Help, I inherited my parents house! (2023)

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At some point in our lives, many of us will inherit our parents’ home.  For some, inheriting the family home is a blessing.  For others, it’s just a lot of work.

Even before that day comes, we begin to realize that one day, we may be responsible for having to deal with our parents’ home when they pass.  This was definitely true for Amanda Reid.

Reid, is a property manager from Toronto, Canada.  Even before she inherited her family home, her time with her parents began to change as her parents got older.

Ms Reid used to enjoy Sunday dinners at mom and dads.  However, as her parents got older, reality began to set in.  Instead of enjoying the family time together, she began to look around her parent’s living room.  She became overwhelmed with anxiety looking at a giant ‘To Do’ list that was waiting for her.  She says, ” Instead of arriving and being fed an abundance of delicious food, I was served up with hearing about the leaking pipes, the dated carpets, the newest roof leak, and the list goes on.”

I inherited a whole bunch of junk

Piles of junk in parents house“On the day that I was blessed to inherit my childhood home,” says Ms Reid,  “I stood outside wide-eyed while staring at the 1970’s suburban back-split.  It had literally never had a dime put into it.  ‘How am I supposed to pay to fix this up?’ I thought to myself.

“As I stepped into the untouched home filled with filth, I was reminded of the show ‘Hoarders’. While some may say they find ‘treasures’ I like to call it for what it is… Junk. Just piles and piles of unneeded Junk.”

Reid isn’t alone.  Surviving families are often “burdened with more than funeral arrangements, probate and grief”, according to a Newsweek article entitled What happens when a hoarder dies,  The surviving family members must also deal with the stuff their parents accumulated over the years, stored in boxes, garages and storage units.  As one heir described it, “I inherited a whole bunch of nothing”.

Note:  See our related article on inheriting a hoarder home.

In order to save money, Reid and her partner decided to sort through and do the clean up themselves.  They ordered an industrial size disposal bin and had it dropped off in the driveway of her parent’s home.  Then they began the long and emotional process of sorting through her parents’ belongings.

“It took about a month to sort through the items and likely caused the divorce.  Just kidding,” Reid says.  “That was inevitable”.  They took anything that was of value and put in the garage and had a giant yard sale.  She says, “the neighbors still talk about the garage sale to this day”.

Note:  See our related article 10 Questions to ask Estate Sale Company before hiring them.

The fix up begins, and expenses mount up

I asked Ms Reid what kind of repairs her parents’ home needed.  She replied, “anything and everything you could think of.  Roof, furnace, AC, mold removal, it had a pool that looked like a swamp.”  Then there was the outdated interior.  “Think along the lines of having bright blue carpets in the bathrooms”, Reid added.  I’m guessing there were green and blue toilets and tile in showers too.

Many people have gotten a false sense of reality from television about the cost of repairs and remodeling a home.  Ms Reid admits that she was no different.

She says, “When I used to watch the home renovations shows, I would think that the home owners were silly to act surprised when their budget turned into double the cost. HA! I was no different with my $25,000 original budget.  I was the home owner that thought, ‘Nahhh this will be different – I can stay within the budget.’   Ya okay. Try adding on another $30,000 on top of that to start… that was just to be able to make it livable.”

I used to watch the home renovations shows, I would think that the home owners were silly to act surprised when their budget turned into double the cost.

Do we keep it or sell it?

Once the property was fixed up, Reid was faced with another dilemma.  Like many, Reid debated whether she should move into her newly renovated home, sell it or rent out her inherited family home.   Ultimately, Reid and her partner decided to move into her parents’  home and rent out the townhouse she already owned.  Reid, a seasoned property manager herself, hired a property management company to take care of her rental  Then she and her partner began the process of making her former parents’ home their own.

Was it worth it?

When asked if she would do it again, Reid’s emphatic answer is “Absolutely not”.  the entire process was “emotionally exhausting, and the renovation was never ending”.  She ways that “to this day, the house does not feel like it’s ‘mine’. It feels like my parent’s house.”

Would I do it again? Absolutely not.

I suspect Ms Reid is not alone in her conclusions.

Further reading:  What to do if you have inherited a home.