How to sell a house in an estate sale

Every year in Quebec, thousands of people are confronted with the complex reality of selling an estate following a death. It’s an emotionally-charged moment involving important decisions, and can raise many questions for heirs. 

Understanding the estate sale process makes it easier to navigate these sometimes tumultuous waters. Our real estate brokers in Joliette are ready to shed some light on the steps involved, and to help simplify this ordeal for families who have suffered a loss.

What is an estate sale?

An estate sale occurs when an inherited home needs to be sold, often with the end goal of dividing the value among the heirs. This fairly common situation often involves properties that have been uninhabited for some time. In 2022, several thousand Quebecers had to navigate an estate sale, so we feel it is important to explain how this type of home sale works.

The liquidator is responsible for the sale

A liquidator, also called an executor in some cases, is the person responsible for managing and liquidating the assets of a deceased person according to the terms of their will, or, if there is no will, according to the laws of succession. 

The liquidator’s main responsibilities include taking charge of the deceased’s assets, paying debts and taxes, distributing any remaining assets to the heirs, and carrying out all administrative steps linked with closing the estate. 

The liquidator plays a crucial role which requires integrity, impartiality and efficiency. They must respect the wishes of the deceased and the interests of the heirs. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially when the liquidator may themselves be emotionally burdened by the death of a loved one.

Steps involved in the sale of a house after a death

There are many steps involved in an estate liquidation. Here the main actions required when selling a house as part of an estate.

Gather essential documents

You will need a declaration of transmission signed before a notary. To draw up an official declaration of transmission, a notary will need several documents:

  • The death certificate
  • The will
  • Prof of the deceased’s marital status
  • The deed of sale proving that the deceased was the owner
  • Property location certificate.

The notary may also ask for other documents to sell a house. Once you have the declaration of transmission, you can sell the house as any other home.

Selling without a legal warranty means less stress

To avoid legal complications and to ease your mind, it’s possible to sell an estate house without a legal warranty of quality, at the buyer’s risk.

This clause simplifies the sale for heirs who may not know everything about the property’s condition. It also limits the heirs’ liability in the event of hidden defects or problems that were unknown at the time of sale. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t inform buyers of defects you do know about, but it provides protection against any problems that you are not aware of.

Selling without a legal warranty can also attract buyers looking for renovation opportunities at a potentially below-market price, which will compensate them for the additional risks they assume.

Preparing the house

Renovating for resale, especially if it’s an old house, is often a good idea. However, the cost of renovations will fall to the heir(s). It’s usually better to increase the value of the house through simple, inexpensive gestures like cleaning and small repairs.

Use a broker and benefit from an outside perspective

In the emotionally-charged context of selling a home after a death, we recommend relying on the help of a real estate broker for an outside perspective. A broker can provide a real estate appraisal, and also some objectivity regarding the property based on their expertise in the market.

A broker can help heirs to take a step back and make informed decisions, as the broker has no emotional attachment to the property. They will manage the technical and administrative aspects of the sale, and participate in negotiations to guarantee a fair property valuation and efficient sale. It is very common for a liquidator to enlist the help of a broker when selling an estate property.

Our Remax real estate brokers are here to help

If you have to sell a house after a death in the family, and you are located in the Lanaudière region, know that we are here to help you through the process.

We can also provide related information as needed. Guillaume Tremblay’s Remax team is familiar with the sale of houses within estate sales. Contact us, and you will not have to face an estate house sale alone.

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