying agents are only there when people are looking to purchase a property, however, our services can prove invaluable to clients when going through divorce and as a result we took the decision to launch a new service which caters to this specific market. Divorce is rarely talked about, it’s still a real taboo subject and as such many people don’t realise that there is a range of specialist advisors who can help at what is often a very stressful and highly emotional time. At Black Brick we have noticed a growing demand for impartial advice and as such we have assisted on a number of high profile divorce cases. The result is a much fairer divorce settlement.
“We recently worked with a client, charging a flat fee to take them on specialist tours to show them what GBP10 million, GBP15 million, GBP20 million all the way up to GBP50 million buys you in Central London. We also spent time educating the client on what the running costs are for homes in each price range. The time spent with the client greatly assisted her in court.”
Black Brick advises that there is often one half of a couple who takes responsibility for household finances leaving the other half with limited knowledge in a divorce situation.
Dell adds: “There is a whole suite of advisors who can help, but they are very much under the radar. When a person attends a divorce hearing armed with detailed information and evidence on the market, and crucially advice that they have paid for, this can support the settlement figures they are proposing. This makes things much more straightforward for the judge when making a decision.”
With London regarded as the ‘divorce capital of the world’, many high net worth individuals choose the Capital for the ruling of their divorce. In October 2017, Princess Tessy of Luxembourg chose London for their divorce and in February 2018, Tatiana Akhmedova won a GBP453 million payout – a 41.5 per cent share of Farkhad Akhmedov’s GBP1 billion-plus fortune, a ruling which would not have won such a high payout abroad, according to experts. Dell adds: “London has become known as the divorce capital of the world, which is due to English court judges taking a different view when compared with foreign counterparts.”
Caspar Harvard Walls, Partner at Black Brick, says: “Many people focus on the financial settlement and how much money people are awarded. However, to get to that point, both parties need to have sense of the market before court proceedings take place.
“Working with an independent buying agent has benefits. Often if one party has a relationship with a mainstream estate agent there will be a distrust of any values given to the marital home for example. Black Brick can give a totally independent unbiased opinion. In addition, a judge can easily look through someone who has simply been out in the car with an estate agent looking at properties, rather than having proper advice on what properties cost. 
“Getting divorced can be a traumatic and overwhelming experience and therefore it is so important to seek advice from trusted advisors who can provide knowledge and a confidential, discreet service.”
Kate Bright from UMBRA International says: “We’ve seen a marked rise in the number of clients, particularly female, using UMBRA Secure Lifestyle assistance pre, during and post divorce. We advise clients on all areas of insecurity: from physical and cyber security breaches and concerns, through to supporting the relocation process, re-establishing a personal & professional network and providing secure travel advice for them and their children, all done with the emphasis on discretion.
“Our clients find this particularly useful where they have not had to manage their own lives in the past or even travel alone, and so may have lost confidence. It is also vital reassurance and support during this stressful and emotional time to help rebuild a new life and identity. Secure Lifestyle support at early stages and working closely alongside family law specialists during the litigation process, also has the added benefit of helping clients negotiate the process better – from settlement to property purchase – where there is more clarity about life post settlement.”
Charmaine Hast, Partner, Head of Family Department Wedlake Bell LLP: “In the stressful environment of divorce, my experience of the client having the assistance of independent impartial advice is crucial.  One must not forget that a property purchase for a lot of clients is a large investment and in the majority of the cases the client wants to enjoy this large investment.
“During divorce, the client does not need the influence of a selling agent when buying or selling but someone who is able to guide them with expertise that neither a solicitor, nor their independent financial advisor is capable of advising on.
“What parties in the divorce process forget is that it is not just the property they end up purchasing which is important, but the inclusion in the court papers of appropriate properties with the necessary features both in price, size, character and location, that will persuade a judge on the starting point of the divorce financial judgment, which in England and Wales is housing.”
Tracey Reddings, Managing Director at Julius Baer, says: “Having a coordinated approach linking property and financial investment solutions for individuals going through divorce can be invaluable. We often work with clients whose funds are tied up in property which sometimes leaves them asset-rich and cash poor. This can be problematic when it comes to paying for legal fees and living expenses. On a case by case basis we are therefore able to work with our clients to provide solutions such as a loan ahead of settlement. This can help to provide them with access to the right type of advice and peace of mind.”
Between January 2017 and January 2018, Black Brick reported that 10 per cent of its transactions were from sellers who were getting divorced. The average transaction size of properties acquired was a staggering GBP36.5 million. Often these properties will not be on the open market, but the sellers have a real reason to sell and so good discounts can be achieved on often rare to market trophy assets. 

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