How to Prepare a Home for Sale Within an Estate

Losing a parent or sibling is one of the most heartbreaking life events. When going through such a traumatic time, it makes it even worse to have to start thinking about settling their estate. There are many different things that need to be addressed, and when you add preparing a house for sale, it just multiplies the stress and strong emotions that arise.

It’s even overwhelming for estates when all possible preparations and plans are in place. There can also be unexpected surprises or things you never considered having to handle, like previously unknown hoarding tendencies or massive collections that you have to figure out what to do with to get the house ready to sell.

It’s often beneficial to work with organizing companies that can provide immense help and relief during such stressful times. At NEATSPACES, we offer estate and pre-listing organizing and decluttering services. We have experience offering a compassionate and professional hand during such sentimental and overwhelming experiences.

In this guide, we offer some tips and guidance for preparing a house for sale within an estate, including some of the common situations people find themselves dealing with with loved one’s houses and belongings and how to effectively stage these homes for listing.

Handling an Unexpected Death

Losing a loved one is always difficult, even when you know it’s coming. Losing a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly can leave you completely unprepared to deal with their estate at a time when you’re still dealing with intense feelings of shock and loss.

Make sure you read over any documentation carefully before starting an estate cleanout so that you’re aware of any specific wishes. In circumstances like these, having help can be a massive benefit as you may not have discussed specific wishes with the person beforehand. Support from a friend, family member, or an estate cleanout service can be highly beneficial.

A well staged living room by organizational experts ready for listing.

Your Parent’s or Sibling’s Home

In an ideal world, people will have had discussions about their wishes, left instructions, and have documentation like a will. But life does not always go as planned. Even when it does, unexpected emotions can surface when cleaning out a loved one’s home. After all, part of cleaning out the house is working through your own feelings and experiencing the grieving process. Because of this, there isn’t one set of rules or instructions, especially because you never know what kind of situation you’ll be left with. Below, we’ll go through some typical scenarios people find themselves in when starting an estate cleanout.

You may have an emotional attachment to many of the items in your loved one’s house, but buyers are not going to be interested in the majority of them, so ideally, you will clear out much of the furniture and personal belongings in the home and only leave behind enough furniture to aid in the sale.

When selling a home owned by an older relative or a house occupied for several decades, extra work is often involved in preparing it for sale. This can be one of the most challenging parts of selling a deceased parent or sibling’s home.

Just remember, not everything needs to be done at once, take breaks where you can, be kind to yourself and engage your support system.

Typical Senior Home

The typical senior’s home is full of collections and collectibles. They still have their kid’s high school and university memorabilia either up on the walls or stored in boxes in the basement or attic. There are probably dedicated areas for hobbies and other activities.

It can be challenging to decide what to do with all of this stuff and feelings of guilt can surface if you don’t want to take these things. If you need help handling collectibles and collections, NEATSPACES has plenty of experience and can help you determine whether to sell or donate these items. We’ll do our best to connect you with dealers or collectors, so you’ll know your loved one’s collections will continue to be loved and appreciated even after they’re gone.

Stuck in Time

A home stuck in time is easier to identify straight away as walking through the door feels like you’re walking into a previous decade. Picture outdated wallpaper, unrenovated kitchens and bathrooms, antique furniture and collectibles. Often people with these homes had a depression-era mentality that they ‘might need it someday.’ But inevitably, you’re the one that gets stuck cleaning it up.

Not-So-Fun Surprise

The thing about hoarding tendencies is it’s often difficult to tell they’re present. It can often come as a complete surprise to find out your loved one was hoarding items, and many are surprised to learn that almost anything can be hoarded — clothes, books, magazines, newspapers, tools or gadgets, crafts or hobbies, papers, or more. Either way, it often falls to the people left behind to clean and clear out these items.

Enlisting the help of ​​organizational experts is extraordinarily helpful where hoarding tendencies are present. Our experts have the experience and knowledge to take an overwhelming amount of items and transform them into organized groups ready to be recycled, donated or thrown away.

How to Prepare

Preparing the actual house to sell will depend on your particular situation. Some people need a quick sale, while others prefer to take their time. Either way, there are strategies to implement for staging your home to increase value and get the highest possible price.

Remember, clutter and disorganization always make spaces look smaller than they are. Working with a pre-listing decluttering service that has experience working with estate listings is beneficial to help you clear clutter and excess furniture and stage the home in a way that complements the best features and downplays any weak areas.

When selling a home, the preparation is the most crucial part. You can either leave the house primarily as is and leave the wallpaper and dated furniture. Or you can invest in fixing it up, strip the wallpaper, put on a coat of fresh paint and properly stage. 

Another strategy can be to stage in place. In this case, you can use the existing furniture and some of the décor and stage it effectively while still in the context of an otherwise dated home and décor. This is worth considering if an all-in makeover isn’t possible for whatever reason and can be a reasonable middle-ground.

On the opposite end is the all-in approach – investing in a complete makeover to maximize the house’s potential value. Some of the more common fixes to increase the value of a home may include:

  • Removing old furniture
  • Applying a fresh coat of paint
  • Updating old window coverings
  • Stripping wallpaper
  • Changing carpeting or other outdated flooring
  • Installing new fixtures
  • Updating lighting

There are costs and benefits to each approach. By staging in place, you save money but may lower the home’s potential value. Fixing up and fully staging the house may cost more, but you’re likely to see a greater return on your investment. This decision can also be impacted by the location of the home and the neighbourhood it is in.

No matter what strategy is chosen, enlisting the help of a pre-listing decluttering service is necessary. Our experts can aid in clearing clutter, removing excess furniture and providing suggestions for staging, whether you’re planning to stage in place or do a total makeover. They’ll be able to offer tips for turning the house into a backdrop where space is maximized, and the house’s potential is front and centre.

If you’re left with the task of cleaning out a loved one’s home and getting it ready to sell, let the experts at NEATSPACES help you with the job.

For downsizing, moving and organizing services in the Greater Toronto Area contact us today!