The death of a relative is never easy for a family. Not only do you have to withstand the emotional pain and grief that comes when someone you love passes away, but you also have to deal with the real world details, like selling a deceased relatives property.
Inheriting a house can be an overwhelming prospect. Maybe you love the house, but you can’t afford to pay the outstanding mortgage. Or maybe the house you inherited stirs unpleasant memories. Or perhaps you inherited the house along with siblings or other relatives and need to sell it and split the money.
Selling a deceased relatives property is similar in many ways to selling any other home, but there are some extra considerations. The transaction can be complicated and includes a wide range of financial, legal, and market ramifications. Knowing how to address all the potential obstacles will make the process easier.
To make the process of selling a deceased relatives property easier we’re going to walk you through the process step-by-step.
Establish the Status of the Estate
Most adult children know they’ll be inheriting their parents’ or relatives’ home one day, but too few understand exactly how the house will pass into their hands. You need to know the steps your loved one took to give you ownership of the inherited property before you can even think about selling the house.
There are principally three ways to inherit a house: through the probate process, by a transfer on death deed, or via a living trust.
- Probate – Many people erroneously believe inheriting property is as simple as listening to an official reading of the will. In reality, real estate inherited via a will is usually subject to the long and complicated probate process. Probate is a court supervised process that oversees the dispensation of your relatives’ entire estate which includes selling the house. This is done so that the right people are granted the right to and responsibility for the estate, and so that your relatives’ debts get paid as part of the process. You should expect the probate process to take from several months up to a couple of years.
- Transfer on Death Deed – Also known as a beneficiary deed, this type of deed lets you inherit the property directly and immediately without the time, hassle and expense of probate. With this type of deed in place, you can proceed with the sale of your relatives’ home as soon as you’re ready. The laws governing these deeds vary from state to state and are not valid in all states.
- Living Trust – Selling a deceased relatives property is much easier if you’ve inherited it via a living trust. A living trust is a document designed to streamline the management and inheritance of all of their assets, including the house. The document names your relative as the trustee and you as the beneficiary. If you inherit property where there’s a living trust in place, you can bypass probate, avoid some estate taxes, and it sets you up to sell the home immediately.
Once all the probate paperwork related to ownership of the property has been approved by the judge you can proceed with getting the home ready for sale. It is wise have an attorney help you out during the probate process in order to make sure all steps are followed correctly.
Missing any of the critical steps with regard to the home transfer and you could be setting up the home sale for failure from the get go. If the deed cannot transfer or a title company won’t insure the title due to issues with the transfer, you will be stuck with the home and will be responsible for paying for the taxes, mortgage, and utilities until the home is sold.
Handle Inheritance Disagreements
To save yourself and your siblings’ time, money, and stress throughout the property sale process you’ll need to address potential points of conflict right away.
You’ll need to work out and agree on a host of details such as:
- Who’s responsible for preparing the property for sale
- Who’s paying for the property sale expenses
- How you’ll split the proceeds
- How much the house is worth
- Who will give the go ahead to accept an offer
You should try to figure out every heir’s duties during the settlement of the estate and come to an agreement on a fair division of the proceeds. If you can’t come to an agreement, you may need the help of a professional mediator.
Preparing the Property for Sale
The first step is to declutter the property. Decluttering a deceased loved one’s home is no easy job, but it’s necessary for obtaining a quick and successful sale. You can work with other heirs and family members, or hire a professional estate sale company to manage and promote an estate sale.
Once the property is empty you should spruce it up. Avoid major renovations, even if you have inherited a property that hasn’t been redecorated since the 1980s, and instead focus on light, cosmetic upgrades.
Here are some examples of easy, high-impact projects that can help you sell your inherited house faster:
- Boost the curb appeal with a professionally groomed lawn, new mulch, and a fresh coat of paint on the front door.
- Replace aged carpet and linoleum with vinyl wood flooring.
- Remove window valances, faux plants, furniture covers, and other dated details.
- Paint the walls in primary shared living areas a light, neutral color.
Selling A Deceased Relatives’ Property
As with selling any property there are three choices: work with a realtor, try to sell it yourself, or sell it fast for cash to an investor. Let’s review these three options.
Hire a Real Estate Agent
One way to circumvent inheritance disagreements is by hiring a real estate agent that all of the heirs both like and trust. The agent you choose should have actually completed transactions similar to your situation. Besides experience selling an inherited home, you’ll want to find a real estate agent who has both empathy and patience during this sensitive time. It’s not easy decluttering the property of a deceased loved one, and you’ll need a real estate agent who understands this. And finally, you’ll need a real estate agent who lives in the same city as your deceased relative. They will know the market and have an established network to call upon.
Sell it Yourself: For Sale by Owner (FSBO)
If you’re tempted to sell the property yourself, be aware that you’re taking on a huge task. Even before taking into account the grief of losing a loved one, a FSBO is difficult to do and entails a lot of work. Aside from decluttering the property and arranging for any necessary repair, as a FSBO seller you’re responsible for:
- Pricing the home – This includes researching neighborhood market trends and making an unbiased opinion of the home’s value. Pricing too high could result in the property sitting on the market for a long time, pricing too low could mean you could end up accepting a lower offer than if you listed at market value.
- Marketing the home – Without a real estate agent you won’t be able to list the home on the multiple listing service (MLS). You’ll be solely responsible for letting potential buyers know that the home is for sale.
- Negotiating with a buyer – After receiving an offer, you’ll have to negotiate terms, such as which party pays for closing costs and the settlement date.
- Filling out paperwork and disclosures – Home sale paperwork includes the purchase agreement, legal disclosures, and closing documents.
- Navigating the escrow and closing process – Depending on the terms of your purchase agreement, you may be required to handle a number of duties in a FSBO sale. This may include arranging a home or pest inspection and coordinating contractors for repairs
While selling the property yourself avoids having to pay agent commissions, it’s still likely that you won’t net as much money as you would selling with an agent. According to National Association of Realtors, FSBO homes typically sold for around 26% less than homes sold with an agent.
Sell the Inherited House Fast for Cash
Selling a deceased relatives property on the market takes significant time and labor (staging, marketing, negotiating, etc.). And until the property sells, heirs are responsible for the monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, and utility bills. If you’re looking to sell as quickly as possible, you can decide to skip the prep work, home repairs, and open houses by selling your house for cash to an investor like Black Girls Buy Houses. You may sell the property for less than if you worked with a traditional real estate agent, but since you won’t have to pay commissions, you may walk away with more cash in hand.
The process of working with a cash buyer can be faster, easier, and less stressful than selling a house on the market. That’s a big plus if you’re feeling overwhelmed by having to sell a deceased relatives property.
Black Girls Buy Houses will provide you with a no-obligation, all-cash offer for your property in nearly any condition, and you can close within a few weeks of accepting their offer. This means you can skip the repairs, staging, showing, and open houses that come with putting your home on the market.
If you, or someone you know, find themselves in the position of selling a deceased relatives property, we’d love to help. We pride ourselves on completing the transaction quickly and easily so you can get on with your life. Contact us anytime to learn more or to get a competitive cash offer!