How to Sell a Cemetery Plot: Step-By-Step

Updated

Selling a cemetery plot may sound like the last thing you’d want to do, especially after taking the time out to buy it and strike it off your end-of-life planning list. But sometimes choosing the ideal location may end up not being so ideal down the line.

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There are plenty of reasons why you may need to sell a cemetery plot, but you have no idea how to do so. So if you want to know step-by-step how to sell a cemetery plot, you’ve come to the right place!

We answer questions behind some of the reasons behind selling a burial plot, as well as advice and steps on how you can sell it back either to the cemetery or to another person in need.

Why Would You Want to Sell a Burial Plot?

More than one million cemetery plots were believed to be no longer needed as of 2014. That number has likely increased considerably over the past six years, according to US Funerals Online. If these burial plots aren’t going to be used, people may consider selling them.

There are plenty of motivations behind selling a burial plot, and it’s no surprise given the nature of change in people’s lives. Here are some of the following reasons:

  • The family has moved out of the area
  • A couple who has divorced
  • Changes in financial status
  • They’ve decided to get buried somewhere else
  • They’re a veteran, and they have elected to get buried in a national military cemetery instead
  • The plot was inherited or a gift
  • They’ve decided to have their cremated remains scattered
  • They’ve decided to donate their body to science
  • Other personal reasons

As death is one of the few certainties of life, there will always be a market for grave sites.

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Can You Sell a Burial Plot?

Yes, in most situations. You can also sell crypts or wall spaces in mausoleums and outdoor tombs. In some cases, you can even sell it for higher than you purchased it -- however, it can come with a lengthy wait of even up to 15 months, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Who would be interested in buying a burial plot from another person?

There are two types of burial plot buyers – those who are planning ahead and those who need one now. Obviously, the person who needs to purchase a plot after the death of a loved one will have a sense of urgency. If you have everything prepared for the sale ahead of time, this will speed up the process and offer the buyer more peace of mind.

When someone is planning a funeral for someone else, they will want to know all of their options. Between the cost of a funeral and casket prices alone, the costs can quickly add up. Purchasing a burial plot through a private party can be less expensive than buying directly from the cemetery.

Also, some old, smaller cemeteries may not have any more plots to sell. So, having a rare chance to purchase one from a private party would be ideal for a relative looking to be buried in their small hometown. It could be beneficial to mention your situation to the funeral director you’re working with while pre-planning the funeral for this person.

When you’re ready to sell your burial plot, you have some options, including selling the burial plot back to the cemetery, selling it to another person on your own, and selling it to someone else through a burial site broker.

Things people are looking for when shopping for a burial plot include the following:

  • A specific cemetery
  • Location within the cemetery
  • Natural and ornamental features (trees, fountains, statuary)
  • Access to a water source (for cleaning the gravestone, etc.)

How to Sell a Burial Plot Back to the Cemetery

Whether you decide to sell your burial plot back to the cemetery, to an individual on your own, or through a brokerage, these are the steps you’ll need to follow.

1. Talk it over with your family

If the burial plot you want to sell is part of a family plot, you should check with your family members to see what they think about it. Suppose you have a double plot with your spouse – you’ll definitely want to make sure they also agree to sell it. 

Also keep in mind that another family member may want the plot, and you could sell it to them. But if the grave is in a family plot, will your family members get upset if you sell it to a stranger? Remember, this decision may affect more than just you.

2. Check your state’s laws regarding cemetery regulations and licensing

Each state may have its own laws regarding the transfer or sale of a burial plot, so it’s important that you find this out. While you may be able to resell the plot, for example in the state of Massachusetts, any violation of chapter 114 of the state laws regarding a plot will incur a fine.

3. Reread your contract

Your contract with the cemetery should answer some of your questions. It can also help you better understand the process as you go along. Like most everything, the more information you have going into this, the better.

4. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork

Each burial plot has ownership papers, including the deed. You’ll also need a transfer of ownership, statement of sale, etc.

5. Contact the cemetery if you want to sell the plot back to them                                                      

Selling the burial plot back to the cemetery is probably the easiest route to take. They will have all the necessary paperwork and will know everything that has to be done. It’s a good idea to check market values for cemetery plots at this point. The values of burial plots can increase, but it also depends on the location. Check online through some websites specializing in selling graves to see what the going rate is nearby.

Again, read your contract. If you do plan to sell your plot back to the cemetery, they may be willing to do so. But they may contractually only have to pay you the original purchase price. 

If this is the route you plan to take, you can skip #6 and #7.

6. If you decide you’re going to sell the plot on your own

First, check with the cemetery’s manager to make sure they allow private burial plot sales. Some cemeteries have their own rules when it comes to the transfer of a plot to a new owner. This can be especially true when it comes to cemeteries owned by a religious organization.

As mentioned above, check the current market values. Know what price range you’re looking at when you decide how much you will want to sell your burial plot for. There are plenty of websites that focus on selling burial plots. Check them out and see what you think. Are they reputable? Do they charge a reasonable fee for the listing? Do they offer assistance with your post if you need it? 

Something to keep in mind when selling a burial plot is that “burial plots sell the fastest in places where people tend to retire.” The website Funeral Funds says that if you live in a state such as Arizona, California, Florida, or Texas, you could have an excellent chance of selling your cemetery plot and quickly.

7. If you decide you’re going to use a broker to sell your burial plot

As in everything, there are good burial plot brokers, and there are the ones you’ll want to avoid. So, do your research before settling. Remember that you can inquire simply about the services they give without having to commit right away. Consider calling two to three of them to figure out what you’d like to spend on a broker.

Know Your Options and Make the Sale

Now that you know your options for selling a burial plot, you can move forward with confidence. If you do your research and gather all the necessary information, you’ll be able to sell your plot in a way that benefits both you and your buyer.


Sources

  1. Tompor, Susan. “Graveyard deals: Why would you buy a cemetery plot in advance?” Detroit Free Press, 24 October 2018, www.freep.com/story/money/personal-finance/susan-tompor/2018/10/24/buying-cemetery-plots/1698056002
  2. “Selling a Burial Plot Is An Important Decision.” Funeral Funds, June 2020, funeralfunds.com/selling-a-burial-plot/ 
  3. “Cemetery Plot Buying and Selling.” US Funerals Online, 23 October 2014, www.us-funerals.com/funeral-articles/cemetery-plot-buying-and-selling.html#.X2M4TC05TjA
  4. Grave Sales, gravesales.com/about/ 

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