What Is Probate?

If you’re an active buyer, seeking a new home in the real estate market, chances are that you’re going to come across something called a probate sale more than once in your buying. Properties that are in court are called probate properties and they can be a very good deal, but they can also be a big risk.

A home can be sold in probate court if the owner dies without having left it in a will. When something like that goes on, the state will come in and administer the property and what happens to it. The courts of most states want to ensure that the property is sold and that it is sold at the highest price they can get. To be sure of that they require specific steps of the buyer and the seller. These involve some specific procedures and some certain steps that must be undertaken.

In a probate sale, the property that you’re interested in is going to be sold just like any other property. The difference is that a probate lawyer or a representative of the estate is going to hire a local real estate agent and they will sign a listing agreement with them. The agent will show that property just as they would any other property.

Likewise the buyer makes an offer just as they would for any other property. The problem is that the offer is contingent on the approval of the court before the sale can go through. In a probate sale you have to put up ten percent or more as a deposit for the property. The representative of the estate can make a counter offer or they can accept the offer. The court confirms the offer. This step has to take place even if the seller accepts the buyers offer. It is not confirmed until the court accepts the offer.

What that means to you is that even though the seller may have accepted, the court does not have to accept. The sale is not confirmed until the court accepts and you appear in court to confirm the sale. A date is set for the sale to go through and typically you’re going to wait a month or more prior to that date. During that time span, the property will continue to be advertised.

Important Note

In some cases the deposit that you offer of ten percent will not be refunded to you even if you do not receive the property. If you don’t have anything extra to work with, that may be something for you to consider. It is possible to get properties at a much lower price, but it is also possible to lose money and not end up with the property that you wanted.

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