One of the hardest things in life for us to come to grips with is that our parents have advanced into old age. My wife and I are dealing with a parent’s home and how to handle things in the near future now. It’s tough emotionally for everyone involved.
At some point in the not-too distant future, they will leave the home, whether through death or hospitalization. Then, it’s up to you to dispose of their belongings and the home.
Depending on family dynamics, selling a parent’s home can very easily be a situation fraught with potential problems.
Let’s look at some tips to make it easier.
Get it on the market as quickly as possible
There are several reasons this is easier said than done, and we’ll get into some of those below, but the longer the house sits unoccupied, the more carrying charges you’ll incur, such as property taxes, utility bills and vacant home insurance.
Get a head start
You won’t be able to obtain clear title on the property until a personal representative is appointed and is given the documents required to dispose of real property. While you wait, however, you can save time by making repairs and interviewing real estate agents.
Check out the home’s mechanicals
Elderly homeowners often can’t keep up with routine home maintenance, and the last thing you need during the sale process is a costly surprise, such as faulty heating or plumbing.
Be ready to dispose of stuff
Your parents likely will have accumulated many things over the years. Hopefully, they won’t have been hoarders, but even so, you’ll have plenty of things that neither you nor your siblings want.
It could be outdated furniture or your dad’s dragon collection. Every member of the family with an interest in the home should be involved in the sorting and disposal process.
It can be very sad to toss out things that meant so much to our parents and some family members may take it harder than others.
If you grew up in the home, bring tissues
Nothing we say will prepare you for the emotions you’ll feel when all is said and done and you close and lock the door to the family home for the last time.
Feel free to ask your listing agent for copies of the listing photos to keep as mementos. You may also want to take some of your own to remember special parts of the property that mean a lot to you.
Trust your real estate agent to list the home at its market value
Heirs often have dollar signs in their eyes and want to set the asking price too high, which can lead to the house staying on the market much longer, increasing those carrying costs.
Ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the asking price and how far everyone is willing to negotiate on price. This will save time during the process.
Don’t DIY it
As tempted as you might be to make money from the sale, especially if you have several siblings to divide it up amongst, let professionals help you. Surround yourself with experts, especially if you hope to make any money from the situation.
If you’re the estate’s personal representative, hire a probate lawyer to help with the many filings the court will require, and hire an experienced real estate agent. An agent is especially essential if you and your siblings live out of town and can’t be there to hire people to clean out the home and fix it up.
Give the home a nip and tuck
Although your parent’s home may be dated, place limits on the money you spend to fix it up. Giving the kitchen a total makeover, for instance, probably isn’t worth the cost involved.
But it will pay off to clean thoroughly, paint the walls and remove old carpeting throughout the house, especially if there are hardwood floors underneath.
We’re happy to help in any way we can. Feel free to contact us if you need suggestions on how to ready the home for the market and for a free determination of its current market value.
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