Estate November 11, 2022

Selling an Estate

Last week I sold a house that was an estate.  I was given a referral from my friend Beth to sell the home of her childhood friend’s grandmother (are you with me)?  The conversation was something like “Hey, Beth, do you know anyone in Des Moines who can help my family sell my grandmother’s house?  My grandma died this summer and, we don’t live in Iowa and we need help”. Beth connected me with the family and when we first met I was immediately grateful for my years working at Northern Trust in the Trust & Estates Settlement Department.  I learned so much working there!

There are a few extra steps that go along with selling an estate:

  • Who are the decision makers?  When a lot of family members are involved, one person needs to be appointed by the estate to make all financial decisions.
  • You will need a letter of appointment from an attorney to determine who can sign for the estate.  Typically this is the executor.  The executor is the only person who can sign all the documents in the real estate transaction.
  • Prior to listing, consider an estate sale of selling household goods and furniture on consignment.  I can refer you to a few reputable companies in our area.
  • Consider if you are willing to sell the home “as-is”.  This means that you are not willing to negotiate repair requests with a buyer.  The price at which the home is listed would be lower. Sometimes buyers are scared off when they see an “as-is” listing.
  • Technically, an estate is exempt from completing a seller’s disclosure.  If you have never lived in the home, you are not expected to know the details. You should still disclose anything you know about the home.
  • Make a plan for who is responsible for maintenance on the home until it is sold (think – snow removal & lawn care).
  • Gather maintenance records. It will give a new buyer comfort to know if the HVAC system was maintained.
  • Consider offering new buyers a 1- year home warranty as peace of mind.