Selling a Burial Plot Is a Grave Decision

My family friend (hi, Zachary, the CEO of BurialLink here) Martha from Tennessee was widowed at the age of 45. As is life, she was fortunate to find a second husband, Tom, who she led a happy life. Tom was 65 and thought it was wise to plan their funerals in advance, and ideally, they wanted to have their burial plots next to each other. Martha was in favor of the idea. Unfortunately, she had a problem - she had already bought a burial plot next to her first husband in Florida.

Martha is not the only one with the issue of a burial plot that she is almost sure she will never use. Many unforeseen circumstances such as relocation, disputes, spouse deaths, remarriage, change of plans, and beliefs can put you in the same position as Martha.

Deaths are emotional and expensive. Burial plots can cost you anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Merely buying another burial plot is not a cheap or feasible option for most. Selling is not easy either, as in most cases, there are emotions attached. Further, you cannot just have a "for sale" sign on the burial plot and let go of it. If only it were as easy as selling your beloved ford truck. Selling a burial plot comes with a lot more challenges, but luckily BurialLink is here to help.

If you have decided to sell your burial plot, here are some first steps to consider to make the selling process easier: 

Steps to Consider When Selling a Burial Plot

Ensure No-Conflict Situation With Your Family or Co-Owners of the Plot

Including your family members in your decision to sell the beloved remainder of the family plot can save you from situations like:
  • Unwanted legal conflicts as they have joint rights over the plot with your partner/parents/siblings
  • Challenges to your loved ones as they will have to travel thousands of miles to offer flowers or pay respect 
  • Impulse selling as you are in a desperate situation and not in the state to make a sound decision 
  • Unwanted conflicts as they might have other plans with it 

Check for Compliance 

For something so universal, rules vary state to state, cemetery to cemetery and plot to plot. While some states have no regulation on buying or selling burial plots, some have stricter policies that involve selling the plots to the cemetery or state first and then the buyer. In our research, we have found this last scenario rare, but recommend you do your due diligence before listing a burial plot.

Further, even if there is state law, not all cemeteries are treated equally. For instance, cemeteries owned by churches or religious institutions are sometimes exempted from the state law.

Figure in All Hidden Costs 

Simply buying the burial plot is not the end of the expenses. There are additional fees for many processes. For instance, there are charges to open the ground to bury remains or caskets.

Some cemeteries will require you to buy a grave liner, which could cost up to several hundred dollars. There are some care/maintenance charges also, some annually. When you are ready to sell your plot, we advise that you include these things in your communication with the buyer to avoid legal issues later on.

Know the Price You Could Sell It For 

Prices of burial plots change often. The value fluctuates based on supply and demand. Like other real estate assets, it is also dependent on the value of the similar real estate in the area. Both real estate inside and outside the cemetery affects the price. You can check our listing for other burial plots to understand the market price. Here at BurialLink, we also highlight the pricing ranges and number of recent transactions to help better understand the cemetery plot market. 

You can look out for buyers who need the plot immediately, which might fetch a reasonable price. Understand the selling points of your plot. For instance, is it under a well-kept tree, is it overlooking the ocean, is it surrounded by manicured grass, is it in a historic city - you can try to add these as your selling points and set a price accordingly. 

Keep Your Expectations Realistic 

You might have emotions invested in a particular burial spot, but it is not the same for the buyer. There are many burial spots around that are not in use, and hence it is a buyers market. Understand the turnaround period of such sales through our listing service. Other factors you can try to analyze to keep a realistic timeline are the number of old/retired people in the area of the plot, popularity of burying vs. cremation in the area, and if people are investing in burial plots (yes, it is a thing).

The Final Burial Call

Once you have information on these above points, it is time for you to make the final decision whether to sell or hold. It is always tricky to emotions and bay and makes the most logical financial decision. That is why we offer detailed pricing and current listing information to help you guide your choice.