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How to sell an inherited apartment step by step?

It is common to think that the will is enough to be the owners of the inherited house. But did you know that it is essential to follow a legal procedure to be awarded the inheritance?

Below we can see what are the steps to follow to sell our inherited house :

  1. Obtain the required documents
  2. Accept the inheritance before a notary
  3. Pay inheritance taxes
  4. Register the apartment in the Property Registry
  5. Put the house up for sale

Can the house be sold without accepting the inheritance?

No. It is not possible, under any circumstances, to sell the house without accepting the inheritance , since the legal owner of the property will continue to be our deceased relative until we make the change of ownership, according to the succession order established by law.

Now, once we go through the whole process and we are the legal owners of the house, we have total freedom to sell to whoever we want. Of course, if we want to save costs, it is advisable to carry out the process as soon as possible and, preferably, before the twelve months of having ownership have elapsed, since otherwise we will have to pay, among other things, the maintenance costs of the living place.

But what do we have to do to receive the house as an inheritance? Next, Blue World City explain in detail how to accept an inheritance and each of the steps to follow to sell an inherited apartment .

Step 1: obtain the documents to inherit the home

As we have said, you cannot sell a property without accepting the inheritance and to achieve this we will have to collect a series of documents throughout the process. Although, there are some papers that constitute the starting point and that will determine the type of procedure that we will have to do before the notary to accept the property as inheritance: 

1. Death certificate

  • Where is it requested?  in the Civil Registry of the place where the person who bequeathed us the inheritance has died.
  • Requirements to make the application : application form, name, surname and ID of the deceased person and the volume and folio number of the death registration, in the event that these data are known.
  • How much?  is free.
  • How long does it take?  between two and fifteen days, depending on the Civil Registry where the request is made.

2. Certificate of last wills

  • What is it?  It is the document that proves if the deceased has left a will and in which notary he has done it.
  • Where is it requested?  in the territorial management of the Ministry of Justice of the corresponding autonomous community.
  • Requirements to apply : application form, original death certificate and payment of the corresponding fee.
  • How much?  the rate is priced at 3.78 euros.
  • How long does it take?  10 business days and must be requested within 15 days of the person’s death.

3. Authorized copy of the testament, if it exists

  • Where is it requested?  in the authorized notary who appears in the certificate of last wills.
  • Requirements to apply : death certificate and certificate of last wills. 
  • How much?  it depends on the number of pages that the original will has and its age. 
  • For example, the authorized copy of a will granted in 2001, requested in 2018 and with an extension of three pages can cost approximately 30 euros.
  • How long does it take?  It depends on the notary, but it does not usually take more than a week.

Step 2: accept the inheritance before a notary

Once we have compiled the first documents and we know if our relative has left a will or not so that we can inherit the house, we must go before a notary to be able to own the property :

 If there is a will and we are the only heir

 In this case, it will be enough to draw up a document of acceptance of the inheritance and that the notary legitimizes the signature of it so that it is valid. 

 If there is a will and we are several brothers or heirs

In this case, the partition deed -or partition notebook- that collects all our data, the inventory of goods and the distribution of the same must be signed and raised before a notary . To do this, we must have the deed of the apartment at hand and it is advisable to request a simple note before the Property Registry, to verify if the property has loads or mortgages or to know if the house is correctly registered.

 If there is no will

Here it will be necessary for the notary to determine who the heirs are as established by law . To do this, we have to prove the relationship by presenting some documents, such as the family book and birth certificates. Once the requirements are compiled, we will have to sign at a notary’s office:

  • The certificate of declaration of heirs
    • We must bring two witnesses (known to the deceased) with us to the signature to declare that they are not aware of the existence of other heirs
    • From the time it is signed at the notary until the notary declares who the heirs are, approximately 20 business days elapse
    • It can have an approximate cost of between 250 euros or 300 euros (plus VAT). Although the final amount will be determined by the number of heirs, the value of the estate, the documents that are attached, etc.
  • The partition deed of inheritance or partition notebook

What happens if one of the heirs refuses to accept the inheritance?

Since the entry into force of the Voluntary Jurisdiction Law in 2015 , if one of the heirs obstructs the acceptance of the property, the other heirs have the possibility of going before a notary to send them a notification act.

Once the heir who does not want to accept the inheritance receives the certificate, he  has 30 calendar days to state whether he accepts his part of the house or renounces the inheritance . If you do not reply within this period, the legacy will be considered accepted by default.

Step 3: pay inheritance taxes

Disbursement of taxes is essential to be able to sell the inherited apartment, since without taxes paid there is no will or deed of inheritance that is worth . In this sense, those that we must pay are:

1. Inheritance tax

  • Where to pay : in the tax office of the autonomous community where the deceased had his habitual residence.
  • When to pay : within 6 months of death.
  • How much is paid : the amount will depend on the value of the estate to inherit, the degree of kinship of the heirs, the multiplier coefficient and the percentage of tribute marked by the corresponding locality.

The inheritance tax payment can be extended for another six months if we make the request within the first five months of the filing period. However, if our intention is to sell the apartment quickly , it should be done within the established legal period.

2. Municipal capital gain

  • What it is : a municipal tax levied on the increase in the value of the apartment from the moment the deceased person acquired it, until we receive it as an inheritance.
  • Where to pay : in the town hall where the inherited apartment is located.
  • When to pay : within 6 months of death.
  • How much is paid : the amount will depend on the cadastral value of the home, the number of years that the deceased has owned the property, the date of death, the coefficient of increase and the percentage of tax defined by each city council.

Step 4: register the apartment in the Property Registry

To register the new ownership of the apartment we must go to the corresponding Land Registry. There we have to present the receipts of having paid or deferred taxes and all the aforementioned documentation to register the inherited house .

But what is the price of registering a home? the cost of this procedure is relative, since it responds to a multitude of factors such as, for example, the number of assets to be registered, their value, the number of heirs, etc. Although the amount never usually exceeds 1% of the value of the property .

Step 5: put the inherited apartment up for sale

Once the apartment is registered in the registry, it is ours, so we can easily contract the real estate or proptech agency of our preference to manage the sale of the house received in inheritance.

How does a real estate agent help me to sell an inherited apartment?

The intervention of a real estate agency can be very helpful when selling an inherited property. Especially when:

  • They are several heirs and they do not agree with each other to sell the apartment or on the terms of the sale. 
  • The heirs live in other cities and not where the property is .
  • None of the heirs can be in charge of carrying out the procedures to sell the house between individuals : hanging the notices, obtaining the housing documents or making the visits.

In this way, the chosen real estate agency can act as a mediator between the parties and help to reconcile the interests of all the heirs with the aim of selling the house quickly.

Likewise, in the event that people live far away or cannot take charge of the sale, the professional can take care of all the paperwork from start to finish . Of course, always informing each of the interested parties of the status of the operation to avoid misunderstandings.

How long does it take to sell an inherited apartment?

In general, to sell an inherited house we must take into account the time it may take to be the owners of the home and, then, the period in which we can transfer ownership of the apartment:

How long does it take to accept an inheritance?

The time it can take to complete the entire process is relative . This will depend, mainly, on the following factors:

  • Agreement between the heirs
  • Organization level to collect the documents
  • Speed ​​in completing procedures and paying taxes

Taking this into account, if, for example, there are several siblings and there are no differences between them to distribute the inheritance,  the process can last between two months and six months .

On the contrary, if the relationship between the parties is conflictive and, for example, the brothers do not agree on the division of the apartment or if one party does not want to sell, the closing of the matter can literally take years . Especially if there is no other choice but to go to court to divide the inheritance.

Now, if the matter is one of the heirs, he puts up “problems” and does not express his will to accept or reject the inheritance, as we have mentioned, with the entry into force of the Voluntary Jurisdiction Law, the rest of the heirs can request Application to the notary and he has 30 calendar days to decide or he will receive it by default. 

Do you have to wait a while to sell the inherited house?

Legally there is no minimum time to sell an inherited apartment. Once this is in our name, we can advertise the sale on real estate portals whenever we want. However, if from the beginning the idea is to sell the property, it is advisable to do so before 12 months of owning it . 

In this way, we avoid paying the municipal capital gain again , since this is a tax that we must assume both when inheriting and selling an apartment . If we do both transactions during the same fiscal year, we can save ourselves from paying this tax again.

Inheritance tax, what should I know?

As we have mentioned, this tax must be paid in the place where our relative had his habitual residence . To calculate the fee that we must pay, we must take into account:

  • The real value of the estate at the time of receiving the inheritance
  • The reductions and bonuses established by the autonomous community, according to the degree of kinship
  • The tax rate and the multiplier coefficient established by the corresponding autonomous community

But how to know what is the real value of the house that our relative has left us? To do this, we only have to do a home appraisal . This will be worth us to demonstrate to the tax agency the real price of the apartment in the market and we will pay the tax according to this value .

We can also use the tax value of the property, which is what the autonomous estate gives us . Each delegation makes its own evaluations according to its criteria and they are available to citizens on the websites of these organizations.

However, this value does not always take into account the market situation and is usually lower, so in the first instance we will pay less for inheritance tax, but later, when selling the house at its market price, we may have to pay a lot of personal income tax for the profit obtained from the sale of the inherited home.

What value should be used to pay less taxes?

  • If our intention from the beginning is to sell the house, it is advisable to declare in the inheritance tax the market price of our recently inherited apartment . In this way, if we can sell at that price, we will not pay personal income tax for the sale.
  • On the other hand, if we want to keep the property, we can use the tax value to pay less tax. However, we must bear in mind that if in the future we decide to transmit it, this can generate a large capital gain to pay in personal income tax when selling the house. In addition, according to Grupo Hereda, a law firm specializing in inheritance, we must ensure that the price we use is always the minimum tax value or is above it. Otherwise, the Treasury can investigate and claim the difference from us.

What happens if I don’t pay inheritance and gift tax?

If we do not pay the tax within the established period (six months) and we do not request an extension to extend the payment period, we could face the following sanctions, in accordance with the provisions of the General Tax Law :

  • If it is settled after the first six months after death, but before the ninth, 5% more of the tax fee must be paid
  • If it is settled before one year of death, the fee will increase by 10%
  • If it is settled once the year has passed, but before 18 months after death, there will be a 15% increase in the tax rate
  • If 18 months of the established period are exceeded, there will be a 20% surcharge

It must be taken into account that in addition to these sanctions, the Treasury may demand the payment of the corresponding default interest. Of course, this tax prescribes four years after death . If in this period the voluntary presentation of the tax has not occurred and the Administration has not returned the settlement to us, we do not have to face the tax.

What taxes must be paid for the sale of an inherited home?

To sell an inherited home we not only have to pay the two mandatory taxes: inheritance and municipal capital gains. Once we have sold our recently inherited apartment it is possible that we obtain a profit, so new obligations arise with the Treasury :

1. Income Tax

Yes, once we have sold the inherited house we have to pay personal income tax for the capital gain obtained from the sale . As we have mentioned previously, to make the calculation, we must take into account the value declared in the inheritance tax.

The difference between this and the sale value of the apartment will give us the capital gain obtained. Then, to this result we must apply the percentage of tax stipulated by the Treasury, which currently ranges between 19% and 23% . 

2. The municipal capital gain

Do we have to pay twice the municipal equity to sell an inherited home? This will depend on the time that has elapsed between when we inherited the house and when we have sold it.

As we have mentioned previously, if we sell the apartment within the same fiscal year in which we inherited the apartment, we will not have to pay the municipal capital gain for the sale of the house again because, basically, there has been no increase in the value of the land. 

But, if we sell the house after the year, we will have to pay the municipal capital gain. Although, taking into account that this tax is calculated based on the cadastral value of the home and the number of years that we have owned the property, we will only have to pay for the capital gain produced from the moment we inherit the house until we sell it .

What procedures do I have to do to sell the inherited apartment?

To sell an inherited home we need, in addition to all the documentation that we had to manage to accept the inheritance (deed, tax receipt, etc.), a series of papers related to the home itself and that they will ask us at the notary to sign the sale.

For example, we will need the simple note of the house (to demonstrate to potential buyers that the house has changed ownership), the energy certificate (it is mandatory in all Spain), the habitability certificate (if it is required in the Autonomous Community where the floor is located) or the ITE certificate (if the farm is more than 50 years old).

That is to say, in general, property newswill have to manage all the documents that they request for any type of sale, with the difference that we must have on hand those that show that we have completed the process of acceptance of the inheritance.

Can the apartment be sold if one of the heirs does not want to?

Yes, the apartment can be sold if one of the heirs does not want to. To do this, we have three ways:

  • The person who does not want to sell can keep the part that corresponds to each of the co-owners and pay them financial compensation in exchange , in what is called condominium extinction. This procedure is commonly done to end co-ownership situations, such as, for example, the sale of the family home after a divorce .
  • If this is not possible, because there is no agreement between the brothers or heirs, those who want to transfer the house can sell their percentage of the property to a joint venture . These are companies that are dedicated to buying parts of a home and it is a totally legal procedure and protected by the Civil Code. Of course, it involves selling the house for between 35% and 50% of its market value.
  • A third possibility consists of initiating a judicial procedure to divide the common thing and carry out the sale by public auction . This route is usually expensive and can mean that the apartment is sold to the highest bidder and below its market price.

Do I have to hire a lawyer to accept an inheritance house?

We can do this procedure on our own. Especially if there are few assets to be distributed and if there is full agreement between all the heirs . In this way, we can save attorney’s fees. Although, we must bear in mind that we will have to take care of:

  • Collect all documentation
  • Write the deed that corresponds to our type of inheritance if we have legal knowledge
  • Fill out the forms to pay taxes

For this reason, it is vital that we be very careful , that we investigate the requirements very well and that we ask the notary for advice before signing anything. So we can avoid headaches.

In the event that we are talking about an inheritance without a will, with a large amount of assets, with many heirs or in which, rather, there are marked differences between the beneficiaries, it is advisable to hire a lawyer . This not only has the legal knowledge to carry out the procedures, but can also mediate between the parties. In addition, in the event that the negotiations fail, this professional will know what judicial mechanisms to activate to distribute the inheritance of the apartment, if for example, one of the parties does not want to sell.

We must bear in mind that these fees are related to the procedures to accept the inheritance. The procedures and documents necessary to sell the apartment, once we are the registered owners of the house, will have an additional cost. Although, it is advisable that,