Maximize Value & Minimize Headaches When Helping Executors Sell a House

A Triangle estate attorney contacted a New England woman last year to tell her she was the executor and sole heir of an estate that included a house in Cary. She asked the attorney for help with selling the home, especially because she was out of state.

“It can be a challenge for estate attorneys to find the time and all the resources necessary to smoothly prepare and sell real estate in an estate sale,” said Chris Edwards, a Triangle real estate broker who specializes in handling estate and probate properties for estate attorneys and executors.


Judge Dan Hinde

The New England woman who was the executor would have had to make half a dozen visits to Cary, but the estate lawyer connected her to Edward’s company. “Selling the real estate in cases like this one requires services that go way beyond just listing a property to maximize its value for the estate,” said Edwards. “It’s more than simply putting a sign in the yard. The broker should understand the probate, estate and foreclosure process.”

Full of Stuff

“The Cary house was full of furniture, old clothes, antiques, art, a sauna and a 2019 Jeep in the garage,” recalled Edwards. “One of the biggest pain points for an executor is physically preparing the home to sell. This can include an estate sale, clean-out, moving and storage, shipping the contents of the home to family members, remodeling, keeping utilities on, and a detailed cleaning.

“The budget is dictated by the amount of money available in the estate,” he continued. “The Triangle home real estate market is hot and will be staying that way for years to come. The real estate broker should know what repairs and improvements based on the budget and local market conditions should be done to maximize the value of the home.”



No Calls from the Carpet Guy

Trying to find contractors to work on a house who are well-qualified, reasonably priced and can complete work on time can be a daunting challenge. The broker should have a good network of subcontractors to handle all the necessary tasks.

“The broker will coordinate the work to be done, supervise the job and approve the payments by the estate. The executor shouldn’t have to worry about getting a call from the carpet guy,” said Edwards.

When the house is ready to go on the market, the broker should provide the executor with a comprehensive marketing plan to ensure every listing looks the best online and in-person.

Outstanding Money Owed

Another common pain point can be if the homeowner was behind on mortgage payments or property taxes at the time of their death. Edwards recently helped the daughter of a Clayton man who owed the lender $72,000 in mortgage payments, fees and penalties when he passed away.

“I coached the heir on how to go to the Wake County Court and halt the foreclosure proceedings. She showed the court my listing agreement and they stopped the foreclosure for 60 days while we prepared the home and got it sold. She paid the lender $72,000 and put about $170,000 in her pocket,” recalled Edwards. “Before she contacted me, she was considering selling it to an investor for much less just to be done with it. Executors may leave a lot of money on the table by not going through the process of preparing a home and selling it on the open market.”

No Drama

“There can be a lot of drama when you have multiple family members involved in decision-making. It can put the executor in the unenviable position of having to explain what repairs are needed and how much it will cost. The broker should be experienced at working with family members to ensure the process goes smoothly and efficiently.”

In addition to residential property, a real estate broker should also be able to handle the sale of raw land and commercial real estate which may also be a part of the deceased’s estate.

“Ultimately, the broker should create a business model focused on helping the estate attorney and the executor achieve the best possible outcome.”

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