Anonymous asked in Business & FinanceRenting & Real Estate · 3 months ago

Preparing mom's house for sale?

My father died in 2015. My mother is near the end receiving hospice care. Both were heavy smokers. Both had lung cancer. They estimate she will pass away within 48 hours, maybe 72 hours at the most doctors estimate. 

Our financial situation is bad. Her financial situation is bad too. If we sell the house for $140k, which is the low end for this market for a house this size, it will clear all her debt. It will leave me, her sole heir and only child presently not incarcerated about $10-15k. When my stupid brother is released from prison, I plan on giving him $250 per month for 3 months to help him get him re-established. Then give him $750 once he is in an apartment for the security deposit. He was removed from the will years ago.

The problem is the realtor says it is not showable. I have a trailer. I plan to remove most of the junk in the house right after she passes. At least the house will be clear. I plan on washing the walls with Simple Green. A few ounces per bucket. The walls are heavily stained. Was the kitchen, bathroom and floors with Simple Green too. I can borrow a Rug Dr. machine from a friend. He started a carpet cleaning business three years ago with this. Now it is his back up. I can't afford to hire him, unless he is willing to wait for the house to be sold. He said it would be about $200 to clean the carpets.

COVID-19 has left me very short on cash. I have a small 401k from work with about $10,000 in it. I really don't want to borrow against it. 


My car is not running. She stopped driving a long time ago. I am driving her 1991 Ford Escort sedan. When it breaks down, I probably will not fix it. I am a poor person and doing the best I can.

Thanks for letting me vent. Right now is high stress for me.

15 Answers

  • 3 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'm sorry to say that I don't have good news for you. Not being a market professional, your estimate of the value is not realistic. Any time a property is not showable, it means that the property is not going to sell at a price within the current market range. It does not mean no one will buy it, it just means it is something an investor with a profit motive will buy.

    Therefore, it is highly likely that the sale will NOT cover all of your mother's debt, and you should not expect to receive anything from the sale.

    To minimize the work and stress and to maximize what you can get out of it, instead of looking for the 'we buy houses' people, look for an auction company that can sell both the real estate and the contents - as long as what you can expect to clear from the sale will pay off any debt against the property itself. Your mother's other creditors can wait, and get what they get.

    Understand that you will get nothing.

  • 3 months ago

    I just want to say I'm very very sorry to hear you are going through all of this. I agree with what anonymous said, just put it on the market and don't pay for anything. It sounds like you have a hard enough burden on your shoulders with your parents' passings and you don't need that financial burden on you yet. And I would like to send a hug your way. Hug. 

  • JJ
    Lv 7
    3 months ago

    Bypass the realtor, since they are obviously not interested. Do a web search for "how to sell your house without a realtor" (without the quotes) - also, with that web search you'll find companies that will offer cash for your house with only an exterior viewing.

  • 3 months ago

    Once you get the house cleaned, if you can REMOVE the carpeting, do so. You don't need a pro to do that. Hopefully there will be flooring underneath you can use. Carpet is one of the WORST things you can leave in a house where smokers have lived. No matter how much it is cleaned it will still smell bad. If you can't remove it, then make sure you clean it TWICE. 

    Clean the walls. Remove all trash. Clean the windows, too. Smoke tends to cling to the glass. Remove curtains and any other textiles. 

    None of this should cost you any money to do. You can buy white vinegar instead of the simple green and it will do a fine job--and be a lot cheaper.

    You  may have to take a slight loss on the property--or less than you want--even after cleaning. 

    I'm sorry for your loss and your situation. You can come out of this with some relief. 

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  • ?
    Lv 7
    3 months ago

    Simple Green won't remove the years of smoking stench and wall stains. Cleaning the carpet just once won't do it either.  Any time it is damp outside, the smoke smell will be very noticeable.  The walls need to be sealed with Kilz or similar product and then repainted.   Is there any life insurance that could give you cash to get started?  If she doesn't have a will, you'd better get one fast.  You don't want this house tied up in probate for months since you'll still have to pay utilities, taxes, and insurance on it until it sells.

  • ?
    Lv 6
    3 months ago

    You could go to one of those "We buy houses" companies, but they will low-ball you.  How fast do you need to sell?  Getting $ fast means getting less $.

    I think you have a decent plan.  Get it cleaned out.  Wipe down the walls (and open all the windows to air it out), and clean the carpets as best you can.

    If you want to paint, see if there is a recycling center in your area.  Our county offers free leftover paint and cleaning supplies for free.

    You may want to consider a new agent.  If they already has doubts they're not going to put in their best efforts.

  • Anonymous
    3 months ago

    That sounds horribly stressful. I'm so sorry you're going through this at the same time as financial hardship. Please accept a COVID-safe hug for how hard this all is, and for the loss you're facing with your mom's death in the immediate future.

    Unfortunately, fixing up a house to sell takes money you don't have. Washing the walls and cleaning the carpet are part of it, and they'll make it show better, but that's probably not enough to get you out of the low-end selling price for its size.

    Some of the other things you can do are to have it completely empty, no junk of any kind anywhere. Have a lamp in any room that doesn't have overhead lighting. (Thrift store lamps, or one you borrow.) Clean it until every surface sparkles, including inside the oven and refrigerator.

    Are there any possessions you might not want for yourself that you can sell?(List them free on Craigslist or NextDoor.) Because if you can get together the money for paint in a neutral color, it will go a long, long way toward making the place perk up. (With smokers in the house, you'd still want to scrub the walls first.) Some areas have a low-cost paint supplier that mixes together partials cans in the came color range to produce usable paint in enough quantity to do rooms--for maybe a third of what custom mixed paint costs.

    If you have friends who ask if there's anything they can do, speak up. Ask them to scrub walls, working in different rooms for safety. Or to buy you paint, or bring you take-out after a hard day fixing up the house. Whatever you think they can afford, in both time and money.

  • Anonymous
    3 months ago

    Do not spend any of your own money on this.   Do not agree to pay someone else.  You can't afford it and neither can your mom.

    Do not plan on being able to sell the house right after mom passes.   Settling an estate takes a few months (years in some cases).

    Any house will sell if it's priced correctly.   The realtor wants you to invest your own money so it sells for more so that they get a bigger commission.    Forget it.   Just put it on the market as-is and get rid of it when you are allowed to do so.   Someone may buy it to knock it down anyways.

    Do not plan on inheriting anything because most likely you aren't going to.   Mom's social security stops when she passes but the bills like property tax don't.

  • 3 months ago

    Can you repaint the internal walls? Even if you can do a few coats of white / cream, that would probably improve things. 

  • R P
    Lv 7
    3 months ago

    My condolences on your mother's impending passing.

    What is your actual question?

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