Inheriting property can be overwhelming, There’s help for that.
By Jill Draper
An unexpected inheritance doesn’t always mean easy money. Sometimes it comes in the form of an older home in disrepair, rental property with tenants behind in payments or the collections of a hoarder. It’s no wonder survivors sometimes freeze and lose the ability to make logical decisions.
“It can be overwhelming,” says Eddie Van Buskirk of Kansas City Legacy Properties. His company helps guide clients through the process of finding contractors for small remodeling jobs, junk hauling and estate sales, plus suggestions for attorneys, financial advisors and even pastors for grief counseling.
“Most people feel like they have to handle things themselves, but that’s not the case,” says Van Buskirk, who grew up in the Red Bridge neighborhood. Instead, he helps clients “take baby steps, one at a time,” to deal with inherited property before roofs leak or pipes freeze or break-ins occur.
Van Buskirk says he provides a range of options—”not just a lowball offer”—customized for each case.
“Many people assume that I flip houses, which I do, but that’s not a primary part of my business,” he says. He describes his main role as providing expert guidance and convenient selling options for those who inherit property, often houses valued at $150,000 and under that involve probate, foreclosure or short sales.
Tricky situations he has seen include a sibling’s forged signature for approving a house sale, an heir who was adopted but without legal paperwork, rental property that required evicting squatters and a deceased man’s roommate who needed help moving to subsidized living.
“When there’s money involved, people get really aggressive. It can get kind of ugly,” he says.
When his own uncle died, his aunt worried she could not afford the monthly mortgage payments for a house that might be “upside down,” or worth less than what she owed. He coordinated a cleanout of the house, helped list her valuables with a consignment service and connected her with some neighborhood buyers in order to achieve the quickest top-dollar sale she wanted.
Van Buskirk gets paid by listing properties with a realtor partner (he’s studying to get his own real estate license this fall) or he asks for the first opportunity to buy the property if the owner wants cash. If there are multiple heirs and one person wants to keep the house, he refers the refinance to his lender. In turn, they pass business his way. Sometimes he just offers suggestions for repair services, explaining, “If I’m able to help enough people, eventually it will come back.”
He began his business in 2017 and finds clients by word of mouth, his website and by reaching out to heirs using probate records. “I start every conversation by saying, ‘I am not an attorney,’ but I understand the court system, the nuances and how to co-navigate the process with attorneys.”
With a background in sales, Van Buskirk says he learned a lot by working for someone with a real estate company. He also worked in construction for six months.
Nobody wants to think about dying, he says, but we are all going to do it, and one lesson he passes on is to arrange a living trust that specifies where your children will go if you die unexpectedly. The trust becomes irrevocable, he says, but a will can be contested. He also suggests carrying at least a small life insurance policy to cover debts.
Van Buskirk says the people he’s helped go through the process of dealing with a family death and the property left behind almost always comment, “I wish I had known about your services sooner.” Most families just want to move on hassle-free, he says.