Selling a probate property can be a complicated and drawn out process that can put a strain on families both emotionally and financially. Clearing and preparing the property for sale, while potentially dealing with the loss of a loved one can feel like an overwhelming task, especially if family members have differing views on the best way to proceed. In an attempt to draw a line under such discord, or through a lack of available funds, research has shown that many probate properties sell below their true market value. Here are a few tips to help you get the support you need and make sure you get the best possible sale price for the property.
1. Enlist help to sort and remove personal belongings
One of the hardest things when selling a probate property can be sorting through personal belongings. Not only can be physically and emotionally challenging, but also extremely time consuming. Enlist the help of a friend or relative who can both lend a hand with the sorting and can help you remain focused on the task at hand. If there is a lot of paperwork to sort, remove it from the property and sort it elsewhere. The same goes for anything that may delay getting the property on the market.
2. Calculate if the property is worth sprucing up
When selling a probate property, it makes sense to carefully consider the value of whether or not to renovate. Should you sell the property for a low price as a project? Or should you invest any amount of time or money in doing the property up and aiming to achieve the highest possible price? Invite three separate estate agents to value the property in its current condition. Then ask what you can expect to achieve if the property is fully renovated. If the agents recommend carrying out renovation works, ask which specific works are likely to achieve the best return on your investment. Get three separate quotes to do the works and calculate if it’s worth making the investment. Always use builders and decorators you know or ones that come highly recommended. On line forums such as Nextdoor are a great source of locally recommended tradespeople.
3. Clear, declutter and clean
Properties sell better if the buyer can imagine themselves living there. The cleaner, warmer and brighter and more spacious the property, the more likely a buyer is able to imagine it as their home. If the property is full of furniture, accessories, photos etc unfamiliar or not to the taste of the buyer, they are unlikely to make an offer. Or they will see it as a major project and make an unacceptably low offer. Even if you decide not to decorate the property, make sure the buyer can see its full potential. Remove as many items as possible including curtains and even carpets if very old and warn. Clear and tidy the gardens and make sure the property is spotlessly clean including the windows.
4. Use Charity Shop Collection Services to remove unwanted items
Some charity shops will collect unwanted furniture such as the British Heart Foundation. Some will collect clothes and other items such as the BHF and the Red Cross. Contact the charity shops in your area to see if and what they if they will collect directly from the property. If you are left with a large number of items that charity shops won’t take, ask for recommendations for removal teams that will collect and deliver or dump the rest. This may be a cheaper and easier option than hiring a skip.
5. Tax implications
Finding out how much you can expect to achieve for the sale of the property can have the double benefit of identifying how much inheritance tax you will be expected to pay. In the UK you will only pay inheritance tax if the property is valued at £325,000 (single person) or £650,000 (couple). Anything over those amounts is taxed at 40 per cent. If the property is valued at more than it sells for within four years (and therefore you’ve paid too much in inheritance tax) then you can apply for a rebate. More details on tax and other financial implications of selling a probate property are clearly listed in the faq page of the Probate Purchasers website.
6. Be aware of unscrupulous buyers
When selling a probate property unscrupulous buyers can take advantage of your circumstances by offering to take the property off your hands at a below market price. Beware of such offers and follow these simple tips to achieve the best possible sale price.
7. Use the services of a Home Staging specialist
A home staging specialist can help, not only by ultimately achieving the best sale price but also by offering useful information to help family members reach consensus on the best way forward. They can recommend the remedial works required for the best return, which they can either arrange themselves or hand over to you. Assets are often tied up in a probate property, so some home staging companies will agree to take a small deposit to start the works and the rest of the payment once the property has sold. Ask your agent or take a look on Houzz.co.uk for recommended property staging specialist experienced in preparing probate property for sale.
Janine Shalev is a professional property and home stager at JS Property Staging. She transforms empty properties into spaces that prospective buyers or tenants would love to call home. Call or message Janine if you would like to advice on preparing your probate properties for sale. See her completed probate property projects here.
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