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Selling the Home of a Deceased Family Member

Edie Israel

After years of executive sales and marketing experience as well as entrepreneurial success, Edie entered into the real estate market of Southern Calif...

After years of executive sales and marketing experience as well as entrepreneurial success, Edie entered into the real estate market of Southern Calif...

Oct 29 4 minutes read


Selling the home of a deceased family member can be a painful emotional endeavor, and it can also become a legal nightmare if you aren’t careful.

Selling the Home of a Deceased Family Member


While an attorney can help you navigate the legal aspects of selling the property, a local Realtor® can guide you through the challenges of preparing the home for sale and handling the disposition of your loved one’s personal belongings.


The Complex Legal Factors Involved with Selling the Home


The correct way to go about selling a deceased family member’s home depends on the circumstances of their estate. For example, did they have a will, and if so, who is designated as the administrator or executor? Who are the heirs?  Does the home have a mortgage, and if so, how does that mortgage amount compare to the value of the property?


Before you do anything, consult with an estate lawyer or real estate attorney to figure out the complex legal details. Transferring title to the property to you or another family member could obligate you to pay certain debts or create a taxable event.


Once your attorney provides you with the information you need to proceed with the sale, contact a licensed Realtor® in the local market to prepare the home for sale and complete the necessary listing agreement paperwork. However, before the listing goes active on the MLS, your agent may recommend that you take certain steps to ensure the best possible selling price.


How Should You Prepare the Deceased Person’s Home for Sale?


Your Realtor® will spend time walking the property with you and provide an opinion of the home’s market value as it sits. You can then decide if you want to take any steps to potentially improve the home’s value before putting it on the market. 


For example, if your loved one had ignored necessary home repairs or routine maintenance, investing a little time and money may help fetch a better sale price. This might include putting a fresh coat of paint on the outside or pulling up old, worn carpet inside. 


In many cases, a quick landscape update and a good cleaning can be enough to make the house attractive to a wide range of buyers. However, if you simply don’t want to expend any effort in spiffing the place up, it may be attractive to flippers who will come in and renovate the home and sell it at a higher price.


Whichever direction you choose to go, the one task you can’t avoid is cleaning out the deceased’s personal possessions.


What Should You Do with Personal Property when Selling the Home?


Perhaps the most difficult part of dealing with a loved one’s home is deciding what to do with all their stuff. Chances are the house is a mishmash of household items, paperwork, personal mementos and furnishings. 


The fastest and easiest method is to go room by room and collect paperwork and personal items that you wouldn’t want to put in an estate sale. Box it all up and go through it later — otherwise, you could be at this task for days or weeks. 


Ask your Realtor® to recommend a local estate sale or auction firm to handle the rest. Your agent will likely suggest you liquidate the contents of the home before listing it, as this will help facilitate the sale. 


If you’re faced with this challenging task in the Yorba Linda area, contact the Edie Israel Team of professional Realtors®. Our experienced, compassionate staff can help you through the entire process and put you in touch with the resources you need. Contact us today to learn how we can help you with the process of selling the home of a deceased family member. 

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