For SellersKari's BlogReal Estate Related May 11, 2023

How to Sell a Home After the Death of a Loved One

The loss of a loved one is a heartbreaking experience for everyone involved. But as an heir, along with grieving for your loss, there are other responsibilities you may have to dedicate your attention towards. One of these is handling the sale of the deceased’s estate. At the Kari Haas Real Estate Team, we understand that selling your loved one’s home can be a lengthy and emotional process. This article discusses the important steps you can take to navigate through this difficult time and make the right decisions.

Start the Probate Process

Probate is a legal process through which a court verifies the authenticity of the deceased’s will and grants an executor the power to manage the estate. Often an executor is named in the will itself and can be a beneficiary such as the deceased’s spouse or children. As reported by LegalMatch, a typical probate process can take around 12-24 months; hence it’s advised to start it as soon as possible and seek assistance from legal experts.

As an executor, you also need to fulfill additional responsibilities such as:

  • Provide notice to all creditors of the estate
  • Take inventory of the estate property
  • Ensure that all debts, taxes, and liens are paid from the sale of the estate

An alternative to probate is a beneficiary deed, which allows for the instant transfer of property on the individual’s death. This does not involve any legal process and allows you to sell the estate at your convenience.

Prepare for the Sale

Once the legalities of estate transfer are complete, you can turn your attention towards planning to sell. The first step will be to clean and declutter the property. Go room by room and segregate items based on ones you can discard, sell or donate. Buy numerous plastic storage boxes and store items as per these categories. Depending on the size of the home, it can take you days or weeks to complete cleaning. Fortunately, the Kari Haas Team has plenty of resources to assist you with this.

Hiring a real estate agent, like a professional like Kari Haas, will streamline the selling process and ensure you get the best price. Our team will conduct an inspection and guide you on whether you should sell the house as is or make necessary repairs. If the deceased was elderly or sick for quite some time, they may not have paid much attention to the upkeep of the property.

In such situations, you will have two options. First, you can hire contractors to fix what is broken or in disrepair. The Kari Haas team has a long list of trusted vendors to help you find the right professionals in your area. Once you have found the right person or team for the job, you can start the renovation process.

Second, you can consider selling the home as a fixer-upper, which can help speed up the process. Fixer-uppers are often priced lower and appeal to buyers who want to create a home based on their ideas and preferences. To get the best price for your home, focus on advertising its most desirable features, such as central location, large outdoor spaces, open floor plan, etc. Using our experience, the Kari Haas Real Estate Team will help set the price, which will invite the most bids and meet your selling expectations.

Stage Your Property

Whether you are selling the property as a fixer-upper or not, it’s important to invest in staging. Staging involves undertaking activities that make your home appealing to buyers. When done right, it can help secure a higher selling price than expected. Here are some go-to staging practices to use:

  • Deep clean all rooms of your home, including the attic, basement, and garage. You can do it yourself or hire professional cleaners.
  • Add a fresh coat of paint to rooms that look run-down and dull.
  • Replace all broken/flickering lights across the house.
  • As reported by HGTV, landscaping your front lawn and back garden can increase your curb appeal.

Additionally, it’s best not to be home while your agent brings buyers over for showings. This allows them to freely navigate the home and ask questions. With a fixer-upper, your agent will be obliged to disclose any major complications with the property, such as a leaky roof, old floorboard, etc. This is to safeguard against any future claims regarding the property. Once you receive a few offers, select the one that best meets your expectations and let us, the Kari Haas Real Estate Team, complete the formalities.

Treat Your Responsibility with Care

When dealing with the responsibility of selling your loved one’s home, reduce the burden on yourself by enlisting the help of professionals who can handle legalities in a streamlined manner and guide you toward making informed decisions. But also remember that your loved one has entrusted their home to you. This was potentially a place they loved for many, many years, so treat it and the responsibility with the care it deserves.


The Kari Haas Real Estate Team guides several people through transactions like this each and every year. We are prepared to help you through any situation. Give Kari a call when you are ready!


Photo Credit: Brett Warton via Unsplash

This post was written by Micah Norris for the Kari Haas Real Estate Team blog.