Selling the Home of a Deceased Relative - Articles - OpenAgent

Selling the Home of a Deceased Relative

Losing a close relative or friend is always a traumatic event to endure, and dealing with the deceased’s estate – although a necessity – can add to your suffering. Whether you have been bequeathed a property yourself or made responsible for its sale, you may need to sell it on quickly and for the best price possible. There are a number of simple steps you can take to ensure the whole process is as quick and painless as possible.

Get the locks changed

It is almost impossible to be sure that your relative didn’t give keys to friends, other relatives, delivery workers and anyone who needed access to the property. It may be a good idea to change all the locks to the house immediately; then you can be sure that you are the only person with a key. You can take charge of exactly who has access to the property, including cleaners, home staging professionals and your real estate agent.

Have mail forwarded

Arrange for the deceased’s mail to be forwarded to your own address for the foreseeable future. This will allow you to tie up any outstanding matters pertaining to the property, such as water charges, council rates and mortgage repayments. Forwarding mail will also mean you can let friends and family know of the death when their mail arrives.

Gather important documentation

If you are in charge of the deceased’s estate, you will need to attend to financial matters as quickly as possible. You should look for the following documents and ensure they are dealt with accordingly:

  • Rates notices and statements
  • Creditor letters
  • Bank account information
  • Home insurance – you will need to contact the provider to inform them of the death and arrange cover accordingly
  • Any documentation relating to ownership or maintenance of the home
  • Mortgage statements

Of course, all of these documents may already be in the hands of a solicitor, but the responsibility to attend to any outstanding issues may fall upon you as you worth through the sale of the property.

Maintain payments

Many mortgages are issued with the condition that adequate life insurance is in place, which will pay off the mortgage upon death. However, this doesn’t always happen automatically or right away. You may need to call the bank or mortgage company to inform them of the change in ownership status, and you may also need to maintain repayments until the matter is resolved. If you are the new legal owner of the property, you will also need to stay up to date with council and water rates. These issues can be time consuming, stressful and costly, so securing a quick sale if you don’t intend to keep the house is absolutely essential.

Hire a real estate agent

Particularly if you live some distance from the property, you will need a real estate agent who can be trusted. As this will not be the property you live in, you will need your chosen agent to take a proactive approach to a sale. For the best results, you will also need an agent who has specific experience in selling homes quickly – and remotely if that is the case. If you live in a completely different state, you need to know that you can trust your agent to represent your interests with integrity and professionalism.

The best way to find the agent who is right for you and the property is to compare several in the area using data on their previous sales history, as well as what their previous customers said about them. You need to do your research to be sure you are considering only the real estate agents who can secure a swift and successful outcome. If you are looking for a shortlist of real estate agents to interview, start searching here.

Preparing the house for sale

If you don’t intend on keeping the property, achieving a quick sale at a fair market price is essential. Holding onto the house for too long could cost you money, so it is essential that you and your real estate agent select a listing price that represents value and attracts the interest of buyers. Remember, if you sell the property via the private treaty route, the original listing price is just a guide. If you can instil competition between buyers, you can drive up the price. You can ensure real certainty in terms of timescale by selling at auction. This decision can be made with the help of your agent, and an appropriate marketing plan will be devised depending on the decision you make.

Getting your house ready for viewings may require some quick changes, repairs and cosmetic alterations. If at all possible, the best way to achieve a quick sale is to ensure that the property is ready to move into.

  • Remove old and tired furniture, and consider furnishing the property on a temporary basis with some modern and simple items
  • Remove personalised photos – you need to make the property warm yet neutral
  • Give the walls a lick of paint, and stick to neutral shades in order to appeal to the broadest range of buyers possible
  • Make the rooms in the property look as light and spacious as possible. Allow natural light to flow in by removing unnecessary drapes and curtains, and use electric lighting sensibly.
  • Attend to repairs such as leaky taps, wobbly doors, or lightbulbs that need replacing
  • Spruce up the gardens and the fascias of the property – first impressions are essential when seeking a quick sale
  • Consider hiring a professional cleaning company
  • Consider hiring the services of a professional staging company
  • Ensure your agent has access to the property at all times; this is particularly important if you live a considerable distance away
Read more about low cost ideas on how to prepare your property for the market here.

The longer your property stands vacant, the more it will cost you, and the less it will appear to prospective buyers. By working with an accomplished and experienced real estate agent, you can give yourself the best chance possible of a quick sale and a fair market price.

For the full OpenAgent Smart Sellers Guide, click this link here.

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