5 Steps to Sell a House in Probate

real estate investors should use home inspections

We recognize that selling a house in probate is not part of anyone’s plan. Probate situations can be difficult, especially if the house was ‘intestate’ (meaning no will was in place declaring how to handle the transfer of the property).

5 Basic Steps for Selling a Probate Home

  1. Get an attorney – specifically one who specializes in probate. You will need counsel to represent your interests (as well as the interests of all parties involved) in the potential ownership.
  2. Petition for the probate – probate issues arises because there was no declaration for how the house was to be transferred upon the death of the owners. As such, in order to claim rights to the house, a petition has to be filed with the local court
  3. Document everything – you need to identify the other assets and debts from the deceased family member. You also need a clear inventory of the house (e.g. fixtures and appliances) as well as any personal property still in or around the house.
  4. Pay the debts / keep paying the debts – so, just because the family member is deceased there are still bills to pay. Easy one – property taxes. But equally important are items such as credit or lease payments such as propane tanks or solar systems.
  5. Transfer the home – once the paperwork has been settled and debts have been paid, your attorney will work with the courts and filings to transfer the property (as well as any other remaining assets of value) to you and any other beneficiary.

Getting a Probate Home Ready to Sell

  1. Get an appraisal – and don’t do a ‘desktop appraisal’ – pay for the full version. This way, you know how the house is viewed based on recent comparable sales in the market.
  2. Meet with a qualified realtor – interview the realtor and make sure they know your market. Make sure they also know how to position a probate house.
  3. Be prepared for showings – if the house hasn’t been updated in a long time, it may take time to get buyers interested. If the house hasn’t been maintained…be prepared for low offers.
  4. Be open to investors – especially if the house needs improvements for buyer appeal or simply due to a lack of maintenance. Why? Because they are prepared to deal with making the improvements. More importantly, an investor buyer (good ones) will make their offer without any contingencies.
  5. Maintain the house – you have to keep the heat on, the water running and the floors/counters clean. Treat the home as you would if it were yours. Your goal, as a beneficiary, is to get the maximum value so don’t jeopardize that by just letting the house sit.

It Takes Time to Sell a Probate Home

Yes, there are 5 basic steps to sell a home in probate, but it is not a fast process. Most probate deals will take at least 4-6 months before the house can legally be sold. We are not attorneys. Be sure to talk with your local (probate experienced) attorney to find out all of the details and starting steps. If you are looking for more details this is a good article for Connecticut probate and inheritance matters.

When the time comes and you are ready to start considering how to sell a house in probate, we are happy to lend a hand. If you want to get an idea of your options for selling (namely ensuring that you’re getting the maximum value), drop me a line ([email protected]). I’m happy to help.


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