Everything You Need to Know When Selling an Inherited House

Inheriting a house can be both a fortune and a challenge. While it might come with sentimental value, it also brings with it many decisions. And these decisions are vital if you’re considering selling the property. Navigating the process of selling an inherited house requires careful planning and understanding of various aspects to ensure a smooth and profitable transaction.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to selling an inherited property.

Understanding the Legal Process for Your Inherited Property

Inheriting a house involves legal procedures that differ based on where you live and the property’s value. These steps are essential before you can claim ownership.

The process might include navigating specific legal documents or a trust. So, if you’re selling an inherited house, it’s vital to grasp these legalities.

Probate Process for an Inherited House

Probate is the legal process that happens after someone passes away. It’s where you use their assets to pay off debts, and whatever’s left passes on to you as the heir.

Each state has its own set of probate rules. But, the main deal is appointing someone (usually a family member or a lawyer) to handle all the nitty-gritty. They ensure everything goes by the book, following the wishes in the will or the state laws if there isn’t one.

During the probate process, you may need to resist the urge to renovate the property for sale. This is because you have to wait until all the legal hoops are complete.

Probate takes time, often several months. Once it’s all settled and the house is officially yours, you can consider selling it if that’s what you want. But remember, you may still need to sort out any debts the estate owes. Sometimes, you’ll need to sell off the property to clear those debts.

Alternatives to the Probate Process

If you want to skip the whole probate hassle, there are a couple of smart ways to inherit a house before the sale.

Transfer-on-death Deed

This lets the property transfer to you quickly without worrying about the probate process. It saves you months of waiting if you want to sell quickly.

As effortless as this process is, you’ll wonder why people still go through the probate process. This is because only about half of the states in the US accept this method. So, it is crucial to check if your state allows it.

An Inherited House in a Trust

If the house is in a living trust or any other trust, it doesn’t have to go through probate at all. Even if other parts of the estate deal with the probate process, the house in the trust follows its clear path without all the legal hoops.

The trust’s rules govern how you inherit the house. This makes it a much smoother and hassle-free process.

What You Need to Know About the Financials of Selling an Inherited House

Whether the inherited home is free and clear or has a mortgage also impacts its sale process.

Inherited House With a Mortgage

If the house you inherited has a mortgage, it means there’s a debt attached to it. So, you will need to pay the debt.

Your primary responsibility here is to ensure that the mortgage payments are up-to-date. If you let these payments lapse, the loan interest and late fees can quickly pile up.

In the worst-case scenario, the lender could foreclose on the house. This means you could lose the property if you don’t make the outstanding payments on time.

So, if you have a mortgage to handle for your inherited house. Here’s what you can do:

Pay Off the Loan

You can use your available cash, sell the house, or rent it out to get the money needed to pay off the entire loan.

Another choice is refinancing. This means getting a new loan in your name, which might have better terms.

Assume the Loan

If the lender agrees, you can take over the existing loan. The good news is that you keep the same terms and rates as the previous owner. This makes things simpler for you.

Accept a Deed in Lieu

If you want to avoid going through the hassle of handling the mortgage, you should look into a deed in lieu.

You can agree with the lender to transfer ownership back to them with a deed in lieu. They forgive the remaining mortgage, and you avoid foreclosure costs.

While this helps you avoid paying the mortgage on your inherited property, it also transfers ownership. So, you may want to consider other options for selling an inherited property.

After settling the mortgage using one of these options, you’re free to sell the house. 

Inherited House Without a Mortgage

It’s good news if there’s no mortgage on your inherited house since you won’t have to worry about loan payments. But, as the new owner, you have to handle property taxes and utilities. If the deceased’s estate didn’t cover these costs, it’s your responsibility to do so.

To officially own the home, you need to visit the local property records office. They’ll help you get the home’s deed under your name. Also, set up utility accounts in your name to ensure everything runs smoothly.

After completing these steps, you’re all set to sell the house just like you would any other property.

Costs of Inheriting a House

Inheriting a house comes with some costs that may influence your decision to sell. These are serious financial responsibilities you need to be aware of.


After inheriting a house, the first thing you may need to worry about is probate costs. As mentioned earlier, this legal process is critical to figuring out who gets what from the deceased person’s estate.

Depending on the state, there’s a probate tax, and it can vary. For instance, in Virginia, it’s calculated based on the estate’s value. So, if you inherit a property, you might have to shell out some cash for this.

Removal of Possessions

Before selling an inherited house, you’ll also need to deal with the deceased’s personal items left behind. You could sell them at an estate sale for extra cash or donate them for a tax deduction.

But if you’re not sentimental and want things cleared out, you might have to invest in storage or a dumpster. This will cost you some money.


Now, if the house isn’t in perfect shape, which often happens, you might need to do some repairs or updates. This is especially true if you plan to sell quickly. However, you can avoid renovations or repairs by selling as is.

Utilities and Insurance

Once the property is officially yours, bills will begin to come in, and you’ll have to pay them. Utilities and insurance are the most common and the first set of bills you’ll need to handle.

Make sure you cancel unnecessary services, but don’t skimp on insurance. You don’t want your new property to be at risk.


Also, don’t forget the regular maintenance costs. Maintenance includes:

  • keeping the place in good shape
  • landscaping
  • fixing things when they break

These bills add up, and you’ll need to settle them before the selling the inherited house. Getting ready for this and other bills will go a long way in simplifying the sale process. 

Do You Need to Pay Taxes When You Inherit a House?

You usually don’t have to pay taxes immediately you inherit a house or property. However, there are exceptions.

Local Property Tax

When you inherit a property, one of the first things you encounter is the local property tax. The assessed value of your inherited house determines the calculation of this tax. Your local municipality and your house’s location also affect your property tax.

These rates can vary widely, and it’s a crucial factor to consider. This becomes more essential if you’re planning to hold onto the property for a while before the sale.

You should note that if these property taxes form part of the deceased’s existing mortgage, they’re usually up-to-date. But, if the home is free and clear, or you’re uncertain about the inclusion, reach out to the local tax office.

They can confirm whether there are any overdue taxes on the property. And if there are, you will need to pay these biannually. Keeping this in check is crucial to avoid any legal entanglements down the road.

Also, settling this tax will prevent future buyers from shying away from the property and improve the inherited house’s value during the sale.

Inheritance Tax

Whether you’ll pay inheritance tax or not depends on which state your property is in. Each state sets its own rules, and you don’t need to worry about a federal inheritance tax.

Inheritance tax applies to the value of the property you inherit. Also, the rates can be quite steep, reaching up to 18%. So, knowing your state’s specific rules is crucial to navigating this tax territory smoothly.

Gift Tax

When someone decides to gift you a property, if your name is on the property’s title before the person gifting it passes away, it’s considered a gift.

The good news is that you won’t need to report a gift the IRS. However, it’s crucial to understand the property’s original value for tax purposes.

Why does this matter?

If you plan to sell the property, this original value will influence your capital gains tax. If you’re unsure about gift tax responsibilities, don’t hesitate to contact a tax professional. 

Capital Gains Tax

This is the tax that applies to the gain you make after selling the inherited house. Your capital gains tax payable factors in the property’s appreciation in value while you owned it.

When you’re selling an inherited house, whether you’ll pay capital gains tax hinges on three key factors:

  • the property’s fair market value (FMV)
  • your home’s tax basis
  • your eligibility for the home sale exclusion

Fair Market Value (FMV)

Fair market value is the price your inherited house could fetch if you were to sell it in the open market. When it comes to inherited property, the FMV is essentially the value of the house on the day the previous owner passed away.

Now, this fair market value becomes your home’s tax basis. In plain terms, it’s the starting point for calculating your capital gains tax. You only pay capital gains tax if you sell the house for more than this basis.

If your home’s tax basis is $500,000, for instance, and you sell it for $600,000, only the $100,000 difference is subject to capital gains tax.

Stepped-Up Basis

When you inherit a property, the IRS gives you a handy tool called the “step-up in basis.” It means they will recalculate the property’s value upon inheritance. So, if the property’s value increases from this stepped-up basis before you sell it, you might owe capital gains tax on that appreciation.

The IRS calculates your gains based on the difference between the property’s value when you inherited it and the selling price. Any increase in value beyond this stepped-up basis might be subject to capital gains tax.

Home Sale Exclusion or Section 121 Exclusion 

The home sale exclusion allows you to exclude some or all of your gains from selling a house from capital gains tax. For married couples filing jointly, the exclusion is a whopping $500,000, and for single filers or heads of households, it’s $250,000.

So, if your profit from selling the house falls within these limits, you might not have to pay any capital gains tax.

But to enjoy this exclusion as a young inheritor, the house you’re selling must be your primary home. This means it must be the place where you actively live. Also, you must have been living in the house as your primary residence for at least two out of the past five years.

So, if you inherit a house and intend to sell it, living in it for a couple of years could save you a significant chunk in taxes when you eventually do.

Understanding and planning around this exclusion could make a substantial difference in your pocket when selling your inherited property.

So, if you’re considering a sale, keep the home sale exclusion in mind and factor it into your decision-making process.

Selling Your Inherited Property

When it comes to selling an inherited home, your approach depends on what matters most to you: getting the highest possible amount or selling it quickly.

Maximizing Your Profits

If your priority is squeezing every penny out of your inherited property, you have a couple of options:

Listing with a Real Estate Agent

Hiring a realtor is a good choice. They leverage their expertise to market your property effectively. Platforms like the MLS and other real estate networks attract potential buyers willing to pay a good price for your inherited house.

Plus, they guide you through the process, offering valuable advice when offers start rolling in. With a realtor, your chances of getting a good price for the house are quite high side, however, it could take months before you can sell the house.

Also listing with real estate agents requires planning for closing costs and paying commissions or agent fees.

Selling It Yourself (FSBO – For Sale By Owner)

Going the FSBO route means you don’t pay a listing agent’s fee, potentially saving money upfront. However, it comes with a trade-off. You need to handle all the marketing and closing details personally.

While you may save on initial costs, you may not fetch as high a price as an experienced professional could secure when selling an inherited house

Need to Sell Fast?

If speed is your game, there are strategies tailored for a swift sale:

Consider Cash Buyers

Cash buyers are investors or companies willing to purchase your property outright, often in as-is condition. This eliminates the need for repairs or extensive staging. Also, it streamlines the process and ensures a rapid sale.

Auction Your Property

Auctions can be lightning-fast. Potential buyers bid, and within a set timeframe, the highest bid wins. It’s a quick way to sell, but keep in mind that the final price might be lower than what you’d typically get.


Imagine selling your inherited home with the click of a button – that’s what iBuyers offer. These tech-savvy companies operate in select markets and provide a hassle-free way to sell your property quickly.

iBuyers are popular for their lightning-fast transactions. They operate on your timeline, often closing the deal in two weeks or even less. If you’re looking for a swift sale, iBuyers are your best bet.

They offer a deal close to fair market value. Also, they assess your property and make a competitive offer, ensuring you get a reasonable price without lengthy negotiations.

Selling to an iBuyer is remarkably easy. They handle the entire transaction process, sparing you from the complexities of traditional sales. From paperwork to property inspections, they take care of it all.

What Roadblocks Can You Encounter When Trying to Sell Your Inherited House?

You may hit a few unexpected bumps selling an inherited property. Here are some potential roadblocks you should be aware of.

Unpredictable Real Estate Market

The real estate market can be unpredictable. Fluctuations in demand and price might affect how quickly your property sells and its price.

It’s essential to be ready for market fluctuations and adjust your selling strategy accordingly.

Unexpected Repairs

Homes, especially older ones, might reveal unexpected problems that require repairs. These issues can delay the selling process and increase your expenses.

Being financially prepared for potential repairs is crucial to avoid last-minute stress.

High Closing Costs

Closing costs can be significant. These include fees for agent listings, legal expenses, and more.

High closing costs can eat into your profits. It’s essential to factor these costs into your budget and pricing strategy when selling an inherited house.

Buyers Backing Out

Sometimes, buyers might change their minds and back out of the sale. This leaves you in a challenging situation.

Also, this uncertainty can prolong the selling process and lead to additional expenses. Having contingency plans in place can help you navigate such situations.

Sell Your Inherited House Swiftly With Grandview Homes! 

While homes typically stay on the market for around a month, you don’t have to endure such a wait. Grandview Homes offers the perfect solution. We specialize in acquiring homes promptly and exactly as they are.

Whether you find yourself as the inheritor, seeking a seamless transition, or a retiree yearning for a simpler life, Grandview Homes is ready to help.

Within a mere 24 hours, you can get a compelling offer that resonates with your needs and desires.

At Grandview Homes, we empower you to sell your house on your terms, ensuring a smooth journey into your next chapter.

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