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Selling Real Estate As Executor

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The Executor Adviser from

The Executor Adviser is an advice column created by for Legacy.'s experts aim to help readers with questions about executorship and provide comprehensive, free online resources to guide executors through this complex process.

As an executor, you have probably realized that clearing out a house and distributing the contents is a very different task than actually selling the house itself. 

We spend countless hours dealing with — even worrying about — our late loved one’s belongings and too often don’t spend enough time preparing to sell the house. 

Of course, you can consider selling the house yourself, but most will rely on the services of a skilled realtor. They can help you get the best price possible and assist with preparing the home for sale, negotiating and closing the deal.

At, we always suggest that estate executors take time early in the process to consider what selling any real estate will include. We also offer these five tips: 

1. Talk to a professional early in your executor role

As you can probably imagine, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to a house selling for a good price quickly. Everything from the time of year to whether the house is staged can make a difference. A good real estate agent can help you make decisions that maximize the money made from the sale. Also, talking to a real estate agent early can help you set your expectations properly. For example, if you learn that a home is going to sell for a lower price or the proceeds aren’t going to cover other estate expenses, you can plan better as executor. 

2. Choose the best realtor for the estate

You want to choose a realtor wisely. Look at things like the real estate agent’s record of selling homes. How long do their listings stay on the market? What percentage of the asking price do they ultimately sell the house for? You will also want to be sure your real estate agent is an expert in the particular neighborhood where the property is located. For example, a realtor may have a great track record in a different neighborhood in town but has not sold anything in the neighborhood where the estate property is located. Never hesitate to ask for references so you can talk to other sellers the realtor has represented. And, know that it is perfectly acceptable to talk to several realtors before making a decision. This is an important decision and you’ll want to make the best choice possible.

3. Consider an appraisal

Every estate settlement process is different, but if you have any question as to the market value of the value of the property even after a realtor (or two) has done a market analysis, it can be a good decision to have an appraisal done to confirm the value of it. It should cost $400-500 and will give you a professional’s data-based opinion as to the value of the real estate. It can help you in setting a listing price, give beneficiaries confidence in your listing price. It can also be helpful if there is conflict between you and the beneficiaries later in the process. 

4. Be fair with all beneficiaries

In your role as executor, you know you have to be careful to be fair. But when dealing with the sale of a house, it can become tricky. For example, what happens when one beneficiary wants to purchase the house? Do you let that beneficiary name the price and purchase without putting the house on the market? Remember that as executor, you work to ensure the best for all beneficiaries. You can’t give an advantage to any particular one. The appraisal mentioned above can be particularly helpful in this scenario. Even if other beneficiaries don’t want the home, an executor should ensure that the house is sold for a fair price so all beneficiaries get as much as possible when the assets are distributed.

5. Communicate

The home is often the largest single asset in the estate. Because of this, you will find that all beneficiaries will have a strong interest in your plans related to selling it and the timing of that process. They may also have ideas and opinions worthy of your consideration. An open line of communication with all beneficiaries will be important to get the best result in this process and to ensure that the beneficiaries understand that you have delivered them an outstanding result in the process.

Selling the deceased’s real estate is one of the biggest and potentially most challenging parts of being an executor. Taking a thoughtful approach and working with a professional not only helps make sure you sell the house for what it is worth, it also can prevent squabbles now and later between beneficiaries. 

Have a question about executorship? Get an answer by sending an email to [email protected].

About the Author: Patrick O'Brien is CEO and co-founder of, a free, comprehensive online resource that helps executors manage their responsibilities and duties in this complex role. The free tools include a helpful step-by-step interactive guide for executors and invaluable tips on everything from planning a funeral and keeping beneficiaries happy to dealing with grief and managing estate assets.


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