Maplewood Real Estate South Orange

Divorce: How SOMA Families Address Challenging Real Estate Questions

Avalon Maplewood
Avalon Bay Maplewood at 200 Boyden Avenue. (Photo by Donny Levit)

Divorce is emotional. Divorce is personal. Divorce involves complicated logistics that can easily overwhelm those involved.

Because Maplewood and South Orange are deeply family-oriented, residents going through divorce are faced with making difficult decisions involving their homes and the future of how and where parents and children will live. Addressing real estate quickly becomes a top priority.

Vanessa Pollock, who heads up the Vanessa Pollock team at Keller Williams Midtown Direct Realty, has worked as a realtor in our towns for over 11 years. She and her team have helped neighbors handle these difficult situations.

“I’m an only child of divorced parents and I come at it from my own experience,” said Pollock. “Parents make decisions based on their children’s needs. But the financial piece of the decision is huge as far as what the family can afford.”

According to Pollock, one trend involves keeping the family home in order to have children remain in a familiar space. Often referred to as “nesting-in-place” or “bird nest parenting,” parents rent a smaller house or apartment and then take turns living in the family home with their kids. Sometimes, the divorced couple decides they need two small rentals to keep their lives separate. “I’ve heard many people say that it can be weird to share that [rental] space together,” she added.

Families sometimes choose to sell their larger home and buy two smaller homes. “Our towns are unique because we live in such walkable villages. Ideally, children would have a short walk and be able to go back and forth” said Pollock. “If our client wants that, we try to make it happen.”

Vanessa Pollock team
(L-R) Vanessa Pollock, Steve Hogle and Carrie Schwartz of the Vanessa Pollock Team of Keller Williams Midtown Direct Realty. (Photo courtesy of the Vanessa Pollock team)

Pollock explained that living in new apartment complexes such as 3rd & Valley and Avalon Maplewood has become a trend. “We’ve seen parents rent in the same apartment complex — sometimes even within the same building — so that the children can float back and forth between two apartments,” she said. “And the common areas offer Wi-Fi and rec rooms which allows kids to hang out with their friends.”

Of course, there are other options based on the unique needs of each family and relationship. “There’s one couple we met with who ultimately decided that they were not going to sell their house,” said Pollock. “They were divorcing but continued to live in that home with a new clarity in a healthy way. They decided that while they were not meant to be married, they were still good friends and were able to postpone selling their house.”

When we asked Pollock how clients speak to her about these very personal issues, she says that privacy is vital. “I treat everyone with what we call doctor/patient confidentiality,” she said. “No one in town will hear about it unless the client chooses to share the information. It’s grounds for termination if someone in my group has breached the client’s confidence.”

In our discussion, Pollock highlighted that sharing difficult life events with others is a tremendous challenge. “We tend not to say the hard things — especially on social media,” she remarked. “I’ve been really fortunate that when people can approach me, I quickly explain that I’m a child of divorce. Families are there for the rest of your lives whether you’re married or not. People will need to navigate every holiday. I try to use my personal family experience. People are transferring into a new season of their relationship.”

Third & Valley
Third & Valley Apartments at 153 Valley Street in South Orange. (Photo by Donny Levit)

How about when a divorcing couple is without children? Pollock explained that those situations tend to play out differently. “Couples will sell their house and buy separate homes. One or even both may move to different towns and start brand new,” she said.

Pollock explained that her priority is to focus on her clients’ best interests. “‘Care, Serve and Give’ are the core values of our team,” she said. “We don’t have counseling degrees, but we think about the best possible financial and housing solutions for our clients.”

“People who may be thinking about separating may be reading this article,” added Pollock. “I truly hope this advice has been helpful because I personally know how hard this is.”

Vanessa Pollock can be reached at 973-544-8484 (direct) or 973-762-5400 (office) or via email at [email protected]. Visit the Vanessa Pollock Team of Keller Williams Midtown Direct Realty website at

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