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Selling a Decedent’s Real Property: Insider Tips for Executors and Administrators

Selling a Decedent’s Real Property: Insider Tips for Executors and Administrators by Tom Sciacca{Read in 7 minutes}  It’s not uncommon for one of the Executor’s or Administrator’s first jobs to be determining Estate assets, which may include a condo, co-op, brownstone, house, building, or other real property. Sometimes the Will leaves the property directly to beneficiaries who will continue residing in the property. However, it is also very common for the Executor or Administrator to sell the property, as beneficiaries often prefer receiving cash (or when there are expenses or creditors’ claims to pay).

For the purposes of this article, I thought it might be interesting to have another professional perspective. Therefore, I’ve invited my colleague, Jeff Goodman, who is a licensed real estate agent with Halstead Property, to talk a little bit about this. I’ve asked Jeff because of his experience in handling Estate sales. Jeff also has an immense amount of experience in representing both sellers and buyers in all different purchase points and neighborhoods within New York City.

Tom Sciacca:

So Jeff, thank you for joining me today.

Jeff Goodman:

My pleasure.


When an Executor or Administrator contacts you about selling a home as an Estate sale, what special considerations exist?


Estate sales often involve different issues than when living homeowners sell their own homes. One is, there’s not as much of an ego affirmation in the result of the sale because it is not their own home. It’s just something that’s sort of fallen out of the sky and they don’t have the same kind of relationship with it.

Similarly, one of the things that will happen when you have someone who’s selling their own home is that they’re much more willing to put at least some money into bettering the property. It could be anything from regrouting a bathroom, to skim coating the walls, or redoing the floors. The homeowner has an ego affirmation seeing their hard work and efforts result in higher offers and the best possible sales price.

What I found with Estates is beneficiaries usually have little interest in investing money to improve the property, even for a paint job.


Well let me ask you a little bit about that, Jeff. I would imagine that typical sellers must decide whether to show their home vacant or furnished. Is that something you’ve experienced and what usually happens?


Usually for an Estate sale, the Executor or Administrator has emptied the home and I show the property vacant. While there are advantages to showing a staged property, the condition in which the Decedent kept the property might not be conducive to that. Most buyers of Estate sales anticipate a gut renovation, so a vacant apartment is not an issue.

For buyers who want something more turnkey, it’s very important for the buyers to visualize what living in a place would be like:

– Will the dining room accommodate a certain size dining room set?

– How would their living room furniture fit?

– Where would the entertainment center go?

– Can the bedrooms fit king or a queen sized beds?

Buyers who anticipate doing a gut renovation generally can see these things without having to have a property staged.

Estate sale buyers often anticipate a substantial renovation, and for these buyers it’s better to have an empty, clean space. We also advertise that it’s an Estate sale so the potential buyers who view the property already know that there’s a substantial renovation job that will likely have to be done.

The simplest and cheapest improvement for an Estate sale is to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls because it makes the home brighter. When buyers come into a home they are impacted by the brightness. Having a fresh coat of off-white paint, even if an apartment is vacant, can make a big difference.


Let me ask one final question. What makes Estate sale shoppers tick? Are they looking for a steal? Are they worried that the property might be haunted?


Generally not a steal, but buyers recognize that if a home is an Estate sale there’s value in it, and perhaps a bargain to be had. The segment of the buyer’s market that’s willing to undertake substantial renovations is a smaller universe of people than those who just want something that’s pretty much turnkey.

There is a segment of the market which wants to create their dream home, and have the money to do it. One of the things that an Estate sale affords those people is that they’re not buying somebody else’s renovations. They’re not buying a certain color backsplash that they would have done differently. They’re not buying a certain kind of tile in the bathroom.

One important thing to do when you sell an Estate property is to price it in a way that buyers know there is value, so you maximize the number of people who come to see it. And hopefully, you can generate multiple offers as a result.

As far as haunted apartments, I’ve actually heard about them, but I’ve never encountered them personally. I work in an office with 180 agents. In the ten years I’ve been there, I have never heard one of my colleagues talk about a home being haunted. I will say that I’ve been on a number of walking tours of neighborhoods where the tour guide will talk about a particular home where there have been accounts from multiple people reporting the same kind of supernatural phenomena after somebody’s died. But I’ve never encountered it.


This is really helpful information Jeff. Thanks. You mentioned you have walking tours.  What are they about, and are they open to the public?


People in my business help people buy and sell property. I take my business more seriously in that my work assists people in creating lives and lifestyles in particular neighborhoods. And New York has GREAT neighborhoods.

About five years ago, I decided to create an event program that was consistent with my commitment to have people live in great neighborhoods, so I began to host a series of historic walking tours. I don’t give the tours, I host them, and I hire exceptional tour guides. These tours are more focused on the history and flavor of the neighborhoods rather than real estate. They have become very popular; I typically get between 60-80 to attend each tour.


Click here for a short video on Jeff’s walking tours, and here for why he started the tours.

Let me finish up with some general information that my readers may find useful. Jeff has been good enough to compile a list of things that any seller should consider when listing a property for sale. View it here: Halstead Property Sellers Guide

For more information feel free to contact me or Jeff at the information below:

Jeffrey Goodman
Lic. R.E. Salesperson
Office:(212) 381-2280
Mobile:(646) 306-4761
[email protected]