Expert advice for selling an inherited property

Good Move unveils tips on selling an inherited property and how to avoid the obstacles that come with the sale

Online searches for inherited properties have increased by 86% in the last month* as the harsh reality of the pandemic impacts the market.  With many additional pitfalls that come with selling an inherited property, Nima Ghasri, Director at regulated property buyers, Good Move offers five simple tips to help sellers.

  1. The Will

When inheriting a property the first step is making sure that the legal side of things is covered and that the will states the name of the executor (the person in charge of the deceased’s estate) and the beneficiaries (those who are to inherit the estate). Shared ownership can make things a little trickier when making those major decisions, but the next steps are to apply for a grant of probate from the Probate Registry. If there is more than one executor, there is advice on the probate application form and guidance notes, as well as a handy guide from the government on how to do this part of the process.

  1. Apply for probate

Probate gives the executor the legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased. They will be given access to things like bank accounts, investments, and anything else that is relevant to the property. It usually takes a grant of probate around six to eight weeks to arrive, and then finalised issues of inheritance and the estate can take from about three to six months, or even longer, depending on things, such as, if it’s a large estate with various bank accounts, properties, etc.

  1. Speak to the experts

You can get a solicitor to act on your behalf to provide probate services if you want to avoid the extra paperwork, and although you may be dealing with family members during the process, it’s always good to cover yourself and avoid any additional arguments. If you’re already thinking about doing work to the property then it’s a good idea to get a chartered surveyor in as early as possible, the HMRC will also require an accurate figure for probate purposes.

  1. Check your inheritance tax requirements

Inheritance tax is due on estates of more than £325,000 at a rate of 40%, however, there are some variants on this, for example:

  • You won’t have to pay any inheritance tax if it is passed to the deceased’s spouse or civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club.
  • If the deceased left the estate to their children or grandchildren, the threshold goes up to £475,000 which also applies to adopted, foster or stepchildren, too.

Just bear in mind that you might have to pay capital gains tax on any profits you make from the property.

  1. Selling advice

It’s a good idea to renovate an inherited property before selling, and although it may be difficult to change a loved one’s home, it’s usually more desirable for buyers once the property has been refreshed. Much of the decision to update will depend on your circumstances and what is best for you. Those looking for a quick sale will want to get the most out of their time and money with some light touches. Things like a good clear out, a fresh coat of paint in neutral colours and even getting rid of old carpets and replacing them with wooden floors can make a major difference. Best practice when selling is always worth considering. Make sure you’re allowing lots of natural light into the property and look to declutter rooms of furniture left in the property during viewing. Don’t forget it’s the outside of the property that potential buyers will see first so be sure to tidy up the front and back gardens, jet wash any paving, and get the windows cleaned and polished.

“Selling your property under normal circumstances can be a stressful situation, even more so when you’re dealing with a bereavement,” Nima explains. “The additional steps required to sell an inherited property can add to what is already a demanding time so it’s important to ensure you’re following the necessary steps.

“While the paperwork can be greatly increased, some elements of selling a property remain the same and it’s worth bearing that in mind. It’s important to make the property look as visually appealing as possible to ensure viewers leave with a good and lasting impression.

“As I mentioned before, it’s worth instructing a chartered surveyor to perform a property survey, so that you can take steps to rectify any major issues that will put buyers off or reduce the value of your home.”