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Why a home is sold through probate court

A home is sold in probate court when someone dies intestate or without bequeathing their property. When that happens, the state takes over and administers the property’s sale.

The court wants to be certain the property is marketed and sold at the best possible price. To ensure this, the court requires certain steps, processes and procedures be followed.

Probate laws can vary from state to state, but any good real estate agent should be sufficiently knowledgeable about the ins and outs of probate sales.

Marketing a probate sale

In a probate sale, the property is marketed just like any other property. The probate attorney or the estate representative will hire a local real estate agent, sign a listing agreement, and show the property, just as they would a traditional listing.

Generally, the list price is based upon the listing agent’s suggestions as well as an independent appraisal ordered and issued by the court.

Making an offer

An interested buyer may make an offer on the property at any time. However, in the case of a probate sale, the offer must be accompanied by a 10 percent deposit. The estate representative will then accept or counter the offer, just like any other sale.

The offer is subject to the court’s confirmation. Even though the seller may have accepted a buyer’s offer, the seller is not committed to that buyer or their offer. The estate representative, through their probate attorney, will then petition the court to confirm the sale. A future date is chosen for the sale to be confirmed in the court.

Playing the waiting game

Once the sale date is determined, the parties now must wait a minimum of 30 to 45 days. During this time, the court requires that the property be properly advertised and marketed with the new accepted price. In California, for example, the court will take that accepted offer and raise it by 5 percent plus $500. The total becomes the new probate price to be marketed.

Going to court

In order for the sale to be confirmed, the court requires that the new buyer, plus any other interested party, come to probate court to confirm the sale. The property is then sold auction style with the opening bid being (in the case of California) the accepted offer price plus the 5 percent, $500 increase.

Sometimes multiple buyers show up to bid on the property in increments of $5K. If nobody shows up to bid on the home, the first buyer gets the property for their original offer price. If the property is sold to one of the bidders, they must immediately hand over a deposit of 10 percent.

The deposit may not be refundable

There are some things for buyers to be aware of when moving forward on a probate sale. Many times, the 10 percent deposit that’s required with the offer is not refundable unless the original buyer isn’t the final court confirmed buyer.

Also, since the seller is deceased, there usually isn’t anyone to disclose a previously leaky window, illegal work done on the property, plans for a major change to the neighborhood, or anything else that may negatively affect the property’s value. That’s why probate sales can be risky.

An early inspection is your best defense

Any serious buyer should have the property inspected from top to bottom before writing an offer. Yes, you’re gambling the price of the home inspection without knowing if your offer will even be accepted, or if you’ll be outbid by someone else in probate court. But would you rather gamble the cost of an inspection — or the cost of a house?

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor® and real estate expert based in San Francisco and New York. He is a contributor to Zillow Blog, has collaborated on multiple real estate books and is often quoted by major media outlets. Follow Brendon on Twitter.


Life and Senior Planning

The purpose of this tab and below is to cover the odds and ends of life.  The importance of budget, credit repair, remodeling, foreclosure, downsizing, etc

For after 55 home and housing searches and information look at   This looks like a quite informative search routine.

Remember to discuss with me various alternatives with respect to your existing house, whether to sell, or rent there are considerations as to how to get it done.

Important IRA Legislation Just Passed! Donors 70½ and Older Eligible for Tax-free Gift Opportunity.  Congress has extended legislation that allows donors ages 70½ and older to gift up to $100,000 from their IRAs to charity. It's easy to make a gift by directing your custodian to transfer a portion of your required minimum distribution directly to charity. The gift is not counted as part of your taxable income, so it is tax-free!

The new law extends legislation for 2010 and 2011. Also, because of how late the bill was passed, IRA gifts made through Jan. 31, 2011 can be treated like they were made in 2010—applied to the 2010 required minimum distribution, the 2010 tax year, and the $100,000 limit for 2010.

Independent Living: Condos, townhouses and single family homes that are smaller and more maintenance free than large family properties are frequently people's first choice, especially if you are healthy and active.  Often quality of life is directly related to keeping your independence.

Active Adult Communities: Active adult communities aim to service the interests of active adults over the age of 55. Housing types often include condos, townhouses and single-family properties, and all are designed with an eye toward delivering a maintenance-free lifestyle for residents. Such communities offer a vast array of on-site activities, including exercise, social clubs, art instruction and lecture series.

Assisted Living Communities: Residents live in their own apartments, but have the benefit of an on-site staff, meal service in communal dining spaces, and planned activities and outings. Some assisted living communities also offer access to nurses and daily living assistance. Others may offer more extensive medical and personal services.

Adult Family Homes: Such properties are licensed to care for up to six residents in a home setting. Services typically include meals and housing maintenance and attending to residents' safety and care. Facilities may specialize in addressing specific health concerns and provide care and an environment tailored to those conditions.

Alzheimer's and Dementia Care: Facilities specialize in caring for patients with dementia and Alzheimer's disease offer programs that address residents' needs and provide an environment where they can live safely. Housing services typically include personal care, such as bathing and dressing and administering medicine, along with dining and housekeeping. In addition, many buildings incorporate over 50 design features, such as safe wandering paths and color coded areas to help with way-finding. Such designs provide comfort and ease residents' anxiety.

Continuing Care Retirement Living Communities: A Continuing Care Retirement Living Community offer progressive levels of assistance, depending on a person's needs. They include independent and assisted living and nursing care.

Weighing the Options

Choosing the appropriate over 50 living arrangement is challenging not only because it entails an emotional dimension, but also because of the complex issues you need to weigh, such as cost, location, services, amenities, activities, and current and future care needs.




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