What to Do If You Inherit an Old House

What should I do with it?

Deciding what to do with an old house can be tricky. First, determine the house's condition and value.
Deciding what to do with an old house can be tricky. First, determine the house's condition and value.
© iStockphoto/Carla Lisinski

In order to decide if you should keep the house or sell it, you need to ask yourself some questions. What kind of shape is the house in? For a house in total disrepair, it may be cheaper to tear it down than renovate it. Then, you can try to sell the property it's on. When you inherit a house with good bones and some cosmetic issues, you might want to consider fixing it up to sell or renting it as income property. You may find the house requires extensive renovation that you don't have the time or money to oversee. If this is the case, you may want to sell it as is, even though this may mean accepting a lower price. In this market, there's no guarantee that you would recoup your investment, so it's really up to you to decide what's best for your personal financial situation. Before you decide to keep the house, consider its distance from where you live. If it's too far away, you need to think realistically about how often you can get there and how you'll provide for the house's upkeep. You should familiarize yourself with the area's real estate -- a local realtor may be able to help guide you in the best direction. You definitely need one if you're planning to sell, but a realtor can also let you in on local property values, the house's estimated worth and whether or not it's a good rental candidate. The good news is that deciding to sell means you'll only have to pay capital gains on the difference between the sale price and the house's market value.

Related Articles


  • Hayden, Faith. "Inheriting a house begins with the paperwork." Washington Examiner. Apr. 28, 2010. (Aug. 16, 2010)http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/economy/real-estate/first-time-buyers/Inheriting-a-house-begins-with-the-paperwork-91979319.html
  • Kroll, Karen M. "You've inherited a house: Now what?" Bankrate, Inc. May 20, 2004. (Aug. 16, 2010) http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/real-estate/20040520a1.asp
  • Sichelman, Lew. "What to do when you inherit a mortgage problem." MarketWatch, Inc. June 25, 2010. (Aug. 16, 2010) http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-to-do-when-you-inherit-a-mortgage-problem-2010-06-25
  • Toto, Christian. "The inheritance included the house." The Denver Post. July 6, 2008. (Aug. 16, 2010) http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_9789819
  • "You've inherited a House with a Reverse Mortgage -- Now What?" Nethery & Ofseyer, LLP. February, 2007. (Aug. 16, 2010) http://www.ofseyerlaw.com/lawyer-attorney-1180377.html