I lost my only surviving parent a few months back and probate is in the works. I am one of three executors tasked with selling their house. It’s a modest home in a great location that my parents bought new over 20 years ago. They never did any updates or improvements; the house is now dirty and overcrowded with furniture. My co-executors and I disagree on what to do with it and who we should hire to sell it. I want an experienced Realtor and they think we should go with whoever has the lowest fees. Help! – TENSE FAMILY TIES
DEAR TENSE: My sincere condolences on the loss of your parent. I assist many families in situations like yours each year, and appreciate how challenging it can be. An estate may have one executor or several, and most people have little to no experience in this role.
There are differing opinions as to what the job of executor entails, especially when it comes to selling a home. Some people take a hands-off approach, while others choose to honour their loved one with a top-to-bottom renovation before putting a house on the market. My approach is somewhere in between. An executor does not need to become a design or renovation expert to get the best results from the sale, with the fewest complications.
The contents of your parents’ house will need to be dispersed, and the best time to do this is before the sale. We can sell the home “as is” or stage it with existing furniture, but it’s often easier to empty the house out early, since you’ll need to do this anyway.
Once the house is vacant, scrub it down. A fresh coat of paint and new carpets (depending on their condition) can provide a quick and inexpensive facelift to help you get the most value from the sale. Approach tasks like a project manager: bring in the movers, cleaners, painters and landscapers you need to do jobs quickly and easily. Your Realtor can recommend trusted professionals to help you through the process.
As you go, you will quite likely receive advice and opinions from your fellow executors, as well as from beneficiaries. As project manager, your decisions should be grounded in the responsibility you carry as executor. Get professional advice. Anyone can drive to the hardware store and purchase a “For Sale” sign, but when it comes to understanding the nuances of the real estate market, pricing, sales strategies and negotiation, the advice of an experienced Realtor can pay for itself many times over in the proceeds of a successful sale.
PRO TIP: My end goal is always to hand over the keys with no loose ends for the estate to deal with, which takes experience. When people ask me how to pick a Realtor, I tell them to check the agent’s resume (mine is posted on my LinkedIn page). You have one chance to sell this house, and it’s important to get it right. If you were jumping out of an airplane, you wouldn’t want to second-guess whether you should have bought the cheapest parachute once you saw the ground approaching. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiator
David is a top-selling Broker in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. He works personally with you when selling or buying your home. Call or text today for your free home evaluation! 519-577-1212.