In today's real estate landscape, one of the first steps many individuals take when inheriting their parents' home is to put it up for sale. While the decision about what to do with a family property often involves both emotional and financial considerations, the escalating costs of renovations, property taxes, and utilities are making it increasingly challenging for adult children to hold onto inherited real estate, according to financial advisers. In addition, higher home prices and mortgage rates have rendered it impractical for heirs to buy out their siblings in many cases.
The allure of selling inherited homes has only grown stronger in recent years due to the surge in home prices. If inheritors can sell a property in a sought-after location for a substantial sum, the proceeds from the sale can offer financial security and help fund long-term goals such as retirement. Financial advisers emphasize that, for inheritors, cash reigns supreme in terms of immediate financial benefits.
While sentimental value may tempt some children to hold onto their parents' home, practicality often prevails, given the financial burden and simplicity of unloading a property. A survey conducted by Charles Schwab revealed that nearly 70% of individuals expecting to inherit a home from their parents plan to sell it. This trend is exemplified by the case of Heidi Whaley and Melissa Mills, who inherited their parents' home but ultimately decided to list it for sale. Although they experienced a tinge of sadness in letting go of the home where they grew up and which hosted cherished memories, the practicalities of maintaining a 4,000-square-foot house outweighed sentimental attachment.
Real estate agents assert that rising costs play a crucial role in heirs' calculations when deciding whether to retain or sell an inherited property. For instance, the escalating expenses of insuring coastal homes in the Southeast have driven many heirs in that region to sell. Moreover, inflation has made repairs and upkeep on older properties increasingly expensive, making newer properties more appealing due to their lower maintenance and insurance costs.
Interestingly, the trend of inheriting homes and opting to sell is part of a larger generational shift among inheritors. Estate planners note that some tangible assets, including homes, no longer hold the same value as in the past due to changing tastes. The younger generation of beneficiaries often has different preferences when it comes to home styles and furnishings, favoring modern and contemporary designs over older traditional ones. Consequently, the prospect of renovating a home to align with their tastes becomes a costly deterrent.
While the inclination to sell the family home is prevalent, vacation homes and secondary properties are more likely to be retained by heirs, at least for a certain period, particularly if the location is desirable. However, inheriting a vacation property requires careful consideration of maintenance cost-sharing and the development of a usage schedule that satisfies all parties involved.
Tax implications remain a significant factor influencing the decision to sell an inherited home. Financial advisers emphasize that taxes often drive heirs to sell the property sooner rather than later. Many heirs opt to sell because of the carrying costs associated with homeowners association fees and taxes. The burden of these expenses, especially when the heirs live far away from the property, makes selling a more appealing choice.
When it comes to buying out siblings and keeping the inherited property within the family, it is crucial to establish a fair method for valuing the home. Estate planning experts suggest using the value reported on the estate tax return if it is recent, or obtaining multiple appraisals and taking an average. This ensures that all family members involved in the inheritance are treated equitably.
Another critical aspect to consider is the financial feasibility of retaining the property. With mortgage rates currently hovering around 7%, heirs must evaluate whether taking on a mortgage is a viable option. Financial advisers caution against making emotional decisions and recommend thoroughly assessing the financial implications of holding onto the inherited property.
Regarding taxation, a home's cost basis resets to its market value, typically at the date of death, for measuring future taxable gains. Any increase in value after the owner's death is subject to long-term capital gains tax, which is usually lower than short-term gains tax rates. However, if the property is sold quickly, there may be minimal gains or even no taxable amount.
In the end, the decision to keep or sell an inherited home is a personal one, influenced by a combination of emotional attachment, financial considerations, and practicality. The rising costs associated with maintaining and renovating older properties, coupled with changing preferences and the financial benefits of selling, have led many heirs to choose the path of selling. Ultimately, consulting with estate planners and financial advisers can provide valuable insights and guidance to make an informed decision.