Simplifying the Process of Selling a Home, Estate, and Other Inherited Property
With so much going on around us almost all the time, even a minor shift in our world can throw us off guard—especially when what has changed is outside of our control. That’s what a death in the family or the loss of a friend or business partner can do. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been expecting a loved one to pass on or if the change was sudden, surprising, and disappointing. The death of someone you care about is destabilizing.
If you’ve also inherited property from the deceased, it can feel like you’ve been tasked with more responsibilities than you’re ready to handle. In California, estates worth more than $150,000—often the case when the property is involved—need to go through probate, which can be lengthy. Even without probate, there’s a 40-day waiting period to contend with to transfer personal property before you can even think of selling it.
You’ve got a job to get back to, kids to take care of, and a home of your own that needs your attention. You’ve also got to make time for yourself to grieve and simply adjust to your new reality. Of course, it couldn’t be any other way: you are the right person to handle the departed’s estate.
But when selling a home, estate, and other inherited property is the right thing to do, you know you could be facing an uphill battle. Selling any house is often not an easy or efficient process. And to get through this as gracefully as possible, you need it to be both easy and efficient.
There are things you can do to positively shift the experience of selling the house. The process itself can be made more efficient and, in a few steps, you can even arrange for the sale to happen fast.
Efficiently Selling a Home or Estate You’ve Inherited
The upside is that, for the most part, selling a house after the death of a parent, spouse, or other loved one is not too dissimilar from selling a home you’ve lived in for years. Unfortunately, that is also the downside. Considered to be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life—even under joyous circumstances—the process of selling a home puts even the best of us on edge.
The good news is that there are things you can do to positively shift the experience of selling the house. The process itself can be made more efficient and, in a few steps, you can even arrange for the sale to happen fast—especially when you have everything you need to do in front of you. Let’s take a look at the steps you should take:
1. Gather and organize all paperwork related to the house.
If probate is required on the property, the executor is usually responsible for this step. If that’s the case, it’s possible that all paperwork related to the house has already been gathered and organized. Of course, it’s not guaranteed. And, either way, it will still be in your best interest to confirm that you have every document you could possibly need to effectively, and legally, sell the home. So, make sure you have the following:
- Loan documents, including proof of payments
- Original sale agreement
- Property deed
- Title insurance
- Recent property tax assessment and paid invoices
- Proof of homeowner’s insurance
- Home warranty information
Keep in mind, too, that the law in California that governs selling a house after someone dies can make property inheritance complex, even if there is a clear will in place. If the decedent was married, that property automatically goes to their spouse. If they owned the property with someone else, that joint tenant inherits that property—even if they try to leave it to someone else in their will. If that person died without a will, you’ll have to deal with the complexity of intestate succession, which can result in the property being left to multiple people in equal shares.
The law in California that governs selling a house after someone dies can make property inheritance complex, even if there is a clear will in place.
2. Prepare the home to sell.
In all likelihood, you will have to do some work to prepare the house to sell. The extent of that work will depend on the condition the house is in, of course. But because traditional buyers usually want a move-in-ready home—preferably one in which they can imagine creating a new life—you should plan on cleaning and decluttering the house, at least.
Here’s a more detailed list of what you may want to do:
- Remove and store everything that you, family members, and friends are keeping—from furniture to pictures and other mementos
- Sell or donate all other items that are in good shape
- Clear out the trash and have it hauled away from the premises
- Clean the house inside and out—or hire a service to do it for you
- Have an inspector examine the property and provide estimates for repairs
- Contract professionals to perform the renovation, especially if there are significant issues—with the foundation, for example—that could impede the sale
- Do minor upgrades, such as tightening cabinetry and replacing window coverings yourself
- Improve the home’s curb appeal with tasks such as landscaping the yard and repainting the exterior of the house
- Stage the home so that it appeals to the neighborhood’s buying demographic by hiring a professional stager with access to modern furniture
3. Pay all financial obligations associated with the home.
There can be any number of financial obligations tied to the home that may become your responsibility to keep current or pay off—whether or not the deceased also left you enough funds to handle these costs. Since ignoring them may prevent you from selling the home to a new owner, it’s better to face these obligations head-on. For example, you may be obligated to handle:
- Current and late mortgage payments
- Current and late utility bills
- Current and late service invoices, such as for pool maintenance
- Unpaid property taxes
- Outstanding liens
- HOA fees
Ideally, by gathering and organizing all of the paperwork related to the house, you will have uncovered the existence of any of these debts. If not—or if you’re not sure—take the time to make a few phone calls so that you aren’t hit with surprise expenses when you try to sell.
Ignoring financial obligations may prevent you from selling the home to a new owner; so, it’s better to face these obligations head-on.
4. Enlist the help of a real estate agent.
Rather than taking on the burden of selling the property yourself, consider enlisting the help of a real estate agent. Marketing a home can be both costly and time-consuming, not to mention ineffective if you don’t have the resources to reach the right buyers. Hiring a real estate agent will still cost you, of course—up to 6% of the home’s selling price paid to the agent as a commission. But, without their help, you could be responsible for the following:
- Calculating the correct list price based on homes comparable in size, style, age, and condition that have recently sold in your area
- Marketing the house in online forums such as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), in newspapers, and in your yard, with signs you’ll have to buy
- Answer all inquiries at all times of day
- Show the home to potential buyers as well as hold weekend open houses
- Negotiate with interested buyers once you start getting offers
- File the correct paperwork to make the sale legal
An easy way to avoid paying a commission to a real estate agent (and spending money and time on marketing the home yourself) is to sell directly to a buyer. And if you sell directly to a buyer who can take your home as-is, you won’t have to clean, perform any repairs, stage the house, or do much of anything else to prepare for the sale. You may not have to worry about researching any debts attached to the home, either, since most as-is buyers can find that information themselves. There is even one buyer who will tell you to simply point to what you want and let them handle the rest; then, they’ll pay you in all cash so you can get on with your life.
One Cash Buyer May Be All You Need
In some ways, selling a home, estate, or other inherited property is simply not going to be easy. The emotional roller coaster you, your family, and friends may find yourselves on will, at times, feel like a ride you just want to end. The home buying specialists at Sell Your House Direct understand this. With years of experience helping California homeowners unload properties that feel more like a burden than a blessing for a variety of reasons, they’ve seen and heard it all. As a result, SYHD has made it its mission to treat every client with a great deal of compassion.
They’ve also made it their responsibility to make selling any home as easy as it can possibly be. From taking a home as-is and paying all cash to close during the timeline that works best for you, SYHD wants every step of the selling experience to be a positive one. It starts with the first call, too. Not only will you receive a no-obligation all-cash offer (even on a home filled with furniture or that has HOA fees due), but you’ll also get support from the team throughout the process. Working with SYHD may be as easy as this situation gets. It’s certainly worth a few minutes to find out.
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