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Inherited Real Estate That You Don’t Want? Here’s What to Do

”Getting an inheritance when a loved one dies, doesn’t always feel like a windfall — especially when it’s real estate that you don’t want. If you live in a state with an inheritance tax on property, you might not want to deal with a tax bill, or you’re dreading the hassle of selling the property.”


The first thing to know is that you are probably in the middle of a very emotional time, so it’s best not to do anything for the time being. In some states, you don’t have a choice about that, and it’s not a bad thing. For example, in Arizona, there is a 90-day waiting period before you can sell an inherited home.

You will need to start looking for an attorney and a real estate professional to evaluate your options, before doing anything. The estate planning attorney who handled the estate will be able to help, as there will likely be some taxes to be paid and they may be familiar with the property.

Be aware that you are a target for real estate investors. People who inherit real estate may not know the property’s value or understand why it may be worth more in the future. They also know that children often want to get rid of their inherited property quickly, and that a cash payout can be very tempting. They expect to get the property from you at a great discount, fast. Don’t fall victim to this.

Find out how much the property is worth. Do a lot of homework. Look at comparable properties in the area. Don’t rely too heavily on an appraisal, which may have been done as part of the valuation of the estate by the person who gave you the property. Sometimes the appraisal may be dated, or it may reflect other factors that are no longer relevant to the property’s value.

Speak with a number of realtors before choosing one. Remember that they are sales people and have winning personalities and a sympathetic ear. This is a business transaction first. Have them prepare estimates on the value of the property and ask for references. Contact the references and speak with them candidly.

There will be costs associated with the sale of the property. In addition to the real estate commission, you may have to make some investments in the property, if it has not been taken care of over the years.

You might consider selling the property at auction, as-is, which would eliminate any need to dress it up and would speed the process. However, be careful when it comes to the buyer of your property and make sure all costs and fees are in a contract. Have your attorney review the contract to be sure no one is taking advantage of you.

Take your time and be cautious. Your estate planning attorney will have some guidance for you. Selling the family home is an emotional experience, but as a seller, you’ll need to be all business.

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