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What do Walls, Russia and Millionaires have to do with Divorce?

By: Robyn Denson, Real Estate Broker, Home Base Washington Real Estate & Ken Levey, Attorney

Both “Russia” and “Walls” have been in the political news recently thanks to a certain millionaire.  I am pleased to bring you a story of two millionaires that connects the themes of “Russia” and “Walls”, and that is also pertinent to our discussion on divorce-related housing decisions.

When Sergey and Margarita Tsvitnenko failed to reach agreement about who should get the family mansion after their divorce, the Russian court ordered a cement wall constructed, splitting the home in half. The wall was built so quickly that Margarita’s friend was trapped in an upstairs bedroom because the only staircase leading there was on Sergey’s now inaccessible side of the home.

Margarita’s friend was later rescued by emergency personnel but it’s going to take a lot more than a ladder to remedy the mess the Tsvitnenko’s made of their 2 million dollar plus real estate investment.

This is yet another an example of when pride and emotions lead to less-than-ideal consequences for both parties. In the case of the Tsvitnenkos, the result of either party refusing to give in and move on means that the two:

  1. Are stuck living next to one another.
  2. Are faced with an ugly reminder, running down the center of their home, of their failed relationship.
  3. Will have to pay for house retrofits to make both sides usable (staircases, kitchens, front entrances, etc.)
  4. Ultimately will have to renovate the home back into a single family dwelling in order to sell it, costing more money and, worse, forcing the two to work together.

When both parties finally calm down, they will realize that they have greatly devalued their home and have made their financial and living situations worse than before.

If you are arguing with your spouse about who gets the family dwelling, try to take a step back and think rationally. Is your desire to have the house really about “winning” and getting one over on your ex? Try to think beyond today: in 3 or 5 years, does this home still make sense financially, location-wise and size-wise for you?

Hopefully after all that rational thought, one (or perhaps even both) of you will decide to move on and start fresh.  If that isn’t the case, I’d urge you to consider that although you want the home, if your ex wants it “that badly” as well, it places you in a good bargaining position in light of your overall asset split and other points of negotiation.

Don’t be like Sergey and Margarita.

Robyn Denson, a Real Estate Agent with Home Base Washington Real Estate (partnering with Better Properties Commencement Bay) assists individuals and families make the best housing decisions and negotiate the best housing deals.  Primarily focused on real estate in Pierce and Kitsap counties, Robyn is known for her high-energy and absolute dedication to clients.  For sellers, the fact that she comes from 20 plus years’ experience in marketing is a real bonus. For buyers, Robyn’s spirit of exploration and love for hunting out the absolute best properties for a buyer’s budget, translates into a tireless search for “just the right place”. Robyn also brokers commercial properties throughout the state of Washington. If you have questions about real estate, contact

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