Inheriting a property from your parents could be a lovely gift, but comes with a lot of emotional weight. It may be the home you grew up in, or it may be filled with decades worth of precious memories, making it difficult to manage the coming steps.
Selling an inherited house is just one of the many options you have. While you could move in or rent it out, most people prefer to release the equity.
The process of selling an inherited house is slightly different from that of selling your own. This guide is designed to walk you through the process and answer some of the more glaring questions you might have.
Knowing the Home’s Value
Regardless of how you wish to proceed with selling the inherited house, you first need to know its current value. The easiest way to do this, of course, is with a valuation from a local realtor.
Many factors can impact a home’s value, including its condition and the local housing market. An experienced local realtor can identify any concerns and provide advice on what to do next.
When choosing a realtor, consider finding a senior real estate specialist (SRES.) A real estate agent with an SRES designation is more highly qualified to handle matters that relate to inherited properties.
Selling an Inherited House with a Mortgage
If you’re selling an inherited house with an outstanding mortgage, unless the mortgage is more than what the market value of the home is, it shouldn’t have too much of an impact on how you proceed. The most likely scenario is that the mortgage will be paid off when you sell the property.
However, some mortgage clauses (such as a reverse mortgage) might state a deadline by which the remaining balance must be paid. It’s a common condition when the mortgage balance transfers to a family member upon the owner’s death. In this situation, you’ll want to sell the property within the allotted time frame or be prepared to pay the monthly balance with your own money.
The easiest thing to do is to check with your parents’ mortgage provider. You’ll need to notify them of your parents’ passing anyway unless a lawyer has already done so. Either way, someone (usually the owner’s children) will have to take on responsibility for the mortgage.
Selling an Inherited House without a Mortgage
Selling an inherited house without a mortgage is considerably easier.
It doesn’t matter whether your parents paid it off during their lifetime or whether their estate paid it off. Either way, if there’s no mortgage, you own the property outright and can do with it what you like.
Be sure to check whether there are any remaining debts against the property, such as property tax, unpaid bills, or liens. You should be able to find out about these while dealing with the rest of the administrative work related to your parents’ passing.
If there are any debts remaining, it should be possible to repay them with profits from selling the property, but arrange this with any creditors in advance.
How Many Stakeholders are Involved?
A stakeholder refers to anyone who has a financial interest in the inherited property you’re selling. For example, this could be you and your siblings or any other family members named in your parents’ will.
It’s important to ensure everyone is onboard will selling the inherited property otherwise you could be up against long and expensive legal proceedings. Make sure everyone comes to an agreement on both what to do with the property and how to split any profits from the sale of the house. It could be beneficial here to have any agreement in writing and with signatures.
Preparing the Home for Sale
Whether you own the property outright or have a mortgage to repay, you’ll want to get the most money possible for your new estate. Therefore, it makes sense to get the house ready for sale as you would for any other property.
- Distributing furniture and household items
- Repairing and improving the house
- Tidying the yard and outside areas
- Staging and photographing
In dealing with furniture and other physical goods, you might have to wait until the estate has gone through probate. The executor of the will (which might be you) distributes assets according to the will, including real estate. Be sure to check with a lawyer or whoever is responsible for the will before selling or keeping any items.
If you live out of state (or, if this process is too overwhelming), it may be beneficial to arrange local contractors to complete these preparations on your behalf. This is where having a qualified SRES would come in handy as they can determine what tasks need to be completed, arrange the necessary contractors and take all the guesswork out of preparing the home for sale.
Selling an Inherited Property Yourself vs. Through a Real Estate Agent
It’s tempting to consider selling an inherited home yourself. But, bear in mind that selling any property can be stressful, and selling an inherited property comes with extra emotional weight. While going through the process of grief, you may not wish to add on managing a home sale or learning about the legalities of real estate.
Hiring a realtor can ensure that the process goes smoothly and that you are covered legally. A realtor can advocate for your best interest when it comes time to negotiate and provide emotional support during this difficult process.
Selling an inherited property can be a long and difficult process, particularly while coping with the loss of a parent. If you decide to sell an inherited home and don’t want to do it alone, contact My Total Move. We are senior real estate professionals with experience selling inherited properties in Michigan on behalf of our clients.