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What to do when heirs of an inherited home do not agree on how to sell?

Three heirs have inherited a home. Two of them wish to sell through a real estate agent. The other heir, a minor being represented by her father, wants to sell by owner. Can the 2 heirs out-vote the other and force to use a real estate agent? If not, how does one handle this situation? Any help would be appreciated.
  • February 21 2013 - US
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Answers (9)

Profile picture for blub blub blub
Clearly costs are an issue here.  Hiring an attorney would be another costs and not sure how it would resolve the holdout situation.  This is a decision that needs to be made between the parties and, in this case, an attorney can not force anyone to do something they don't want to do.

The house has been sitting vacant for 3 years.  How much has it costs to maintain the house during that time?  Taxes, insurance, utilities etc. for a 3 year period.  How much will it cost to continue to maintain the property.  The longer the property sits, the more it cuts into any money to each party.

Is there a mortgage on the property?  Each month that the mortgage needs to be paid is also cutting into any money due the parties.

I would have a sitdown with the father and explain that you have tried it his way and now you need to try it your way. Go over these issues in support of getting the property listed with an agency. 

At this point any profit is already going to be split 3 ways.  The longer the property sits, the more it costs to maintain.  Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered. It's free money to the parties.  The longer you wait the less you get.
  • February 22 2013
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This really is a legal question which you should have an estate attorney review. Once a clear decision is made on who is the person reasponsible to market the property, interview several agents for the most effective marketing strategy. In my experience most heirs want a quick sale with a property that has been properly priced to efficiently resolve the cost of carrying the property, and to lower the amount of frustration and family tension that can often accompany assests in an estate. Research has shown that properties that are professional listed with an agent sell for higher prices and close faster than for sale by owner. Perhaps presenting that info which you can find on-line might persuade the one hold out to list the property.
  • February 22 2013
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Is there already a attorney involved with the settlement of the estate?
 I would seriously recommend using a qualified full time real estate agent to market the property. Selling it yourself can be very time consuming and difficult and be compounded when you have 3 people making decisions. In fact when you do choose an agent there shold be one person out of the three that is the go to person. I have been involved with sales of homes where the soon to be divorced couple have fought each other through me and it was difficult to get a direct answer from either of them. Compound that with 3 different perspectives and things could get complicated. The job of the agent is to get the most money in the shortest time frame with the best terms for the homeowners. 
 Good luck 
  • February 21 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
There seem as if there are many options.   You've identified the reason, therefore, the three of you need to agree on a timeline for the FSBO to happen.  Record it, get everyone to sign.  

But, at the same time get everyone to agree on what happens with an agent selling the property.

There are costs incurred when selling, perhaps you could help it move forward by the other two promising (in writing) to each toss in 1% of the costs from their personal budget.   Why 1%? If the commission is 6%, 3% will go to the buyer's agent.  If the property is sold FSBO, 3% is like to go to the buyer's agent.  So, the battle is over the 3% that would go to the seller agent.   1% for each of you, okay, there are ways to deal with this and two of you want to move on so maybe could eat it.

It is clear from the tone of your post that the tensions are high, so hiring a third party mediator is likely to be very helpful.
  • February 21 2013
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Profile picture for Ofe Polack

I do not know if you all reside close to the property, but  the best way to move forward should be inviting two or three listing agents to provide you with a comparative market analysis of the property.  Ask each Realtor to provide a list of their marketing plan for the property.  Then give the heir who wants to do it FSBO a deadline, in writing.   Request of him, a list of how he intends to market the property as well.  If the property has not sold within the deadline given, then the two of you will select a listing agent and carry on.  If the house has been idle for 3 years, keeping peace in the family may be worth another 90 days or so.

  • February 21 2013
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Selling by owner could loose money for the family as there are many factors that go into pricing / marketing a home that often result in higher sales prices. It would be ideal to have all parties together for a meeting with the Realtor who is offering services. Hearing the benefits of using a real estate professional and upside to the return may be enough to sway # 3 into moving forward with the use of a Realtor. Kevin R Kieffer Broker Associate Keller Williams Realty offices in Danville & Walnut Creek, CA
  • February 21 2013
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Profile picture for user7059987
wetdawgs,

You are correct is your guess on why #3 is holding out. We have already given him a chance, after he stated that he would handle everything, and 31 days after agreeing to let him handle the sale nothing was accomplished, not even a For Sale By Owner sign in the front yard. The house has sat idle for 3 years now and it would seem that the 5-6% invested in an agent is well worth getting rid of an still asset. 
  • February 21 2013
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My best advice is to speak with a real estate attorney. You may need one to navigate through the transaction whichever way you decide to go. Regards, Suzanne Looker
  • February 21 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
If the three heirs cannot resolve it between the three of them, then consider hiring a mediator.    Mediators work to get to the core issue, such as why is there a difference of opinion in this case.   Perhaps it is money and #3 thinks that selling by agent cuts 5 to 6% off the top.    Perhaps there is a way to work around the money issue. 

I may be all wet in guessing reasons why, but perhaps the two with a different opinion need to get to the bottom of why rather than the symptom.

Be thankful that all three to selling the house!

  • February 21 2013
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