Did You Inherit a House? What To Do Next

February 14, 2019

You’ve inherited a house and you’re wondering what to do next. Maybe your parents passed away and now the home is legally yours. But while you’re grieving and trying to sort everything out, you hardly have time to think about what needs to be done with the house. We’ve got you covered.

In addition to the quick tips below, Sundae has put together a comprehensive overview of the inheritance process. Our goal is to help you get the best outcome with the house during this difficult time.

1. Update paperwork

The first step you should take is to update the paperwork related to the house. That means updating the homeowner’s insurance policy, contacting the utility company to put it in your name, and getting all documents in order. You don’t want the insurance coverage to lapse and you want to make sure the lights stay on and that bills are paid. Some things to update:

  • Homeowner’s insurance policy
  • Water and sewer
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Property tax payments

Making sure all of these are covered can help move the process along. When you update the home-related paperwork and put everything in your name, you help build the foundation for everything that follows.

2. Have a plan for belongings

The house you have inherited is filled with stuff that is not yours. You probably don’t want to keep all of it so you’ll need a plan for going through it and deciding what to do with everything. Consider sorting the house’s contents into these categories:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Trash

If there are siblings involved, make sure everyone has a say on what stays and goes. Try to avoid any conflict and come up with a plan together.

Whatever you don’t keep, you can donate to charity or sell it in an estate sale. If it’s unsalvageable, you can toss it.

While this step can be hard, especially if a death is involved, it’s better to take action than to leave the house stuck in time.

Further reading: What Is Probate and How Does It Work?

3. Keep up appearances

You don’t want the home to deteriorate too much or make it seem like no one is taking care of it. Too often homes that go without care will deteriorate into disarray quickly. On top of that, once homes reach a certain level you could be at risk for squatters or vandals. Keep up the appearance of the home and don’t leave it abandoned for too long.

4. Love it or list it

Inheriting a home can be a huge responsibility. You want to decide whether you want to move into the home, rent it out or sell it. Let’s review some things you should consider.

Moving in

If you decide to move in, you’ll want to schedule an inspection to see the quality of the home and be aware of any issues. If something needs to be repaired, evaluate costs and urgency. Also, an important thing to note is that if siblings are joint owners, they’ll have to sign off and approve what to do with it too.

Renting

Renting your inherited home can be a great additional source of income. But beware, suddenly becoming a landlord is difficult. You will have to deal with the tenant and if things go awry you could deal with eviction or paying for damages. You also want to check with any local ordinances and rules about renting. If you’re considering making it a vacation home, you can become like a hotel manager putting out fires. It could end up being a lot of work.

Selling

You won’t pay capital gains tax on any increase in the home’s value during the deceased owner’s lifetime, only on any increase in value between the time of inheritance and when you sell it.

When it comes time to sell your home, there are typically two paths to take. A new option is now on the market too, that you might want to check out.

The first option is to work with a real estate agent to list the property. This could be a good option if the house is market ready and in good condition. However, you want to evaluate commission fees which could eat up six percent of your profit. On top of that, agents may be inexperienced and not score you the best deal.

Additionally, the house may be out of date and need a lot of repairs. If you leave things as-is, the home can be on the market for a long time.

The second option, if your home is not market ready, is to sell your house as-is for cash. You’ve probably seen the signs “buy homes in cash.” Many of these investors can be ruthless and won’t get you the best deal, while they make a profit.

If neither of these options sound great there’s another option in town. Sundae. We started our company to help homeowners who want to sell their house as-is and don’t want to feel scammed or robbed out of a profit. Sundae is the only marketplace that connects homeowners looking to sell their house as-is to the largest network of investors to ensure you get the highest possible offer for your home. We also offer eligible sellers up to $10,000 in cash advances to help facilitate the process. We’re here to help you through the process so you can make the best decision for you.

 

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Josh Stech

Sundae's co-founder and CEO, Josh has a history leading companies that operate at the intersection of real estate and technology. Prior to Sundae, Josh was Founding Partner and SVP of Sales at LendingHome, and before that, he was Co-Founder and CFO of Purpose Built Investments. Josh graduated with honors from Stanford with a BA in Economics, BA in Spanish, and an MA in Latin American Studies with a focus in Economic Policy.