How To Decide Whether To Sell Or Keep Your Inherited Property In California

In life, most decisions are easy, but the big ones are just choices that challenge us and the status quo.  They often appear to be thrust upon us at the most inopportune time. We just have to remember to step back, take a breath and remember to walk around the entire problem.

Inheriting a house in Stockton can be the same way. We need to remember to view it from all sides and then make choices that advance our finances and families plan. The real challenge is to avoid the negative chatter that obliges you to look at the problem from just one perspective… usually someone else’s.  Remember, the way that we view the challenges often become a self fulfilling prophecy. We tend to spend so much time worrying about what others would have us do that we fail to see the real opportunities that lay in right in front of us.

So if a happy life is about challenges and rising to the occasion, it is also about picking your battles and making the right choices so that the problems become opportunities and do not become long term burdens. Sometimes, the best things in life come at the worst possible time, and yet our ability to look at all sides reveals the real opportunity for a real success.

Inheriting a house in California is just that kind of challenge. So, in today’s article I want to talk about How To Decide Whether To Sell Or Keep Your Inherited Property In California.

Most of the time, inheriting a house is a good thing. It provides a family the ability to move their assets from one generation to the next. Other times, its results are transferring a significant burden. This is most almost always the case when a house suffers deferred maintenance, need a lot of repairs or upgrades and money just isn’t available to do anything.

The gift of inheritance was never meant to be a burden.

If you are you trying to decide whether to sell or keep your inherited property in Stockton or Sacramento, you have to weigh all option and put everything on the table. It’s important that you flush out every possible option and its financial impact on your family. Let’s remember that  inheriting a house is first and foremost a gift. It should be celebrated for the ideal it represented to the decedent:  the attainment of a life’s dream and accomplishment of home ownership. Remember though, that house was their dream and it is NOT your responsibility for you to live their dream regardless of what they wanted. Because real gifts come with no strings attached.

The  gift of inheritance was never meant to be a burden. So why do many view it that way? Emotions, Love, obligation, payback, the list goes on. 

Parents, in particular, project things on their kids and some of that is just unrealistic. Mom and Dad often pick the strongest of their children to be an executor of an estate and carry out their wishes. Sometimes the heirs, specifically other siblings, are uncooperative and never intended to go along with Mom and Dad’s wishes. Believe me, Mom and Dad always hoped for the best outcome but they understand that you can’t make your siblings miraculously cooperative.

The truth is that if we look at the gift independant from what we think they wanted (regardless of how much that whole notion of I know what they wanted was), maybe we can see the wonderful asset that it can be and one of the options that you have is to sell it so it never becomes that burden. Unless you are a real estate investor and it is what you do for a living, owning a house that you dont live in is a burden. Financially, emotionally and in time.

“Let’s put that in perspective. As Real Estate Investor’s we make a living buying and selling property. We have buckets that are either performing or non performing assets and we make a choice to either keep them, improve them or sell them.  The operative word… CHOICE.  With an inheritance, you dont get to choose which house you get, where its located, the neighborhood, its tax structure, its condition, it’s debt, it’s neighbors, it’s liens, its liabilities…”

In business, we choose the assets we own from the outset and we do not just own assets to own them. We analyze their potential for making a financial impact today and in the future. If they cannot make an impact today, and we cant see an immediate path for tomorrow, we sell them and cut our losses to make room for assets that will perform. We are unemotional about these choices and decisions otherwise we would eventually go bankrupt as the non performing assets would drag the rest of the ship under. They are known as liabilities. And a Liability is a Burden.

As an individual who would wish that burden/liability on your family just because you happened to die? Is it your responsibility as the surviving relative to take that liability willingly and embrace an unnecessary risk? The best option may be that you could just sell the house as it is without guilt or worries.

Today I want to help you look at all sides of that inherited house and help you determine whether that inherited house is an asset or a liability for you.

First, I want to say that if you sell the house today, it will never be worth more. That is as of today, March 12, 2019. Are you ok with that?

Today’s Real Estate Market

The real estate market in 2019 has flattened and houses are sitting on the market longer than they have in the past 4 years.  There is also still a shortage of houses on the market indicating it is still a sellers market. Having said that let’s start analyzing your decision.

Whether or not you knew about the inheritance, you will be faced with some unexpected challenges once the property is in your name. Owning a house is expensive. The bills, the taxes, the maintenance, and the unexpected repairs can come as a shock. As any investor will tell you, the longer you own it, the more it is costing you. Before you make a decision about whether to sell or keep the inherited property, ask yourself a few questions. Take the time to learn about the market and the property in question, to better help with your decision. Below, we will offer some tips to help you determine if you should keep or sell your inherited property in Stockton. Will will also offer some insight into the best ways to sell.

Ask Yourself These Questions

  • Where is the house located?
  • Where are you located?
  • Are you ok traveling back and forth?
  • Is there a Mortgage?
  • Does the estate have assets that will pay the Mortgage?
  • If Not, Can you Afford the Mortgage?
  • Was the House vested in a Trust?
  • Is there a will and has it been through Probate Court?
  • Does the Estate have the money to pay for Probate Court?
  • Do you have a use for the property?

Holding onto a house for sentimental reasons is a terrible financial decision especially if you are not going to be living in it.  Don’t feel as if you are obligated to keep the house. Only keep the property if you have a sincere use for it. There is no sense in holding onto a property that will just end up sitting as a burden.

  • Are there other owners?

If there are other owners of the property, you will all need to sit down and come to a consensus. Work together to decide if the home should be kept or sold. If there is an odd man out, consider buying them out as not to cause further disagreement. Remember, it is just a house, and the person who passed it down to you would never want to see their gift become an argument.

  • Does the house need work?
  • Does the estate have money for repairs and updates?
  • Order at least one Home inspection
  • What will it Cost to Fix the house?
  • Find a contractor and get some bids
  • If you decide you want to sell, how much do you want to spend upfront?
  • How will that impact the Sales Price

Many people dont realize that depending on the way that they choose to sell determines what they need to do. Of course that is all determined by the condition of the house as well. If the house is in reasonably good condition, and the home has not yet been cleared out, of the valuables, that should happen first and foremost.

If it is determined that the house needs many repairs it may be most practical to start interviewing real estate professionals, agents, investors and contractors alike so you can determine the best way to deal with everything. Remember all a real estate agent can do is give a recommendation of repairs and possibly a name of a contractor. They are not going to fix the house, pay for the houses repairs, clean it up or buy it.

A real estate investor will look at the house and tell you what he/she thinks it is worth in its current condition,. The will buy the house and pay cash. In most instances you won’t have any out of pocket expenses and you will not be in charge of the work or responsible to pay for it.  With a we buy houses company, you can sell that house and not have to worry about what to fix and what to disclose.

Finally, there is the contractor. You will need to manage and pay for everything. Remember contractors are not experts in “flipping houses” and no matter how many TV shows that you or they have watched, making the wrong repairs and updates can be more costly than doing nothing at all. Contractors earn their money when they complete the job. Not when your house sells. They dont know how to get top dollar on a flip because they dont know the market. Not like a real estate investor, that puts their own money at risk every day. I have heard the stories where contractors have talked families into spending thousands of dollars with the help of a knowledgeable real estate agent and lost a lot of money. In changing markets its often better to look at the best way to mitigate your losses and sell that house for as much as possible now.

A traditional property listing will come with some upfront costs, and you will need to make some repairs to the house and have it professionally cleaned. It’s tricky making repairs to a house you’ve never owned. You may not know what you’re getting into. You don’t want to find yourself down a money pit, spending thousands on a house you want to sell anyway. Depending on how you decide to sell, you could face not only repair costs but costs for marketing too.

Keeping or Selling an Inherited House is a Lot of Work!

The Ways To Sell

List It with an Agent

Listing your inherited property in Stockton will require you to get the property ready for the public showing and the MLS. You need to take a look at what other homes are selling for, and evaluate honestly how your property stacks up. Be realistic with your price, and don’t spend too much time or money over-improving. Decide how quickly you would like to sell. If you want to get top of market, you’ll have to spend money. If the estate has the cash or you do and you think you have 5 to 7 months to wait for a sale, create your plan. Remember, your house needs to compete with all of the others on the market. I recommend that you find your houses sweet spot and sell. Spend as little as you need to to get the highest possible price.

When you list an inherited home, you may feel frustrated to suddenly to have to spend money selling a house that wasn’t yours. Know the risks.

Sell it On Your Own

Selling the house using an for sale by owner listing will save you on the commission, but you will still need to pay for cleaning, repairs, marketing, and other selling costs. In most cases, selling on your own to a retail buyer will take longer and ultimately put less in your pocket.

Sell To An Investor

This may be your most cost effective way to sell that Inherited house. If you sell your inherited property to a real estate investor like Westbrook REI, you will not need to spend a dime out of pocket. Nor will you have to pay expensive commissions, agent fees, or administrative costs. By selling the property directly, you will be able to quickly receive your profits and move on from the house without spending months, managing a contractor making repairs and waiting for the property to sell. Discover more

I have talked with hundreds of homeowners that just didn’t know that they had any options to sell the house that didn’t include a real estate agent.

Why? We talk to the wrong people and sometimes they validate our hopeless beliefs!

Every house is different and has its own challenges and solutions.  So as homeowners we talk to trusted family and friends, even trusted Realtors®.

Let’s face it, everyone’s an expert and everyone has an opinion and sometimes the people that we trust the most are just plain wrong.

My name is Peter Westbrook and I am a real estate Investor, a cash home buyer in Sacramento, Stockton, Manteca and Modesto, CA. and I would like to talk to you about how we do business and how we can help you. While no one can promise that they will buy your house sight unseen for whatever amount that you want, we will sit down and make a fair cash offer that will in most cases exceed what you can get if you chased the market conventionally.

Give us a call at (209)481-7780. What have you got to lose, you may just find out that selling directly to us is your best alternative. In either case you will be get a better picture of your options, understand your houses worth and be able to make more informed decision. We’d love to earn your business.

To learn more about whether to sell or keep your inherited property in Stockton, reach out to us! We are happy to answer any questions you have. (209) 481-7780

Why Houses Don't Sell -

Peter Westbrook

Peter Westbrook is a local Cash Home Buyer / Real Estate Investor in Stockton, Sacramento and Modesto CA and Tulsa Oklahoma. He has written numerous real estate articles that have been published here and by other blog and news outlets. Peter has appeared on several local and national news reports regarding the state of the Stockton and Sacramento Real Estate Markets.

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