What Are Probate Sales? A Quick Guide

probate sale wording in dictionary

There are lots of crazy complicated ways to sell a house.

From the traditional method of hiring a real estate agent to new contemporary online listing platforms, there are lots of different avenues when you’re thinking of trading in your current home for a new one.

But amidst these options, there's one term that might seem unfamiliar to many, yet holds big importance in the world of real estate: probate sales.

Probate sales usually come into play in those scenarios most of us don’t really want to think about, like the passing of a parent or other loved one.

And while we’d rather not focus too much on the unfortunate, it’s definitely a part of real estate (and life!), and something you’ll likely deal with at one point or another.

This particularly distinctive path in the home-selling process is wrapped in layers of legal procedures and, often, emotional complexity.

As daunting as it might sound, it's essential to understand the nuances of probate sales, especially if you feel like that situation will ever happen to you— so you can ensure that property is delegated to the right person.

While you might know us for saying “we buy houses” far and wide, there’s something deeper to what we do— it’s about simplifying such a complex process, saving you money from real estate agent fees, and yes, that includes probate sales.

So during a challenging time— whether you’re coping with the loss of a loved one or not— we want to be there for you, walking you through the process so you can sell your house fast.

What is Probate?

At its core, probate is a legal process that ensures the assets of a deceased person, including real estate, are distributed appropriately amongst heirs or beneficiaries.

On a deeper level, it’s the court-supervised procedure of authenticating the last will and testament of the deceased if one exists, settling debts, and allocating the remaining assets accordingly.

So, why is probate necessary? Legally, it serves a dual purpose.

  1. It confirms the validity of a will, ensuring that the deceased's wishes are honored. If there's no will, the probate process helps distribute assets according to state laws
  2. It ensures that all debts, taxes, and outstanding bills of the deceased are settled before distributing what's left.

As for its duration, the probate process can vary widely based on the complexity of the estate, the presence (or absence) of a will, and state-specific laws and regulations.

Typically, a straightforward probate process could take a few months, but it's pretty common for more intricate cases to extend over a year or even longer. (Talk about wanting to sell your home fast, are we right?!)

In the context of selling a house, understanding probate is vital, because it plays a crucial role in determining how and when a property can actually be sold. (It’s not always as simple as snapping your fingers, saying “sell my house,” and finding that perfect buyer, unfortunately.)

What Are Probate Sales?

So, what does this have to do with the grand scheme of things when it comes to actually selling a home?

In the realm of real estate, you might come across a slew of sale types:

  • Standard sales
  • Foreclosures
  • Short sales

…among others (and all of which we work with!).

But we’re talking specifically about probate sales, so, what exactly sets them apart?

Probate sales are sales of properties that are still under the purview of a probate court.

They’re different from regular real estate sales because they’re not just about selling a property, but rather, they’re intricately tied to the legal process of settling an individual's estate after their demise.

A few different scenarios could lead to a home ending up in a probate sale:

  • Death without a will: If an individual passes away without leaving a will, their property goes through probate to ensure fair distribution among heirs as per state laws.
  • Estate settlement: Even with a will in place, if a property isn't explicitly left to someone, it might be sold through probate to divide the proceeds among beneficiaries.
  • Limited financial resources: Sometimes, the deceased might have left behind significant debts or unpaid taxes. In such cases, the property might be sold to settle these outstanding amounts.

Probate sales typically start with the court's decision to sell the property, usually based on a request from the estate's executor or administrator.

Once it’s approved, the home is then listed, just like any other real estate listing would be.

But, once an offer is made, it's often subject to court confirmation before the deal is final.

This means that after accepting an offer, a court hearing has to be scheduled so that other potential buyers can submit competing offers. If there are no overbids, the original offer proceeds. After this, the sale can close like a conventional real estate transaction.

If you’ve ever brought the court into something, you know how complicated it can be, but that’s the unfortunate reality of working with probate sales (unless you’re working with House Buyers of America where we buy houses 😉).

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Probate Sales

Challenges in Probate Sales

While we’re on the subject of the complications of probate sales, let’s delve a little deeper into why this could cause big complications in your life.

While probate sales can offer a potential “new home” for heirs of the estate, that “new home” also comes with all those tricky “new home” problems, plus the nausea of dealing with the court on top of it all! When you’re in a probate sale situation, you have to navigate through:

  1. Added legal complexities: Probate sales are laden with legal protocols that can be challenging to understand, especially for those unfamiliar with the legal realm, from obtaining court approvals to understanding state-specific requirements.
  2. Emotional strain: Selling a home is emotional in its own right, but selling a deceased loved one's home? That adds a whole new level of emotion to the equation, especially when you have to go through mountains of court paperwork if you want to get it off your chest.
  3. Disagreements among heirs: If you have multiple heirs, then watch out— disagreements are bound to happen. Often, multiple heirs might have a say in the property's sale, and differences in opinions on listing prices, accepting offers, or even whether to sell can lead to conflicts, slowing down the process, especially if there’s not a trusted real estate professional there to guarantee that the home will sell (like we will!).
  4. An uncertain timeframe: Unlike traditional sales, most probate sales can't guarantee a quick close. With court confirmations and potential bidding wars, along with the usual probate procedures, the timeframe remains unpredictable— unless you’re using House Buyers of America, of course!

What to Prepare for When Undergoing a Probate Sale

If you find yourself at a crossroads of whether you should undergo probate sales, consider some of these factors:

  • Probate sales will require loads of paperwork just like the traditional real estate process (and likely, more!): If you’re already dealing with a lot on your plate, you probably don’t have the time to translate legal jargon into words you understand. But the unfortunate truth is that undergoing probate sales will keep you circling through paperwork over and over again, sometimes taking you away from work, life, and family for a matter of weeks or months.
  • Putting your home on the market means having to renovate, clean, and stage for open houses: If you’re considering putting the home on the market, get ready to drop hundreds, or more likely, thousands, of dollars, renovating, cleaning, and staging for your neighbors to see. If you’re not local to the area, then prepare for even more money spent traveling, staying in hotels, and moving furniture around to make it “just right,” just for the possibility that someone will buy it.
  • But more than anything, prepare to know that there’s more than just the traditional probate sales system— there’s House Buyers of America, where we buy houses so you don’t have to deal with the traditional real estate process.

The Benefits of Working with House Buyers of America in Probate Sales

Navigating the waters of probate sales can feel wrought with uncertainty, emotion, and legal intricacies— because it is!

We buy houses specifically for this reason— so we can alleviate the pain, headache, and back-and-forth that a traditional selling process with a probate home can bring.

House Buyers of America’s process is brain-dead simple and totally different than how you’d traditionally sell a home:

  1. Give us a call at 855-659-3289 or fill out our online form and we’ll give you a competitive cash offer in just 10 minutes.
  2. We’ll schedule a visit to your home so we can do some planning. Don’t worry, there’s no need to clean or tidy up— this isn’t an open house in any way, shape, or form!

Pick your closing date. Close your house in 7 days or as long as 7 months— we’re on your timeline, and want to make sure we’re organizing closing around you, not the other way around.

Get an offer with a click of a button

Sell your home directly to House Buyers of America and can skip all the hassle and months of uncertainty. Simply enter your address – and get our offer with a few simple steps.

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