Buying a pre-lived, pre-loved property.

The idea of an estate sale estate sale doesn’t simply illustrate the selling of the contents of a person’s home. Estate sales also occur when an entire property is put up for sale by an “estate,” usually comprised of siblings, children, or close friends. The term “estate sale” is reserved usually for high-end properties whose owners have had some level of clout or celebrity, such as well known musicians, artists, and the like. Estate sale properties are left behind by a person whose legacy is worth bringing into the conversation or worth mentioning to attract potential buyers.

Is the idea a little bit uncomfortable?

Maybe. It can go both ways. It depends on your personality, the reason for buying, and other factors.

There are people who find the idea of visiting a residence whose occupant has recently died a bit creepy. We have admittedly seen properties that reminded us a bit of a memorial shrine to the previous owner. They can have a creepy feeling in the air. Things left untouched for long periods of time, dust particles floating through the air. You can almost hear the dramatic musical buildup playing in the background.

At the same time, there are buyers out there who love the idea of buying a home or apartment whose previous owner decided to live out their last days in, especially when the person is someone who they hold in high regard. A property that stands as a testament to a life well lived. The homes of this nature that were owned by celebrities and artists are often high end and decorated in unique ways.

Need an example?

A shopper in New York City by the name of Steve Fabrikant, a fashion designer, went shopping and viewed a 4 bedroom apartment previously owned by Freddy Mercury of Queen.

In 1992, Mr. Fabrikant purchased the apartment on Sutton Place that had been the late musician’s New York City home.

Upon visiting the apartment, Mr. Fabrikant found a dozen of Mr. Mercury’s platinum albums, along with silver metallic curtains, a ’50s-era chandelier, and a jet-black kitchen.

“What was creepy,” said Mr. Fabrikant, who has completely re-vamped the property since then, “was not that he had died, but how he had decorated the place.”

Freddy Mercury apartment in New York City
Here is what Freddy Mercury’s former apartment looks like now, after being redone by its current owner.

Advantages of buying an estate sale property

There are some inherent advantages of purchasing a property that is being listed by an estate.

A blank canvas

You have the chance to snag an amazing space without having to pay for the additional costs of someone else’s renovations. They are completely cleared out. Of course the more permanent installations are often still present, but usually, there it’s easier to redesign a space from the ground up the way you like because it is barren and empty by the time you buy it.

A compelling narrative

Buyers, especially in affluent or well-known celebrity areas, love buying homes with a narrative. When you buy a home by means of an estate sale, this is often exactly what you get. The sellers of the property often have a history to go along with it that makes buyers feel like they are buying a little piece of history.

A motivated seller

Estates mean motivated sellers. This goes for the collection of a person as well as their home. For various legal and financial reasons, the owners of an estate are usually looking to sell it as quickly as possible. We all know the advantages that come along with a “buyer’s market.”

When a person dies, there are things that need to be paid on their behalf. Couple that with the expenses like maintenance on the property, utilities, and insurance, and you have yourself an owner who is very motivated to sell.

Disadvantages of estate sale property buying

Of course, as with all things, advantages come along with some disadvantages.

Properties are often very reasonably priced on the surface but require a ton of renovations. Many of these homes have not been updated in 20 or 30 years. Think about the amount of modernization is required just on the electric side alone. Old-school has its undeniable charms, but they can come at a cost when you need to run wires into every room of the home for your modern electronics and computers.

Keep improvement costs in mind.

Assuming you like the space, the views, and the overall vibe, it is wise to bring your architect or contractor along for a second look.

Complicated selling process

It’s a complicated process to buy an estate sale property. That’s why companies like ours exist in the first place.

Real estate agents who sell estates specialize in those types of properties. Brokers who handle estate sales are well versed in the intricacies of probate. They also experience the added challenge of dealing with owners who are still grieving.

The executors of the estate can be numerous. As with anything, partners don’t always agree. Add the personal factor regarding the estate of a loved one, and an agent or estate sale planner has a fragile situation on their hands.

But, as mentioned earlier, that is why companies like ours are around. If you have recently found yourself the executor of an estate, there are people who can help you with every aspect of the process.