Why You Should Hire a Probate Real Estate Agent

By 

Emily Kordys

Updated 

May 21st, 2021

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Probate vs. traditional sales | What to ask | Where to find

🔑 Key Takeaways: 
  • Probate sales can be complicated and are often very different than typical real estate transactions.
  • It's in your best interest to work with a real estate agent who has experience handling probate sales.
  • If you choose an agent without experience, you could end up paying additional fees or facing a longer probate process.

If your agent has experience in probate sales, they will have knowledge of:

  • Necessary paperwork
  • Probate disclosures
  • State probate laws

Choosing a real estate agent without probate experience could result in extra fees and/or a longer court process if the wrong paperwork is submitted. For example, paperwork concerning power of attorney for the probate process costs $435 each time it’s submitted in California.

» CONNECT: To an agent that’ll help you sell your home during probate

How probate sales differ from typical homes sales

The main way that probate sales differ from traditional sales is that they're more complex and typically take longer to complete.

Traditional Sale
Probate Sale
  • You act in your own best interests, setting a timeline and price that works for you.
  • You can sell and close your home on your own timeline (typically within three months).
  • Probate sales are controlled and overseen by probate courts.
  • Sales can take as little as six months or as long as two years, depending on your situation.

Homes are typically sold during probate when:

  • No beneficiaries are identified
  • Debts need to be paid

Probate sales are overseen by probate courts and have to follow local laws, which adds complexity to the home selling process.

What price the home can be listed at, when an offer can be accepted, and how negotiations are handled are all aspects of the sale that probate courts have control over. In addition to following court directives, these sales also have to adhere to probate laws, which vary by state.

» MORE: What is a probate sale?

By comparison, in a typical home sale, the home seller gets to call all of the shots. And while there are still home-selling steps that owners need to follow, the process is more straightforward and often much faster.

What is probate?
When a person dies without a will, their estate must go through a legal process known as probate. The procedure begins when the court appoints an executor of the will to carry out the decedent’s final wishes for their financial and physical assets. 

What you should ask before hiring a probate realtor

Before you hire a probate realtor, you should question them to assess whether they have experience handling probate transactions. For example, you could ask:

  • How many probate transactions have you handled?
  • Are you certified or educated in probate?

Realtors that we spoke with said that each agent should have around 15 probate transactions under their belt before they’re considered an expert.

How do you find a probate real estate agent?

To find a reliable probate real estate agent, you could ask your probate attorney for direction.

Probate attorneys specialize in handling these types of court cases and have a network of resources at their disposal — including probate real estate agents. They could provide you with an introduction or provide contact information for a few agents you could reach out to.

If you’re looking to explore multiple options, Clever can help. We have a vast agent network that can refer agents based on your specific circumstances. Clever also has a customer service team that can help you every step of the way and provide you with advice as needed.

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