Probate is the commonly used term for the judicial method of administering and managing a deceased person’s estate. Since most estates include property, typically the recently deceased person’s residence, the word “probate property” has been widely used when dealing with such matters. However, the probate process encompasses far more than dealing with property, and it can get pretty complex in some cases, which can dramatically increase the length of time each case takes to resolve.
With that said, today, we are going to take a look at what kind of improvements you should make before soliciting a probate attorney to sell your property, and what you can do to get the most value out of the transaction.
How Probate Sales Work
On the one hand, the sale of a probate property can be a smooth process, going through without a hitch. While on the other hand, it could take years to complete with the potential of being a very stressful and challenging process for everyone involved. Each case is different, which makes it difficult to give an overarching description of the process.
In most cases, though, houses in probate are advertised and sold in the same way as regular properties are, with a real estate agent listing the property and showing it to prospective buyers. Anyone can make a bid on these houses, but the process is a little more difficult. Here is a quick overview of the standard procedure:
- The court will appoint an estate representative or an executor who will oversee the sale of the property. If there is no will in place, the court will appoint an administrator
- The executor must identify the decedent’s creditors, and then the property must be liquidated in order to pay the creditors
- Once an offer is received, the executor must petition the court for permission to sell the home
- The sale will move forward as long as none of the deceased’s heirs and the estate’s beneficiaries file an objection
- All buyers must appear in court to submit an official bid for the property, and the highest bid will win
What If The House Needs Repairs?
As we have touched upon already, the probate process can be very time-consuming, so it’s within your best interest to do everything you can to make the process as smooth as possible. In general, if you want a quick sale, you need to make the home as appealing as possible before putting it on the market. After all, the probate sales process is just the same as any other process in that regard.
The more attractive you can make the house appear, and the more problems you take care of, the more attractive it will be to potential buyers. This will speed up the process, and this increases the chance that you will fetch a higher price for the property. How far you take this is entirely up to you, but the more you do, and the better you make the property appear, the more value you will squeeze out of the sale. Here are a few areas that you might consider working on before you put the house up for sale:
Refreshing your kitchen
Many real estate experts claim that “kitchens sell homes.” This is because the kitchen is always one of the most important features for buyers, so you should do all you can to spruce it up. However, the word of the day is “refresh.” A complete kitchen restoration is almost never worth the high initial cost, as you will almost never recoup your investment. With that in mind, concentrate on the basic tasks that you can do on your own. A little elbow grease and a lick of paint can sometimes go a long way.
Remember that the majority of buyers would like a kitchen with completely functional appliances (and not ones that are 30 years old). Check to see if everything works as it should before you permit any home inspections.
Installing new door knobs, faucets, and light fixtures
Touching upon the same point as above, every buyer will want to purchase a home that is functional. This means having working doorknobs, faucets, toilets, light switches and fixtures, and even things like the garage door. The more of this stuff that’s broken, the less appealing it will be.
This isn’t to say you need to carry out a large-scale renovation, but taking the time to make sure the home has all of the essentials covered and that the functional aspects are in good working order will help you fetch a higher price.
Reviving your bathroom
The bathroom is another key aspect of the house. Let’s face it, not many people would be happy buying a home with a dark, dingy, and outdated bathroom. The home should have a clean bathroom where everything works as it should.
This means there should be no leaky toilets or faucets, broken pipes, and no broken showerheads or blocked drains. Fortunately, most of these problems are relatively simple to repair and shouldn’t cost you too much money.
How Long Does Selling a Probate Property Take?
If you’re going to put a probate home on the market, keep in mind that most buyers looking to buy a house by probate are looking for a good deal. Since this is a difficult situation for both the seller and the buyer, the house would most likely be valued at a marginally lower price than its fair market value. However, if you do whatever you can to upgrade the home and make it look its best, you might not have to lose that much money.
So, how long does it take to complete the process? The short answer is that it is dependent on the circumstances. In general, six to nine months is a reasonable approximation, although this varies based on a number of factors, such as the state probate laws, the estate’s size, whether there is a will present, and if there is an objection by one of the heirs.