Cemetery Plots: What to Do if You Have Unwanted Burial Property

Consider the following scenarios:

  • A man with a wife and three children, living in San Diego, CA learns that his recently deceased mother’s will bequeaths to him two cemetery plots in his hometown of Beaver, PA.  The plots, which are located just a few cemetery plots away from his grandparents, were purchased by his parents years ago.  This man has no intention of ever using these burial properties, and is at a loss for what to do with them.
  • A woman living in Jacksonville, FL, who was widowed at the age of 50, has recently been fortunate enough to find love again at the age of 62.  Though she looks forward to spending her remaining years with her second husband, she has not lost or forgotten her love for her first husband either.  Her second husband proposes the idea of pre-planning their funerals.  She realizes that she will have a problem, because her first husband is buried in West Palm Beach, FL, several hours from Jacksonville, and she has an already purchased burial plot located beside him.  Her second husband’s family all live in Jacksonville, and so naturally he would like to be buried there.  She decides that she will have her remains cremated then spread over both gravesites.  But the problem remains over what to do with the already purchased burial property in West Palm Beach?

In both of these cases, unwanted cemetery plots are at risk for going forever unused.  Some people don’t realize how valuable these unwanted cemetery plots truly are.  Though there is a monetary value associated with the burial property, there is also a value for some other family who will someday want to be able to be buried in those cemeteries.  If they don’t know that there are cemetery plots available, they won’t be able to make use of them.

If you have unwanted cemetery plots, it’s important that you don’t let your lack of knowledge of how to sell burial property keep you from making those cemetery plots available for someone who truly wants them.

What stops most people from selling their unused, unwanted burial property is lack of knowing how to find the right buyer for the property.  Selling burial property is not like selling your home.  You can’t put a For Sale sign on the cemetery plot and hope that a buyer comes along.

Some people try to sell unwanted cemetery plots through classified ads in the newspaper.  This is a terrible mistake, because frankly there are few people combing the classifieds every day, just hoping to be able to find burial property like you have listed.  The cost of running the ad will quickly eat up whatever profit you might have been able to make on the sale of the cemetery plot.  Why?  Because it can take years to have the right buyer need your exact burial property.

So how do you sell burial property?  The best and easiest way to sell your unwanted burial property is to make sure everyone knows that it is available.  The fastest and easiest way to have your burial property found is to register it for sale online.  When someone loses a loved one and starts their funeral planning process, one of the first things that person is most likely to do is to do an Internet search for “Funeral Planning” or “Final Arrangements.”

When the search results pop-up, they are going to want to find a resource that has all of the necessary information they need to properly plan the funeral, everything from the actual funeral planning process to how to find cemetery plots for sale.  What you need to do in order to sell your cemetery property, is to make sure you are registered with these all-inclusive types of companies.

Selling your burial property should not be an expensive thing to do.  Avoid companies or cemetery brokerages that charge commission fees, renewal fees, or advertising fees.  These companies are taking advantage of the fact that they know it will most likely take years to sell your burial property.  Instead choose a company that charges you one flat registration fee, one time.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of funeral planning and  how to sell your unwanted cemetery plots.


Cemetery Plots: The Reality of Selling Cemetery Plots

There have been recent reports of people choosing to list their unwanted cemetery plots and burial property in places like Craigslist, Ebay, and the classifieds.  If you own unused cemetery plots, beware of these less than practical solutions to trying to sell your unwanted burial property.

One of the main reasons most people resort to these kinds of selling tactics for burial property is because they are hoping to be able to sell their burial property very quickly – as in by next weekend.  However, this is a completely impractical expectation.  Selling cemetery plots is not like selling anything else, and resorting to tactics that make sense when selling a used car or loveseat will only leave you frustrated and disappointed.

The reality is, cemetery plots are only needed when someone dies.  As morbid as that may sound, it’s the truth.  Not only must someone die, but their loved ones must also have plans to bury them in the cemetery where you own unwanted cemetery plots.  It’s really a very chance occurrence, and one you don’t want to rely on an expensive classified ad or limited time only Ebay auction to assist you with.

News reporter Steve Gelbach of Fox 35 news in Orlando recently reported on an Ocala, FL man who chose to list his burial property for sale on Craigslist.  The man was accepting money, or a trade of a small car or truck because, according to the seller, “Selling burial property is hard, but selling a car or truck is easy.”

Therein lies the truth of the matter when it comes to selling burial property.  People who list cemetery plots and burial property for sale have an expectation that it should sell immediately, or at least within a few months.  The fact of the matter is, however, that cemetery plots take sometimes years to find that right mix of recently deceased and burial location.

Some analysts think that the inability to sell burial property quickly is the result of more people preferring to be cremated than ever before.  To some extent, this may be true, but only in certain areas of the country.

For example, according to the Cremation Association of North America, the states with the highest cremation rates in 2006 were: Nevada (68.41%), Washington (67.57%), Hawaii (65.6%), and Oregon (65.25%).  The states with the lowest rates of cremation were: Mississippi (9.56%), Alabama (11.05%), Kentucky (12.32%), and Tennessee (15.99%).  The cremation rates for most states fell somewhere between 20% and 30%.

Given these figures, one can assume that selling cemetery plots in the states that have the highest rates of cremation may indeed be more of a challenge than the states where traditional burial is in higher demand.  However, to blame cremation rats entirely for the inability to sell burial property quickly using methods best reserved for homes and cars is shortsighted.

When needing to find burial property quickly, most people rely on funeral directors.  A great way to sell your burial property more quickly is to make sure that the funeral homes in your area have your burial property information.  This is easily – and very inexpensively – done by putting all of your contact information along with specific information regarding the cemetery and cemetery plot location on an index card and taking it to the funeral homes personally.  This way the funeral directors have the information at hand.

Another affordable solution – and one that can be used in addition to handing out your information to local funeral homes – is to register the property with an online cemetery registry, preferably one that is found on the first pages of all the top search engines, like Google and Yahoo.  To find these registries, simply go to a search engine search page and type in “cemetery plots for sale.”  The top companies are going to be your best bet.

If you do go the route of choosing an online cemetery registry, beware of any company that charges you anything more than a one-time registration fee.  There is no need to pay commissions,  or renewal fees for selling or registering your burial property.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of  how to sell cemetery plots.

Cemetery Plots for Sale: How to Finalize the Transfer of Your Burial Property

For those individuals who have cemetery plots for sale, one frequently asked question is exactly how does the final transfer of burial property actually happen?

It is highly recommended that prior to listing your burial property, you take the necessary steps to ensure that your cemetery plots for sale are “Immediate Need Ready.”  What does “Immediate Need Ready” mean?

Immediate Need Ready cemetery plots for sale are those plots that are ready to transfer to a buyer within 12 to 72 hours of initial contact.  Roughly 80% of all cemetery plots are sold on an immediate need basis.  In other words, someone’s loved one may die today and that person will need to find a burial place for that person sometime within the next 72 hours.

To ensure that your cemetery plots for sale are ready to be transferred immediately,  you will need to contact the cemetery where the plots are located and ask the following questions:

  • How do I transfer burial rights to someone in the lot(s) that I own within the next 72 hours?
  • What paperwork must be completed?
  • Do I need to call someone in order to transfer the burial rights, or does the family or funeral director do that?
  • How do I insure that all billing associated with the burial, include open and close of the burial site, is sent to the family to whom I am giving permission to bury to?

Take good notes, including names and dates of people to whom you’ve spoken or corresponded with.  When you are satisfied that you know the requirements by the cemetery of how to transfer the cemetery plots for sale, you are ready to register your burial property.

Keeping in mind that it can take years to sell your burial property, once a buyer has expressed interest in your cemetery plot,  the actual transfer process is relatively easy.

When transferring the deed to your cemetery plot, typically cemeteries use a single page document called a Quit Claim.  The cemetery should be able to send the document to you or help you with the transfer.  This is usually handled without hassle on the part of the cemetery officials.

The exchange of money is something to consider ahead of time as well.  Typically it is recommended that you establish an escrow account or electronic deposit number with your bank.  You want to eliminate the use of checks or money orders if at all possible.  And you definitely need to establish payment before any final cemetery plot transfers occur.

A word of caution for those with cemetery plots for sale.  Beware cemetery brokerage companies who charge a commission or representation fee, or both.  These cemetery brokers must possess a license to act as a broker in the state where the cemetery plot is being sold.  In almost all states there are very strict rules that cemetery brokers must follow.

It is not necessary for you to hire a cemetery broker to handle your cemetery plots for sale.  Your best financial option is to register the property with a company that attracts both buyers and sellers of burial property.  One such option is The Cemetery Registry. Ideally the company you do choose to register your cemetery property with should only charge you a one-time registration fee.  There is no need to pay any renewal fees, commissions, advertising fees, finder’s fees, etc.

Selling your burial property can be a very affordable, easy task to accomplish.  Just be sure that your property is Immediate Need Ready, that you understand how to transfer the deed, have a method for collecting payment that doesn’t require the use of personal checks or money orders, and that you have the property registered somewhere that charges a one-time flat fee for listing your burial property.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She writes frequently on the topic of funeral planning and information on how to sell cemetery plots.

Cemetery Plots for Sale: How the economy affects the sale of burial plots

Many people across the country are the owners of unwanted burial property; over the last few years significantly more burial property owners are listing their cemetery plots for sale.    Whether the cemetery plot was acquired by your own final arrangements pre-planning, or was bequeathed to you by a loved one, the decision of what to do with the property can be complicated if our country’s economic woes have had a negative impact on your financial obligations.

Given the trend for the value of burial property to significantly rise each year, this can seem like a possible financial investment to some families or individuals.  Some funeral industry experts estimate that the value of burial property in some areas of the U.S. has on the average almost doubled every eight years.

Although the possibility of making a profit on unwanted burial property alone can be incentive for many people hard hit by the nation’s recent recession to list their family’s cemetery plots for sale, other factors must be taken into consideration as well.  For example, no longer are we a culture of families who are born, raised and die all within the same town or city.  More and more families are becoming geographically distant from one another, making the practicality of being buried – or planning the burial of a loved one – across country difficult if not impossible.  Often the selling of burial property becomes a practical issue that is made more appealing by the possibility of also being able to make a small profit on the resale of the property.

Though most of us don’t like to think about the topic, the fact of the matter is that in 2010, approximately 2.4 million people will die.  Of that number roughly 64% will request a traditional burial service for their final arrangements. This means that within the U.S. alone there will be a need for about 1.75 million cemetery plots for sale this year.  The math shows that should this trend continue to exist, there is the possibility of further inflation of burial costs by a lack of supply compared to demand for traditional burial property.

This is a frustrating fact for funeral industry consumers who may already feel the financial pinch of the costs associated with burial practices in the U.S.  According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the estimated average funeral costs, not including cemetery fees, is already over $7,000.  Often times it is a savings to purchase a resold cemetery plot rather than buying new property at today’s current market value prices direct from the cemeteries.  The seller of the previously owned plot is typically willing to sell the cemetery property for far less than what a new burial plot would cost.  In this way both the buyer and seller of cemetery property benefit.

Sellers of burial property should be forewarned, however, that selling a cemetery plot is not like selling any other kind of property.  Though the return investment can be significant, typically cemetery plots for sale can remain for sale for months if not years from the time of initially being listed as available because burial property doesn’t sell until it is needed. Anyone who is considering the sale of unused burial property as the solution to a current financial hardship will most likely be seriously disappointed.

Selling Space in Cemeteries: How to make sure your property is ready immediately

If you have an unwanted cemetery plot or cemetery plots for sale, you need to know how to make sure your property is ready for “Immediate Need.”  “Immediate Need” refers to the fact that almost 80% of all burial property becomes needed within a 24-72 hour window.  Though your cemetery property may have been registered and available for purchase for a considerable amount of time, the fact is that it won’t sell until it is needed. So what must you do to make sure that when the time comes you are prepared to sell your burial property to someone in Immediate Need?

The most important step to making sure your cemetery plot is ready for Immediate Need is to contact the cemetery where the property is located and ask the following questions:

  • Am I able to give permission to bury someone within the next 24 to 72 hours in the lot to which I own the rights of burial?
  • How do you accomplish the burial within 24 to 72 hours?
  • What paperwork must be completed and/or how do I provide the permission so the burial can take place?
  • Does the family who will be using the burial space, or the funeral director they are using need to contact you and how?  Can they be billed for the open and closing of the grave along with any additional fees?

Once you have had these questions answered, it’s important to make sure that you keep all of the information, along with your property deed, and the names and phones numbers of the people you spoke with at the cemetery together in a clearly marked folder.  Be sure to make anyone else who is responsible for your financial matters aware that you have registered your property available as an Immediate Need Ready Site.

The other information you will have to have available includes:

  • The price you are asking for your burial property
  • The phone and email contact information for both you and your financial partners (spouse) or advisors (attorneys, accountant, etc.)
  • Details of the cemetery plots for sale, including location in the cemetery (you may need to ask for information from the cemetery itself if you were bequeathed the property and have never seen it)

In regards to your contact information, remember that the sale of most cemetery plots occurs very quickly once the right buyer comes along.  However, since your burial property can be available for quite some time before it is ever needed by someone, it is important that you remember to keep your immediate contact information updated so that you can be reached quickly by a potential buyer.

One important step to take if you have inherited the burial property is to make sure that you alert the cemetery that ownership of the property has transferred to you.  Failure to do this can result in last minute hold-ups with the transfer of rights to bury to your potential buyer.  You should also make sure you understand what is included in your ownership.  Many times you may have been bequeathed the plot rights but the additional costs for the opening and closing of the grave, along with the required grave liner, were not also purchased.  If this is the case it’s important to alert your buyer that the purchase does not include these extra costs.

Making sure that you have adequately organized the information and details surrounding the cemetery plots for sale that you have registered will help to assure that your buyer is able to complete the purchase of the burial property quickly and efficiently.