Executor duty of care, Showings when owner is away


Dear David,

I am the executor of an estate. A friend of mine has said they are interested in buying the property. This sounds like a pretty straightforward way to sell the house. – QUICK & EASY SALE

DEAR QUICK & EASY: Hold on, there’s no reason to rush. As the executor of an estate, you’ve been trusted to operate with an extreme duty of care. This isn’t about landing a quick sale, it’s about serving the late homeowner and the beneficiaries of their estate. It’s vital that you have clean hands if anyone ever questions how the sale came about. In order to say for sure that you did the best job possible, the home probably needs to be exposed to the open market.

There’s an urban myth that an estate sale is the place to snag a great deal. While we all love a good sale, this mindset is better suited to shopping for a used car. In my experience, estates attract fair market value when they are advertised and priced correctly. Given the proper circumstances, they are as capable as any property of generating multiple offers and selling for top dollar.

It’s great to hear that your friend finds the home desirable. I would suggest that when it hits the market, they submit an offer through their Realtor and possibly land a property that they obviously appreciate. Selling it to them directly doesn’t mean you’ll speed up the process. As an estate, the home needs to go through probate (in which a judge gives legal permission for assets to be passed on), so it’ll likely be a month or two before the sale can close anyway. There’s no rushing this process.

As the executor, you owe it to the deceased and their beneficiaries to sell the home at fair market value, not a price negotiated over the back yard fence.


Dear David,

Can we have our home on the market while we are away? – JET SETTER

DEAR JET SETTER: Absolutely! When your property is on the market, it’s important to take every opportunity to show it. You don’t want to miss a single appointment, since there’s no way of knowing which showing will be “the one” that sells it at the best possible price.

Here in Waterloo Region, most Realtors use some pretty impressive technology to manage MLS listings and keep clients in the loop at all times. Realtor identities are verified for every showing. Electronic lockboxes send immediate alerts to let us know when Realtors arrive for their appointments. When my clients are travelling, I set the system to notify them of their showings, so they’re kept in the loop when they’re not actually there.

On occasion, I’ve suggested that clients purposely go to the cottage or take a long weekend when their homes hit the market. If you’ve got a “hot property” and showings are plentiful, it’s sometimes easier to be out of the house than to try and accommodate a flood of appointments!