Frequently Asked Questions

What is a trust?

A situation in which one person (or entity) holds the legal title to a property for the benefit of another.

What is a probate?

Probate is the court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate. The probate proceeding involves “proving the will” (if there is a will), appointing the personal representative, determining the decedent’s assets that are subject to probate, paying outstanding debts and disbursing funds to the beneficiaries. In some cases, the decedent’s estate includes real property that must be sold under the court’s supervision.

Should I make repairs to the estate home before listing it?

No. probate properties are sold “as-is.” If you make repairs you may inadvertently conceal something about the condition of the property. Even a coat of paint can unintentionally conceal a defect. Except for removing personal possessions, clearing out trash and cleaning up the entryway and yard, it is important to leave the property in its present state and let the buyers do their inspections and satisfy themselves as to the condition of the property.

What do I need to do to prepare the probate property for sale?

Your agent should be able to recommend a number of qualified specialists to help you prepare the property for sale, including removing belongings and obtaining professional cleaning. Your agent should also assist you in conducting an inventory of the real property for sale and in preparing a comprehensive property profile.

How do I chose the best list price?

Your agent should provide you with detailed market data, called a Market Value Analysis. This includes the selling prices of similar properties in the neighboring area. It will also include in-depth information on recent sales in the area, such as price per square foot and the number of days the property was on the market. Taking into consideration the information in the analysis as well as other intangibles of the market, your agent will be able to help you determine a listing price that is appropriate for the market and will attract the greatest number of qualified buyers.

Once the probate property is listed, how will it be marketed?

Your agent should pursue a number of strategies to expose your probate property to likely buyers. They include signage on the property, newspaper and internet advertising, direct mail, open houses for agents and the public and personal networking among successful agents who may represent qualified buyers. Your agent will conduct showings for interested buyers and their agents, will answer questions about the property and will continue to promote the property in order to secure the highest offer. Your agent should also communicate with neighbors in the immediate area, keeping them informed about the price and other details about the property. Ask your real estate agent for a written marketing plan and for explanations of how various types of marketing will benefit the sale.

Should I use the same agent that helped me sell my own house?

You are free to choose any real estate agent you like, but it is important to remember that probate property sales are complicated legal matters. Most real estate agents are not experienced or well-versed in the probate process. It makes sense to choose an agent who specializes in probate and trust real estate, and who understands the intricacies of pricing, marketing and presenting such properties. Your agent will represent your interests throughout the transaction; being able to understand and explain the process is essential.