The only thing certain in life is death and taxes … and probably how emotionally taxing death is when liquidating real estate. Selling real estate is stressful enough for some folks without compounding it with the emotional burden of liquidating the remaining assets of someone dear or even your own assets after losing a spouse and choosing to move on.
Real estate agents are in a unique position when they’re called for basic advice and to find out where to start, what to do. In the last few months I’ve had a few close friends, family members and acquaintances call because they simply didn’t know where to start. My advice is generally to be patient, be brave enough to ask for advice and to hire experts to represent their best interests or those of the estate.
Be patient: Because every circumstance is different, the first thing I tell people is to not act in haste. Don’t sell in a panic just because you feel you need to get rid of the real estate as soon as possible.
There’s a huge difference between deciding to liquidate real estate and selling to purge the horrible feelings and be rid of the state of affairs everyone involved is experiencing. Emotions can easily become the largest hidden expense of selling real estate when grief is involved, whether it’s selling the assets from a death, divorce or unemployment. It can become a business decision clouded by heartache. Many sellers become rushed and don’t take the time to pause and analyze the financial benefits of holding or selling their real estate. Money is thrown away when there’s panic and a decision to sell, as soon as possible, at a price that is below market.
Ask for advice: Besides speaking with attorneys and real estate agents, ask for the advice of trusted family members, close friends, clergy or even a grief counselor. While there are many organizations offering free counsel, making an appointment and paying for private grief counseling to help with important decision making, will pay for itself. Plus, it’s a third party with nothing to gain when there are family dynamics and added stress pulling from different directions.
Find experts to help: There are a few interviews that should take place when you’ve decided to liquidate real estate. If there isn’t an attorney involved, it would be wise to find a great real estate attorney. Also, interview three or more real estate agents to verify the state of the market and qualify the suggested market price and to gauge the experience and ability of the real estate agent. Always write down the suggestions and advice so you can weigh and balance the answers of everyone you’ve interviewed and spoken to.
Last but not least, it is easy to become overwhelmed. If you’re feeling uncomfortable when hiring someone to help settle the estate or hiring someone to sell the real estate, pump the brakes. Remember the old adage to measure twice, cut once. It’s always more costly to make a bad hire than to carefully screen for an experienced, qualified hire and that includes settling the final affairs of liquidating real estate.
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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.