Deceased Estate? 11 tips to help you

Selling the home of a lost loved one can be painful but it doesn’t have to be traumatic. Here is our guide to help you understand the process and minimise friction with your relatives.

By Steve Lowe

09-05-2019
Selling the home of a lost loved one can be painful but it doesn’t have to be traumatic. Here is our guide to help you understand the process and minimise friction with your relatives.

Insist the executor of the estate is the contact person for the real estate agent. This avoids any confusion or even arguments if there are a number of beneficiaries. If you are the sole beneficiary, it will also give you an important emotional buffer.
While waiting for a grant of probate, the prospective executor should seek quotes for preparing the property for sale. This might include fixing up a few problems, such a flaking paint, leaky guttering, gardening and cleaning.
Ensure the executor uses the services of an accountant or financial adviser to ascertain all taxes payable as a result of the sale. These should be made clear to beneficiaries upfront to avoid disappointment or confusion once the property is sold.
Almost every agent will know this, but make it clear the property cannot be sold until a grant of probate is issued. If your agent has interested parties on their database, you may need to tell them to cool their heels for a few weeks. That will avoid disappointment down the track.
Price discussions should be between the executor and agent. It’s important that realistic estimates are shared with the beneficiaries by the executor. If there are multiple beneficiaries with different expectations, it may also be a good idea to obtain a professional valuation.
A united approach on the method of sale is critical. Your agent will offer guidance on whether the property should go to auction or be offered for private sale. Their advice will be based on the quality of the property, similar homes for sale in the neighbourhood and local market conditions.
Agreement among beneficiaries on the instructions to be given to an agent is essential as an executor must sign a contract that outlines the method of sale, marketing budget, placement of advertising, reserve price and the commission that the agent is to be paid.
Costs come with any property sale. So make sure it’s agreed who will pick up immediate costs for marketing such as advertising and photography and how these costs should be reimbursed.
Prospective beneficiaries should discuss this investment with the executor, not the agent, to avoid multiple messages being conveyed.
Make sure the property is well presented, as this will maximise your return. However, talk to your agent about how this can be done at minimal expense. If that means advertising as a “renovator’s dream”, then you should consider this as a legitimate option. Why? Because it’s unlikely multiple beneficiaries will agree on how much and on what to spend any money to make repairs.
If you’re selling a period home, don’t update it. Period homes hold their value and are highly sought-after even in a flat market.
The executor must handle any negotiation that an agent mediates with a potential buyer. A range of decision rights, such as a price range or length of settlement, should be decided upfront to avoid any confusion or argument between beneficiaries.