Selling any home for whatever reason is not an easy task.
It usually involves completing a list of things such as making repairs, moving or selling off belongings, deep cleaning, staging your home, etc.
When you sell on behalf of your parents, either because they’re incapacitated or have passed, it’s a whole new territory.
Working through these intense emotions while considering how to sell your parent’s home is hard. But as far as the technical side of things, we can walk you through the process step-by-step.
What to do before you can sell your parent’s house
The first steps you take will depend on the situation you’re in. One common scenario where the child sells the parent’s home is obviously if they pass away.
But you may still want to sell while they’re alive. Perhaps they’re not in a condition to do so themselves or they’re moving to assisted living. Let’s break down the different circumstances.
Your parents are alive but incapacitated
After your parents move out of their home into a nursing home or a child’s home, the next question should be, “How do I sell my parents’ home?”
It might take you a while to decide to sell, but once you do, the next step is to get power of attorney. This will be much easier for you if your parents can still make decisions.
You must apply for guardianship if your parents cannot provide a power of attorney. You can consult with a family attorney about getting legal representation, as guardianship laws vary from state to state.
Your parents have already passed
A parent’s death is one of the hardest things you will have to deal with as a human. It’s tougher to process all those emotions while actively thinking of how to sell your parents’ home.
How much time you’ll spend selling your parent’s house will depend on how your parents passed the home to you. There are three primary ways to inherit a house from your parents:
- The probate process
- Death deed transfer
- Living trust
The probate process
Probate is a given if your parents didn’t leave a will.
Probate is a court-supervised process that oversees the dispensation of your parents’ entire estate—including the sale of the house.
While probate laws differ from state to state, the process can take from a few months to two years.
Death deed transfer
The second way is the death deed transfer, also known as a beneficiary deed. This deed lets you inherit the property directly and immediately without probate’s time, hassle, and expenses.
However, this inheritance type is only valid in certain states, and the laws governing it can vary from state to state.
The final way to get your parent’s home is if you’ve inherited it via a living trust. If you inherit property with a living trust, you can bypass probate, avoid some estate taxes, and set yourself up to sell the home immediately.
Steps to selling your parent’s house
Once you’ve gained the right to sell the property, however that happens, you can begin the selling process.
Step 1: Establish the status of your parent’s estate
Inheriting a house in real life differs from what happens in movies. When you inherit a house, the first thing to figure out is if it’s through the probate process, a death deed transfer, or a living trust.
Step 2: Continue paying the bills
The homeowner’s passing or moving doesn’t mean all bills will cease automatically. You’ll have to pay utilities if the property still uses electricity, water bills, garbage, landscaping, or cleaning.
As you prepare to sell the house, clear any outstanding balance and notify the service providers if you don’t need any service anymore.
You’ll also need to contact creditors and financial institutions to inform them about either your parent’s passing or move.
Step 3: Gather all the important documents
Paperwork is a necessary evil when settling your parent’s estate.
You’ll have to find all their important documents, such as wills, the home’s sales contract, maintenance records, capital improvement receipts, homeowner’s insurance documents, home appraisal, utility bills, Homeowners’ Association (HOA) records, and warranties.
Step 4: Secure the house
As the house sits vacant, it can become a target for burglars.
Apart from maintaining the home insurance policy, you might also want to take the following steps to secure the house:
- Change the locks
- Change mail delivery address
- Install a home security system
- Update Insurance
- Destroy anything with personal information to prevent identity theft
Step 5: Get the home ready to sell
Every other step has been to get you to this point: Getting your parent’s house ready for sale.
The two things you can do at this stage are to clean out your parent’s items and complete some home improvement. Cleaning the home includes sorting what has sentimental or intrinsic value to you or any family member.
Renovations and repairs can help increase the value of the home when you list it.
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you could make these home improvements or hire the specific contractor needed. It’s usually recommended to hire professionals for major jobs such as electrical, HVAC, or plumbing.
Step 6: Get a real estate agent or sell independently
Your next step should be to hire a real estate agent or decide to sell your parent’s house independently.
As of 2020, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports that for sale by owner (FSBO) home sales accounted for 8% of homes sold.
An informed real estate agent can make all the difference in knowing how to sell your parents’ home. Above all, families should ask, “How much experience do you have selling inherited homes?”
If you sell independently, ensure you’re prepared to look at it as a business transaction. Separate your emotions from the transaction and the house, however difficult.
Get closure immediately by connecting with Simple Home Offer
Figuring how to sell your parents’ home is not easy. It’s always a difficult step emotionally, especially when they are deceased.
That’s why Simple Home Offer is here to help.
If you’re looking to sell your parent’s house without the headaches of cleaning it out, renovating, paying bills and listing it with an agent, reach out to us to learn how we can help.
Photo by MART PRODUCTION