18 Jul 7 Things to Do After Inheriting a Home
Inheriting a home can cause conflicting emotions. When you inherit property from a person who has passed or is incapable of managing their own home, it’s common to have mixed emotions. While you are certainly in a state of emotional flux, you may also be excited at the prospect of becoming a new homeowner. These feelings are natural.
It’s also natural to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next, particularly if you have never owned a home before. You likely have many questions surrounding what to do next and the proper steps to take as a new homeowner. Here are the 7 most important things to do after inheriting a home.
#1 Speak with an Expert
Owning a home comes with many costs, even if you inherit the property from a loved one. For example, you will still be responsible for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance if you choose to keep the property. These sums can amount to thousands of dollars a year. Is this in your current budget? The first thing to do after inheriting a home is to speak with a home selling expert who can go over these costs with you to determine if it is in your best interest to keep the property in your possession or try to sell.
#2 Determine if There Is a Mortgage Balance on the Home
Once you’re aware of the baseline costs associated with keeping the home, you’ll want to find out if there is balance on the property’s mortgage. If so, how much is that balance and what do the monthly payments equate to? How long will it take you to pay off the mortgage and is this something you can afford? While many first time homebuyers struggle to get the money together for a downpayment, the sticker shock of a mortgage payment in addition to property taxes and homeowner’s insurance can be significant.
Additionally, find out if the home is in a neighborhood with a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). HOAs often come with monthly fees as well that you will need to figure into your budget.
#3 Have the House Inspected
Whether you are looking to move into the home yourself, or are looking to sell to a prospective buyer, it is essential that you have your newly inherited home inspected. While everything may look fine on the surface, there may be problems lurking such as mold, a faulty foundation, or roofing issues. You must be aware of these things as conditions such as mold or mildew can pose a health risk to anyone living on the property, and it can affect the home’s resale value.
#4 Ensure There Is No Lapse in Insurance Coverage
Even if you are planning to sell the home, it’s imperative that you contact the homeowner’s insurance company as soon as possible to ensure continuity of coverage while you look for a buyer. Many policies lapse upon the death of the insured. Leaving your newly inherited home without insurance coverage is risky- if something happens to the home before you get a chance to sell you bear the full financial responsibility.
#5 Keep Up with Utilities and Maintenance
Another crucial thing to address right away is maintenance and utility connection at the home. While keeping the cable going may not be a concern, you do want to ensure that the electricity stays on. If homes are not temperature controlled they can develop problems with mold and moisture, leading to costly repairs down the road. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that lawn care is maintained- you may face HOA fees or city fines if it is not.
#6 Take an Inventory of Belongings
When you inherit a home you likely also inherit the belongings that are inside of it. Small things like the kitchen blender and the old sofa in the living room. Whether you are keeping the home for yourself or are planning to sell, you need to know what to do with all that stuff. Set aside time to go through the contents of the house with attention to detail, cleaning out each drawer. You may find old family photos that hold sentimental value, that you didn’t know were there. Next, decide what you want to keep and what to throw away. You may also consider having an estate sale to sell off larger items such as pieces of furniture.
#7 Take Your Time
The most important thing to do after you inherit a home is to take your time deciding what to do with it, if you can afford to do so. You can either move in yourself, sell it, or rent it out to tenants. However, don’t rush to make a decision. Carefully weigh your options and speak with advisors to see what will be best for you, your family, and your financial situation
When looking to list your house, speak with a real estate expert to see what the market is like, and ask how long other homes like yours have been waiting to sell.