Funeral Services | Cremation | Funeral Planning | Utah
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How to Make A Good Profit Selling Your Cemetery Property
Burial Plots, Vaults, and Other Cemetery Arrangements: Buy, Sell, Gift, Keep, Use?
This page will help you with any changes you are contemplating making with your burial arrangements. But I am going to put particular emphasis on getting back your investment and then making a profit on cemetery property you own but no longer need.
Many people have told me over the years that they would like to sell their burial spaces and other burial items such as vaults and headstone (grave marker) they bought a long time ago that they no longer plan to use. I’ve sold around 1,300 burial plots through contracts for cemeteries over about 18 years. I discontinued selling cemetery arrangements in 2009, after which time I have focused on funeral and cremation planning. Some of these folks with plots to sell have decided to be cremated and want to sell their plots before they buy a cremation plan from me. Others have bought more than they need or have decided to use another cemetery instead.
My entire Web site is built around how you can profit from burial arrangements straight through to funeral services, cremation, or other final disposition expenses. If you still want a funeral service but need more money to freeze those costs, perhaps the money you can net from selling unneeded cemetery arrangements will pave the way. And you can learn, if you haven't already, that buying a funeral plan from the same company you bought your cemetery arrangements from is only an OPTION not a "requirement." Commit this fact to memory and you've already netted yourself thousands of dollars in savings.
Cemetery property in the Salt Lake area, especially at the high-volume, high-profile "chain" memorial parks, continues to go up in value, not down. You should be able to get your money’s worth from them if you are selling. But don't try to ask too high a price, because it will disappoint you. Your asking price needs to be a "bargain" for your buyer. Otherwise, they will buy a plan from the cemetery on easier terms than paying cash.
I will try to explain here some details about cemetery arrangements, what to do with your cemetery plots, vaults, niches, pre-paid labor, etc.—no matter what your plans are.
If you know you want to sell a lot or a number of lots, these days it’s less expensive to advertise them for sale with the Internet. KSL.com is one good example of free classified advertising. (KSL.com has a category called “Burial Plots” under "Other Real Estate"). You just have to be patient, as with real estate: The lower the price you ask and the longer you’re willing to wait, the easier it is to sell your plots.
Here is an example of one classified ad posted in KSL.com on February 6, 2015:
And here is another posted February 7, 2015:
*VALLEY VIEW STACKABLE BURIAL PLOT (West Valley City)**
West Jordan, UT 84081 | Feb 6, 2015
Single stackable burial plot in Valley View Memorial Park (next to Winder Dairy) located in Garden "T", Lot 69, Space 10. Convertible vault option, 2nd interment may be exchanged for a vault as needed. Paid $1,400 in May 1995.
Seller Contact Info
(one of my customers)
Two Plots at Redwood Memorial Estates-Garden of Reverence
West Jordan, UT 84088 | Feb 7, 2015
I have two great plots side by side near the walkway in the Garden of Reverence. $2500 for both and I'll take care of the transfer fee. Current price for one plot in this section is $2598. Buy One get One FREE.
Seller Contact Info
Exactly the same can be done with mausoleum property, cremains niches, cremains ground, etc.
So if you have plots to sell, first try to sell them in classified advertising you can get for free. Look at your investment in them. Then find out what their market value is now. Ask for a price somewhere in between. Don’t try to get top dollar for them, because the cemeteries already have plots for sale on easy payment terms, and you’d be competing with that if you're trying to get cash. Offer them at a bargain price but not so high people pass them by. People want a good deal.
How to Sell Half and Keep the Other Half
If you are not trying to get money for your lots, they can be transferred to other family members or friends very easily. The cemetery may charge you a small fee. All you usually need is a bill of sale, the original deed, and maybe a witness or notarization.
In the past, I completed quite a few "deed changes," which entailed either adding owners ("as joint owners with rights of survivorship") or changing owners. The process is very simple.
If you got divorced. In order to divide jointly-owned property from when you were married, you need to show a divorce decree in most cases to sell your share. Otherwise, you need to convince your ex-spouse they need to sign over ownership to you one way or another, either by sale or straight transfer of ownership. You cannot sell jointly-owned property (including vaults and headstones) as a single individual until you become the sole owner.
Many people purchased plots in the past without realizing that double depth or "stacked" burials were a possibility. This means many own more "space" than they need if burials are done as double depth. You can sell one of the side-by-side burial spaces, keep the other, purchase a second interment right in the one you keep, and possibly even end up with cash. How much cash you might end up with depends on what price you sell the plot for, what you have to currently pay for a second interment right, etc.
Double Depth or "Stacked" Burial
Most cemeteries and memorial parks allow the option of burying two persons in one grave space, normally known as a double depth interment. It is one on top of the other, each with its own casket and vault. They generally charge extra for what is known as a “second interment right.” A second interment right is nothing but an additional cost, as you are not buying additional ground space. Typically second interment rights cost half of what a regular, second burial space would cost. For example, if a single burial space for one adult costs $1,400.00, a second interment right in that space might cost $700.00. These rights can be purchased with the space at the outset for one total price, or they can be purchased later in a burial space you already own. Double depth burial arrangements will normally cost you less money than two burial spaces, and it helps the cemetery conserve burial ground. The size of the marker or headstone on the ground is a bit more limited, because the grave width is typically around 40 inches. When you have two side-by-side burial spaces, on the other hand, you can have a much wider marker by putting it midway between the two spaces.
Headstones and Grave Markers
Headstones and markers are not required for a burial or funeral to take place. They can be purchased much later, or even never at all. Therefore, they are not as thoroughly discussed on this Web site or in my book. If you wish to sell a headstone or marker to someone else, remember that it cannot have been made yet. You may have a contract that guarantees one will be provided, but if the casting of your name, birthdate(s), etc. has already been done, it can only be used for yourself. Otherwise, you can offer a pre-paid marker for sale along with your plots and/or vaults. But your headstone can be used at any cemetery without any extra fees, except for long distance transportation charges. So if you've already paid for a marker, either done and ordered or just paid for, with a chain operation such as Wasatch Lawn, Valley View Memorial Park, Holladay Memorial Park, Lake Hills, Lakeview Memorial, Mountain View Memorial, or Redwood Memorial, and you are going to be buried elsewhere, there is no problem. Just include in your Final Wishes Summary instructions to transfer that headstone/marker to the cemetery indicated in your Summary. In my Final Wishes Summary Example I show how this can written. (CLICK HERE).
How to Buy Cemetery Plots
Here is a table I compiled that may be helpful if you are planning a burial in the Salt Lake area:
CLICK TABLE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT IN PDF FORMAT
If the city you live in has a city cemetery and you are a resident, buying burial ground there might be cheaper.
Modern memorial parks or endowment care cemeteries are your next choice. Sometimes they have an abundance of unused space. Others are running out of space and are likely promoting the double depth burial option to conserve what they have.
Generally, cemetery space tends to go up in cost and value over time, not up and down as does much real estate. Therefore, it is your advantage to purchase cemetery property as soon as is practicable. The endowment care cemeteries or memorial parks usually offer payment plans to purchase property.
An “endowment care” park has perpetual maintenance included in the price of the space. This means a certain percentage of what you pay for the space must go into a specially designated trust fund, usually required by the state, and they cannot use this money for anything but future maintenance, if and when required. A city cemetery, on the other hand, does not have this requirement. Future maintenance is provided based on the availability of funds for that purpose. The endowment care trust fund ensures that if that cemetery were to go out of business, there would be adequate funds to continue to maintain the park as it was promised to be maintained. Some old graveyards or cemeteries have become derelict due to lack of funds. They become an eyesore, and they are not as pleasant for families to visit.
Many of these perpetual or endowment care cemeteries are owned by publicly traded companies and conglomerates, such as Service Corporation International. Not only are their prices quite high compared to city cemeteries, they might also entice you to buy other things, such as vaults, grave markers, pre-paid opening and closing, and funeral arrangements through them at their same high prices. Be aware that if you buy cemetery plots through these companies, you are not required to buy anything else from them. You are only required to pay their opening and closing of the grave fees at the time of a burial, along with a vault setting fee.
I sold over 1,000 burial spaces for a privately owned endowment care park between 1992 and 1997. At that time, they were only a park and did not have a funeral home on the property. This meant that a family had to use a local funeral home of their choice. They built a funeral home later, and many families did, in fact, make the decision to use that new funeral home as a matter of convenience and perhaps for other reasons, but they were not obligated to. That company, owned primarily by a single family, was later sold to Service Corporation International, a conglomerate that subsequently raised all the prices across the board. Even though there was a funeral home in place at that memorial park offering a full range of services, no family was required to use that funeral home, especially if they already had another in mind.
So remember this important point: If you have burial plots at a facility that also has a funeral home, you can use whichever funeral service provider you choose. They can’t force or coerce you into using theirs, nor can they penalize you for using another. Don’t be tricked into believing you must buy everything from them. You may have much better alternatives, and their products and services might be too expensive to consider.