Inheriting a home is not always an easy situation to deal with. Whether you inherited alone or share the inheritance of a family home with other close relatives. Unless the beneficiary plans to move in, the most likely next step is to sell the house to a new family. Emptying and preparing an inherited home for market requires a delicate yet efficient approach. You can give everyone a chance to say goodbye and claim their favorite keepsakes while also moving steadily toward getting the house to market before it has sat vacant for too long.
When the house is ready, it can become a warm and happy place again with a new family living it. However, getting through the process of selling an inherited home isn’t something you know how to do automatically. You will need to handle all estate matters, arrange for cleaning Here’s how to efficiently empty and prepare an inherited house for the market:
1) Read the Will
With any house inheritance, it’s important to heed the will and final intentions first. In many cases, the decedent will have a few specific wishes as to what is done with the home, or items inside the home. Always start by reading the will and understanding the final wishes of the deceased. They may even have already made arrangements to empty and sell the house that will simply need to be facilitated. In most cases, however, there will be only a few final concerns to take care of, followed by cleaning and staging the home for a new owner-resident.
Always try to abide by the decedent’s wishes first and foremost. The best way to do this is to read the will carefully and stay involve or up to date on the estate closing process. Usually, the executor will make sure that all special bequeathed items in the house are distributed to the rightful inheritor.
2) Take Sentimental Requests
Then there are the final sentimental wishes of friends and relatives. Your relatives likely already have an idea of which favorite keepsakes they want to retrieve from the house before anyone does a general cleanup. There will be meaningful pieces of furniture, old dishes, and other small items connected to precious memories that are worth preserving.
One of the best ways to make sure these sentimental items don’t get sold or donated is to take requests before you go in to sort and organize. Get descriptions of furniture, special necklaces, old childhood toys, and meaningful photographs that you’ll need to set aside to make sure everyone can save their favorite memories. Once you have the list, you can settle any conflicting claims, then either distribute items or let relatives come collect them on their own.
3) Bring Boxes, Tape, and Markers
It’s best to tackle the emptying of an inherited house with confidence and clearly labeled boxes. Come armed with a stack of cardboard, multi-colored tape, and markers. The tape colors are to indicate categories or priorities for boxes, and the markers to provide clear descriptive labels of what’s inside. This will make it easier for family to find and retrieve anything they want to save, from sentimental old sweaters to special holiday ornaments. Then you can quickly sort what you want to do with the remainder after that point. The more organized your pack-up, the better. The organization is often the key to getting through the difficult process of packing up the great many personal items — important and unimportant –that are left after someone is gone.
If you don’t have time for a big pack-up, then talk to a moving team about packing services. Most will be happy to not only handle the pack-up, but also help you label and organize boxes for convenience later.
4) Final Claims from Friends and Family
When everything is sorted and boxed, distribute will-bequeathed items and then invite everyone to take one final look over what has been packed up. This is their last chance to claim sentimental dishes, blankets, old toys, or just things that will be practical to pass on to the next several generations. Last Call for sentimental items is a small but very important step. Send it out to every possible friend or relative who may care. This way, no one misses their final chance to claim memory keepsakes.
5) Donate or Sell the Remainder
Finally, you should be free to sell or donate whatever is left. Sometimes, the will or united family wishes will determine how the last items are distributed. Most of the time, it’s up to whoever is willing to take on the job. There are many things, like pantry contents, that are best handled through donation. While antique furniture and bizarrely mint-condition ancient collectibles might make thousands for descendants if strategically sold in eBay.
You might also consider holding a garage sale in the driveway of the inherited home. This will give neighborhood friends a chance to claim their own memory keepsakes and share their condolences if they were not close enough to the family to attend the funeral.
If there are things you’re not yet ready to deal with, consider renting temporary storage. There are many surprisingly affordable options that can buy you a few months or even years to distribute bequeathed items or store keepsakes that don’t yet have a new home.
6) Clean From Top to Bottom
Now that everything is out of the house and dealt with, you can start preparing it for market. The best place to begin is by cleaning from top to bottom. Make sure to clear everything out of the attic, garage, and utility areas, sweep the ceilings for cobwebs and wipe down the baseboards. Scrub every surface and take a toothbrush to the crevices. Open the windows, air out the place, and steam clean the carpets.
A really thorough cleaning will give you a clear idea of what you’re really starting with. Don’t be afraid to bleach tiles, apply new grout and caulk, and make notes about repair needs as you go. You may want to do some upgrades, but the home may not look as old as you think. Once the curtains are open and everything has been scrubbed senseless, you will see the home a little more like real estate. With a structure, a quality to the walls and floors, and a floor plan rather than the crowded familiar rooms.
7) Take Care of Necessary Repairs
The house will need repairs. Almost all inherited houses have a few repairs that have fallen behind schedule. The roof may have broken shingles, the gutters may be full, the water heater may be on its last legs. There may be worn out baseboards and scuffed outlet and lightwitch covers. There may even be holes in the walls, decaying plumbing, or fixtures that date badly date the house. Be calm about it and take care of the repairs as if it were your own home. This is necessary to bring the house up to ‘move-in ready’ market standards.
If you’re looking for a few guides on what to do, consider the flipping community and how they handle fixer-uppers. You may even benefit from a temporary loan to repair the home. one that will be repaid when you sell it at a profit.
8) Repaint and Stage for Sale
Finally, do a detailed and professional repainting job on the inside and out of the house. Listen to your realtor and follow their advice on how to stage the home. You’ll want welcoming neutral colors on the walls, unblemished counters and carpets, and new caulk in all the windows and bathrooms. A home that has been repaired and polished to ‘like new’ can sell at a considerably better price.
Preparing an inherited home for sale can be a surprising amount of work, but you can accomplish it with care and determination. As long as you’re careful to adhere to the will and manage your financial planning carefully, the entire process can move forward smoothly from beginning to sale. For more advice on how to handle an inherited home legally, financially, and logistically feel free to contact us today!