Many things must be taken care of when someone passes away, and selling their home may not be at the top of the list. In many cases, it eventually must be done, especially if no other family members live in the area to take care of the property. Make sure to contact the mortgage company and all utilities to notify them of a new contact for handling the property. You may need to provide a death certificate until the will can be probated and ownership determined. Work with an attorney to figure out who has stake in the home and how any proceeds should be handled.
IS THERE STILL A MORTGAGE?
One of the first things to find out is if there is still a mortgage on the home. If so, make sure the mortgage payments continue to get paid on time. The last thing you want is the home to get foreclosed on before you get a chance to resolve the estate. With all the expenses associated with funerals, many times there is not much left over. Find out how much is still owed and work with a REALTOR to determine the home's value to see if possible proceeds could come from the sale. If you inherit a home that is paid off, you are in good shape when it comes time to sell.
PREPARING THE HOME TO SELL
When someone passes away, all their things remains with us. Depending on how much "stuff" a person collected during their lifetime, there could be a lot of work required to get the house ready to sell. Once personal items are given to the appropriate parties in the Will and everything else donated or sold (liquidation companies can help quickly remove assets that have no sentimental value). You will want all personal items like clothing, pictures, and documents out of the home before placing it up for sale. You can leave the furniture in the home until the it sells so the home does not look vacant and empty. Consider professional staging if needed.
MAKING REPAIRS AND UPDATING
You may have some work to do if the previous owner never made any updates to the home. I've seen homes built in the 50's and 60's that were purchased by the original owner and never touched. Many times these homes have lots of outdated fixtures, items that need repair, and things that should be brought up to code. Not many of today's buyers want to purchase a home straight out of the past, so prepare to do some work if you can afford it. Many times the kitchen and bathrooms will need the most attention. Do some research on similar homes in the area to see what upgrades similar homes have gotten.