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How to determine the fair market value of inherited property?

Thomas Miller
28.10.2022, 10:39
8 min
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There are many circumstances such as disposing of properties under a will or probate and planning to sell an inherited home where you need to know the value of an inherited home.

Finding the best and most appropriate market value of an inherited property depends on a blend of factors such as current market trends, home appraisal value, and valuation of equivalent homes in the region.

The value of an inherited property, how to determine a fair market value of a property, how long it can take, and the process experts use to generate an accurate valuation of inherited property are some of the common questions we'll cover in this article.

What is an inherited property?

This refers to property acquired through a will or through laws of descent. It includes material assets such as:

  • real estate, 
  • investment accounts, 
  • security holdings, 
  • retirement accounts, or 
  • cash that is handed down to an heir(s) after a person dies without a will. 

Usually, when a person dies, only spouses and relatives are entitled to their property. There are three ways one may inherit property. 

A property can be inherited 

  • if the property was held under ‘joint tenancy, the surviving owner inherits automatically, 
  • if the property was owned outright by the deceased, 
  • or jointly by owners who have died, the terms of their will(s) set out who inherits or 
  • if the property was owned as a 'tenancy in common', who inherits the deceased person's share is decided by the terms of their will. 

When a property is inherited, the beneficiaries may decide to sell the property and must do that by considering how much the property was worth at the time of inheritance. To execute this task correctly, a property appraisal is required.

What is an Appraisal? Who handles a property appraisal?

  • The best method to obtain a fair market value of the inherited property is to first get a property appraisal. This includes the process of creating an estimated value of the inherited property. 
  • There are mostly two types of people who are competent enough to provide an exact assessment of what an inherited property is worth. They are licensed real estate appraisers or certified pricing strategy advisors or real estate agents. 
  • This entire process can be handled more efficiently by a real estate appraiser who ensures the inherited property sells at a fair market value which is the price a property would sell for, given a reasonable amount of time, and assumes the buyer and seller know about all the details of the property. 
  • A real estate appraiser charges an appraisal fee and is more qualified and can be obligated to determine the value of an inherited property.

Duration of determining a death home appraisal

  • When someone passes away, the estate or its assets must be evaluated before any property is divided in accordance with inheritance law or the terms of the will. 
  • Real inherited property is not like openly traded stock or other items. This is because it fluctuates in value, and no historical public data is accessible. Hence, there is a need to appoint a professional appraiser with expertise and experience in your local area. The appraiser correctly evaluates past comparable properties and market trends to give an accurate historical appraisal.
  •  If not too much time has passed, determining the worth of the property at the time of death is simple. The necessity for a property appraisal for a long-ago date can nevertheless occur in a variety of circumstances. Therefore having a certified licensed appraiser with local experience is crucial. 
  • Date of death appraisals is typically ordered 2 to 6 months after a person's passing.

Determining fair market value

Within the context of income tax regulations, the idea of fair market value is crucial. If the sale or purchase consideration specified in the agreement is less than the fair market value of the property, both the buyer and the seller will be affected. We will go over what fair market value is in this situation and how it affects buyers and sellers. 

  • For inherited property, it is important to know the cost basis which is the monetary value of the property at the period of the owner’s death. 
  • Another method an appraiser uses in determining the fair market value of inherited property is by using the sales comparison approach. This process involves 
  • picking similar properties to the inherited property you are trying to establish a fair market value for, 
  • and creating changes to each comparable property, as required.
  • In picking similar properties to compare to the inherited property, an appraiser looks for properties within the same area the property of the subject is within. Also, these properties must have been sold within a span of six months.  
  • This time frame may also be shortened to three months. When perfect comparables can't be chosen, which happens most of the time, the appraiser must use their expertise and training to choose appropriate properties. It is also important to make some necessary adjustments to the comparable properties by adding or subtracting values to fit the qualities of the inherited property.

Significance of a fair market value

  • The income tax regulations impose taxes on any profit made from the sale of the property. In most cases, the profit is calculated by subtracting the acquisition and improvement costs from the sale consideration. 
  • You may profit from indexation on the expenditures if the property has been owned for longer than two years.
  • Parties may concur on a fair market value if certain requirements are met. It suggests unrestricted, unrestrained market activity and is frequently observed in formal contexts.
  • Both taxing agencies and insurance firms frequently use it. Based on this value, tax officials calculate the amount of taxes due, which are subsequently levied against the owners of certain assets.

The distresses of a wrong fair market value

Undervaluing or overvaluing an inheritance can have some very serious penalties legally. This relates to tax charges and to the beneficiaries as a whole. When inherited property is valued wrongly by being overvalued. It may be given a higher cost basis than it should originally have thereby leading to taxes being underpaid. If a property is also undervalued, the opposite happens. Which leads to an overpay of taxes on the entire property. A flawed appraisal puts you at risk of legal action and therefore should be avoided.

Whether or not a federal estate tax return was filed, the fair market value basis requirements apply to inherited property that is included in the decedent's gross estate. These standards also apply to property received from foreign individuals who are not subject to the UK estate tax. If a decedent passes away with assets whose worth has decreased, rather than increased, there is a "step-down" rather than an "up." The base is then reduced to the value as of the date of death. Planning well requires attempting to prevent this loss of foundation.

Valuing a house for probate

The complete process of managing a deceased person's estate or possessions is known as probate. After paying any taxes and bills, this entails:

  • organizing their money, 
  • assets, 
  • and goods and distributing them as an inheritance. 
  • If the deceased person left a will, it will specify who they wanted to handle their estate's administration. This individual is referred to as Will's executor
  • Before a probate starts, the executor must apply for a Grant of Probate which is a legal document that gives the authority to handle a dead person’s properties. 
  • Usually, probate takes about a year but the exact amount of time depends on the size and intricacy of the estate or properties.

How can a residence be valued for probate?

A residence can be valued in a variety of ways for probate purposes. Some people examine the prices of comparable homes in their street or the neighbourhood, while others go straight to an estate agent or property surveyor for a more precise valuation. 

Main features for probate

Valuing a house for probate usually depends on three main features which are; 

  • the estimated value of the estate, 
  • the inheritance tax allowance of the person who died, and 
  • whether the property or estate is being left to a spouse or suitable charity. It is important to get a property appraisal from an RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) property surveyor if the estimated worth of the home is near to or above the inheritance tax threshold.

How can you estimate a property’s value yourself?

Another option to consider during the valuation of a house for probate is to estimate the property on your own. You could assess the property's value yourself if you have a general notion of its worth and are confident it won't push the estate's value close to or over the inheritance tax threshold. This is possible by searching for the property on RealAdvisor for an estimate or by searching for related properties in the local area to work out how much it could be valued. RealAdvisor is a free property valuation tool and website that provides estate agents with advertising through their websites and affiliated partner websites.

You are now prepared to submit an application for probate after determining the worth of the house, other assets, and liabilities in the estate. For further assistance, contact us at RealAdvisor for more information.

Determining the fair market value of an inherited property

  1. An inherited property refers to land or house acquired through a will or laws of descent.
  2. The best method to obtain a fair market value of the inherited property is to first get a property appraisal which includes the process of creating an estimated value of that. 
  3. The estate or assets of the deceased must be evaluated before any property is divided in accordance with inheritance law or the terms of the will.
  4. Undervaluing or overvaluing an inherited can have some severe penalties legally, in relation to tax charges and on the beneficiaries as a whole.


Is it expensive to get a property appraisal?

The cost of an appraisal is relative depending on the size or type of property. This can cost anywhere between $500 to $2500.

Is there a difference between fair value and market value?

Yes, there is. Fair value is the amount that both the buyer and the seller willingly agreed upon. On the other hand, market value refers to the cost of an asset that is established by market supply and demand. It is the price at which shares are traded on a stock exchange.

Thomas Miller
Thomas Miller has been a real estate agent for over 4 years now, when he is not in the field, he is dedicated to his second passion, writing, especially in the real estate market.
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