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13 Steps to Selling Your Parent’s Home

13 Steps to Selling Your Parent’s Home

Many adults will find themselves needing to sell a parent’s home at some point. The most common and unfortunate reason is that a parent has died, leaving no one to live in the house or leaving a spouse who doesn’t want to live in the house alone. Other times, children need to relocate an aging parent to an assisted living facility. That parent might have diminished mental capacity related to age or illness, or they might not want to deal with the stress of selling the home. They (and you) might also fear that others will try to take advantage of them because of their age. If you do find yourself needing to sell your parent’s home, here are the steps to follow.

Set a “Sell By” Date

Use this date to work backwards and establish a timeline for the other steps on the list. If there’s no rush, you might plan to sell during the time of year when local market research says you’re likely to get the best price.

Relocate Your Parent in Advance

True, relocating a parent before listing the home means paying double living expenses for a while. But the cost may be worth it to avoid your loved one having to repeatedly get out of the house on short notice for showings or keeping the place immaculate 24/7. Consider hiring a trustworthy house sitter to prevent break-ins and vandalism. In addition, your parent’s insurance policy may not cover vacant property.

Clean Out The House

Our aging parents have often accumulated many things over the years that the house won’t show well through the clutter. Pack up and move all the items that your parent wants to take with them to their new home. If your parent is deceased, pack up and move all the items that the heirs are entitled to and want to keep. Have a nonprofit organization or a removal company like 1-800-JUNK take the remaining items. Also, have the entire home professionally cleaned from top to bottom. Make sure they remove any odors related to pets or smoking.

Choose the Family Point Person

Who in the family will be the point person for the sale? Choose someone who is trustworthy and financially savvy. In the event your parent has died, their will may have appointed an executor for their estate who will be the point person. This person will work with the Realtor and other professionals to complete the home sale.

Hire a Realtor

Once the home is empty and clean, it’s almost ready to list. That means it’s time to hire a Realtor. Look for someone with experience in the type of transaction you’re doing, especially if it’s an estate sale following your parent’s death, and someone who completes a high volume of sales. You want the property to close quickly.

Address Deferred Maintenance

Aging parents often don’t have the physical ability, the energy, or the money to deal with home maintenance. Things like the roof, the exterior paint, and leaky plumbing might have been neglected. Consult your Realtor on what needs to be done before listing the home. Unless you want to sell to a house flipper at a bargain price, it’s best to make the home move-in ready.

Make Improvements

The home’s design elements may be dated, especially if your parent has lived there for a long time. Talk to your Realtor about what needs to be updated or improved for the house to sell. It may need fresh paint in every room, wallpaper removal, new flooring, new fixtures, and possibly even a kitchen or bath remodel. You can decide which improvements you have the energy and budget for and hire people who can complete them quickly. Your Realtor can help you decide which projects are most likely to pay off.

Stage the Home

Hiring a staging company may help the home sell faster and for more money. Professionals will move temporary furniture and décor into the home to create an appealing look that will make buyers fall in love with the property. Staging can also make minor blemishes (like floor scratches) less obvious and make it seem like you aren’t in a hurry to sell the home, both of which should result in better offers.

Create Curb Appeal

You want your parent’s home to make a great first impression on buyers. Have the lawn mowed, the weeds pulled, and the trees and hedges trimmed. Plant new flowers and add fresh mulch to the beds. Other small details like new house numbers, a new entry mat, new door hardware, and even a new front door (or at least a fresh coat of paint) can make a big difference.

Agree on a Listing Price

The Realtor will suggest a listing price based on comparable sales in the area. If family members disagree with each other or with the Realtor on what the listing price should be, consider hiring a third party appraisal company to give you a neutral opinion on the home’s market value. Getting an appraisal may delay the sale slightly, but it may also keep family members speaking to each other for holidays to come.

Work on Paperwork with the Title Company

Submit the death certificate or any power of attorney documents to the title company. The property’s buyer and lender will want assurances that no one else can claim ownership of the property. Title insurance provides this assurance. Before issuing a policy, the title company will require various documents to prove that the title can pass unencumbered to the new owner.

Accept an Offer

Let’s say you’re fortunate enough to get multiple offers on the home. How do you decide which one to accept? It might not be the offer with the best price. It might be the offer that is least likely to fall through. That might be an offer where the buyer is paying all cash or where the buyer has a large down payment, is preapproved for a mortgage, and can close within two to four weeks.

Close the Deal

Once you’ve accepted an offer, the buyer will get an appraisal and a home inspection. The findings might require you to renegotiate the home’s price. For example, if buyer has offered more than the appraisal shows the home to be worth, you may have to lower the sale price to the appraised price so the buyer’s lender will authorize the mortgage. And if the inspection reveals problems you weren’t aware of, you might have to get them fixed before the sale can proceed.


Selling a parent’s home can be an emotional experience for everyone involved, especially if it is a longtime family home full of fond memories. By taking your time and hiring professionals you trust, the process can be less painful. Usaj Realty is a boutique real estate company in Denver and can help you through the selling process. Please contact us for more information.

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