When a loved one dies and leaves behind a piece of property to be inherited by their heirs, it can result in a complex and emotionally fraught situation for all involved. Perhaps the property comes with a lot of emotional baggage or unpleasant memories. Perhaps it simply costs too much to maintain. For these and many other potential reasons, inherited homes often wind up being offered for sale, and the process can be complicated.
That’s even more true if multiple individuals inherit the home. It’s extremely common for the heirs in this situation to hold some strong opinions about what should be done with the property, and more likely than not, those opinions will conflict with each other. Unless one individual has the available funding to buy out all the other owners, the most common solution is to sell the property to an outside third party and split the proceeds among the heirs.
Knowing what to expect when you’re selling an inherited home for several heirs or new owners can help simplify the process and get you to a successful closing at a competitive price.
Find Out How You Inherited the Property
When can you sell the property? Generally, the answer will depend on the mechanism through which you and the other owners came to own. Probate is the lengthiest and most complicated option, as it requires entering a will into a probate court’s jurisdiction and having it probated. This process is designed to protect the rights of creditors of the deceased person’s estate, as well as the property they left behind.
If the property was not given to you and the other heirs through a will, it probably came to you through a beneficiary deed (sometimes called a “transfer on death” deed) or through a living trust. Either of these methods will enable you to get the property on the market and close with a new purchaser more quickly, since there’s no need for a lengthy court process.
Declutter and Spruce Up the Home and Landscaping
Once the home is cleared of personal property that you or others intend to keep, enlist everyone to come in and help declutter the property to prepare it for some light upgrades and staging work. There’s no need to do any high-cost or labor-intensive renovation work. In fact, it’s usually not worth your time, energy, or money, as they won’t increase the sales price substantially enough to warrant the investment.
Instead, aim to create a neutral but aesthetically pleasing space. The goal is to emulate a well-staged model home that can act as a flexible backdrop against which potential purchasers can project their own tastes and styles. Give the interior walls a fresh coat of paint in a low-key neutral shade. Repair any visible flaws such as loose outlet plates or scratches or holes in the drywall. And don’t forget the property’s landscaping—mow the grass, trim back the bushes and overhanging tree limbs, and add some bright flowers if you can.
This can all get overwhelming, especially if you and others are located in other states and are trying to sell the home long-distance. One of the best resources you can enlist in this situation is an experienced realtor who can help you decide exactly which improvements to make and how much to spend.
Think About Selling the Home for Cash
It can take a long time to sell a home the usual, traditional way. Staging the home, taking professional-grade photos, marketing the property, and managing open houses and showings (or virtual tours) can mean it’ll be months before you can close on a sale. And all that time, you and the other heirs will be fully responsible for all the costs associated with the property, from insurance to mortgage payments to utilities and maintenance costs.
What can you do to lessen that burden and close on the home more quickly? Many owners of inherited properties find that an as-is cash sale is the right solution. Home investors or investment companies can afford to pay the entire sales price in cash which means no one needs to wait around while you negotiate repairs and the buyer secures financing. You’ll have to be comfortable accepting a discounted price, but you’ll save yourselves those added carrying costs, which might more than offset the price differential.