The task of dealing with a house after the owner has passed away can be emotionally hard. You will have to plan on clearing out its contents, ensuring that it is in the right order and listing it for sale. Here are some of the tips that you should keep in mind when emptying the house and preparing it for the market.
Forward the mail and change the locks
Before you even start thinking about the selling process, you will have to plan to clean the house. And the first step in cleaning the house involves securing the premises. Perhaps, you do not know the number of people that have keys to the deceased’s house – cleaners, friends, house sitters and delivery people. Instead of trying to collect the spare keys, you just need to change all the locks. That way, you will start enjoying your sleep throughout the night.
Also, a piled-up mailbox and periodicals will tell the vagrants, thieves and vandals that the house is empty. Therefore, you have to forward all the emails to your office or home by changing the address. The post office forwards Express, Priority and the first class mail and packages for at least 12 months and forward the publications for only two months. Update the address annually to prevent expiry of the forwarding. If you can get to the deceased’s email account, you can request the sending of emails to your account. The emails will help you know the creditors and the current payments. It will also help you cancel the monthly or annual subscriptions.
Search for legal and financial papers
Gather the financial documents you can get, including the cash. Some people stack their money in strange places to keep it safe. You are likely to find it inside crawl spaces, the bottom of drawers and under the mattress. Look for the documents in the file cabinets, drawers, under the bed, boxes and on the computer. Some of the documents you need include:
- Homeowner’s insurance policy
- Life insurance policy
- Bank statement
- Letters from friends
- Bill receipts
- Stocks and bonds
Shred all the sensitive documents, particularly those containing the Social Security Number.
Continue paying the bills
Even though you might not need some services anymore, you will have to continue paying for them. For example, you will have to continue paying the homeowner’s insurance premiums. Keep the utilities on and tell the services, including maintenance companies and gardeners of where to send the invoices. If the deceased had a reverse mortgage, notify the company and request for additional time to settle the estate before they try to foreclose the property.
Sort the personal belongings
This part of cleaning out a deceased’s house is the most emotional. However, it will hasten the whole process if you are able to sort all the belongings in three different piles or use colour-coded stickers to tag them. Tag them as:
- Items to keep
- Items to dispose of and
- The items to sell or donate
If the family members disagree on the distribution, you will have to set aside all the disputed items until you are through with the sorting and their emotions have settled. After that, take turns by selecting a memento or item. At times, you will need to trade most items for the treasures you desire. If that is not possible, go for valuables like jewellery, antiques and art.
Prepare the property for sale
Clearing out the deceased’s house of the belongings and personal effects is always the first step towards making the property ready for listing. After that, you will have to get it market-ready. Here are the steps to follow:
- Furniture: get rid of the furniture pieces if they are very old. Do not leave them inside the house because they will distract the sales.
- Remove the wall hangings
- Floor coverings: consider the condition of floor coverings. If there is any covering on the wood floor, strip it off and then refinish it. Replace all the cracked ceramic tiles and clean the carpeting or buy a new one.
- Window coverings: if the house has out of date window coverings, remove them. Windows will look better without the worn blinds or heavy drapes.
- Walls: some people paint their house walls once and they never do that again. Therefore, you will have to patch and repaint all the walls.
- Ceilings: replace the light fixtures if they are out of date, patch cracks and paint the ceiling.
- Remove the pet-related items. Pet signs can be a turn-off.
- Clean the house from top to bottom. Wash the windows, the ceiling fan blades and the cabinets.
Preparing the house for sale can be time-consuming, but if you do it well, you will benefit from a smooth and simple transitioning. There are services available to you to help you through the whole process. Paul’s Rubbish Removal is here to help you clean up junk and rubbish to prepare the estate for sale to potential buyers.
Contact our team on 0407 125 125 for an obligation-free quote for a deceased estate clearance today.