Selling a House in Probate In the SF Bay Area

Selling a house going through probate isn’t easy. There’s a lot of legal stuff it has to go through before it can be listed for sale. Even after it’s sold, there’s still paperwork to do.

Selling a probate house involves four steps: picking someone to manage it, getting it valued, asking the court to start the sale and listing it, and getting the court’s approval to sell it. It’s a long and tough process. And even if it’s sold, the family might not get much, especially if the previous owner owed a lot of money.

Selling a House in Probate in SF Bay Area

If you’re the one managing the house or just a family member looking to sell, this guide has everything you need to know. It covers everything from the basics to dealing with repairs and getting the sale approved. Remember, probate laws vary from state to state, so it’s a good idea to get advice from a pro if you need help with your state’s rules.

Probate property is an asset left by someone who died that has to go through the probate process. This property is either distributed through a will or without a will (in case someone dies intestate). 

In real estate, ‘probate property’ typically refers to a house undergoing probate proceedings. However, it’s important to note that it can encompass various assets like vehicles, stocks, and jewelry.

In this piece, though, our main focus will be on selling probate houses.

Absolutely. A house can be sold during the probate procedure. Probate properties follow the same selling process as regular ones—usually through a realtor using familiar marketing techniques or to a cash buyer for a quicker, hassle-free probate sale.

Yet, selling a probate house is intricate. The proceeds may not be distributed as expected by the family, especially if the deceased owner has outstanding debts to multiple creditors.

Expenses related to probate, estate debts, and insurance costs would also be subtracted from the property’s sales proceeds before the beneficiaries can share the remaining funds.

Like a standard property sale, a probate sale involves more complexities due to legal procedures. Often delayed by court approval, these sales can drag on for months or even years.

However, if you’re prepared to navigate this process, here’s what you need to know…

Before the sale kicks off, the court decides whether it’s a formal or informal probate. This determines the extent of court involvement in the sale.

How Does a Probate Sale Work in SF Bay Area

Formal Probate Sale

The formal probate process is lengthy and complicated because of court involvement. The probate court should approve every transaction related to the house and the executor needs an attorney for guidance.

Here are 4 steps to help you get started:

An essential step in selling a probate house involves naming a trustee or an estate agent. If the deceased specified a trustee in their will, the court will respect this choice.

However, if no trustee is named, the court will designate an administrator to handle the paperwork. Typically, this individual is a family member.

The responsibilities of a trustee are demanding. For example, they oversee property valuation, advertising, property sales, probate fee payments, profit distribution, and more.

After being chosen, the executor needs to have the house valued for it to be put on the market.

The evaluator should definitely be an expert because the procedure is strict. This is predictable as the valuation will determine the property’s sale price.

Furthermore, many probate courts demand that the property be sold for no less than 90% of its assessed value.

Once the house’s valuation is complete, the authorized individual should submit a notice of intent to sell the property and other assets to the legal authorities.

This notice should include the property’s valuation and the chosen method of sale, such as an auction or traditional listing with agents.

Upon approval of the notice, the authorized individual can begin marketing the property for sale. The property can be sold through various channels, including distressed house buyers, FSBO (For Sale By Owner), or with the assistance of a real estate agent specializing in probate sales.

Potential buyers should be informed by the authorized individual that the sale is subject to court confirmation.

A court hearing will be scheduled to approve the sale. However, before the hearing, the probate house can still be advertised, indicating the buyer’s offer, to attract more potential buyers for bidding during the court proceedings.

During the hearing, when additional potential purchasers arrive to bid, the probate court will oversee proceedings. They will manage the bidding and any subsequent overbidding.

Given the court’s involvement, anticipate stringent regulations.

Upon a successful bid, the executor can request court approval for the property’s sale.

The beneficiaries or heirs must be informed of the sale and provide consent. Should any heir oppose, the sale could be halted.

Upon completion of documentation, the court will assess and issue an order sanctioning the sale.

Informal Probate Process

The informal probate sale process is less stringent than the formal probate sale because there is limited court involvement. This is possible if the house in question is under the joint tenancy and there are rights to survivorship.

Informal Probate Process in SF Bay Area

Just like in probate sales, a trustee or agent gets appointed to handle deals. If there’s no trustee specified, the court picks one. Usually, the trustee won’t require a lawyer’s assistance anymore.

The executor should complete and file all the necessary probate forms with the probate court. These forms are often different from the ones filed during formal probate sales.

Right after the primary forms are filed, the court would release Letters of Testamentary. These are documents that give the executor the right to manage the assets of the deceased, including the house.

The executor would still need to fill out a lot of forms and file them with the probate court after these documents are released.

Once the court approves the sale of the house, the executor gains the authority to list or sell it according to lawful procedures. The executor may engage agents or locate a firm specializing in purchasing probate properties.

There will be no auction process as the court relinquishes oversight of the transaction. Nevertheless, all beneficiaries or relevant parties must reach a consensus before the sale can proceed.

If the court approves the petition to sell the probate house, the executor must start marketing it. Here are several ways to sell a house going through probate faster:

Ways to Sell a Probate Property in SF Bay Area

Working with realtors specializing in probate properties can speed up the process.

They’re well-versed in the tactics for selling a probate house and accurately pricing it. They’re also adept at identifying the target market, ensuring you receive attractive offers.

Real estate investors buy and renovate properties to turn them into rentals or improve them for resale. They might obtain financing from a bank or mortgage for a probate house if they’re keen on it. Alternatively, they may offer cash if they possess sufficient funds.

A cash buyer for homes operates much like a real estate investor. However, they’re preferable because they can provide immediate cash for the probate house.

They don’t rely on loans or mortgages for buying. They also don’t demand any repairs. Moreover, a reputable cash buyer won’t back out of the deal once they’ve reached an agreement with the executor, ensuring you receive your funds without any doubts.

According to SF Bay Area Courts, probate sales last 9 months to 1 ½ years due to a lot of factors. For one, asking for a schedule in a probate court is difficult. There’s also the delayed release of the grant to probate, which can further push back the transaction.

Another thing to consider is the marketing side of the probate deal. Just because the executor puts the property up for sale doesn’t guarantee immediate buyer interest unless a skilled real estate agent is brought on board or the property is snapped up by an investor.

Typically, it might stretch on for months or even years before a buyer steps up, depending on the property’s condition, the asking price, and the local real estate scene.

In light of that, it’s wise to anticipate that the probate process will drag on longer compared to regular property sales. However, engaging a trustworthy cash buyer can significantly accelerate the probate sale.

A probate property often requires repairs before it’s ready for market. The executor or agent should cover these costs to ensure the house can be sold at a good price.

If relatives can’t or won’t pay for repairs, the executor might consider selling to a cash buyer instead of using an agent. Cash buyers typically don’t need repairs before buying probate properties.

Another option is listing the house as distressed. But you can save on agent fees by selling directly to cash buyers.

What if the Probate Property Needs Repairs in SF Bay Area

We hope this guide helped answer common questions like “Can you sell a house during probate?” or “Do the beneficiaries get all the proceeds of the sale?”

When selling property in probate, it’s crucial to be prepared emotionally and financially. The process can be lengthy and costly due to probate fees.

For legal advice regarding probate law intricacies, consulting an attorney is advisable. Additionally, specialized agents can assist in selling probate properties.

Considering a cash sale? Reach out to We Buy Houses in SF Bay Area for a competitive offer covering closing expenses! Contact us at (408) 557-7554 to simplify your sale process.

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The Easiest Way To Sell Your House Fast In SF Bay Area

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Gagan Saini

Author: Saini

My name is Saini, and I founded the We Buy Houses in SF Bay Area team with years of experience in the real estate industry. I have assisted numerous sellers in selling their homes quickly, “AS-IS”, and for a fair price.

He’s been featured in multiple publications including Yahoo Finance, GoBankingRates, LegalZoom, The Mortgage Report, Apartment Therapy, US News and World Report, and SuperMoney among others.

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