How to find the right probate real estate agent

In California and many other states, when someone passes away without leaving a will behind, members of the family are left to manage the deceased person’s debts and handle their final business affairs. The legal process for settling the deceased individual’s affairs and the passing of legal titles of their property to their heirs is known as probate.

If someone passes away without formally designating an heir for their home, estate, or property, it can be sold through a special probate court. In cases like this, potential buyers can step in and get a good deal from the transaction. This is because homes sold in probate court are often priced lower than your standard homes. Buyers should ideally be represented by a real estate agent who has probate expertise. This means working with a realtor who has a good understanding of probate laws in the state you have set your eyes on.

Why a real estate agent who specializes in probate is needed

The probate procedure can be a little more complicated than the standard real estate transaction. Not being familiar with the procedures involved in buying a probate house in California, as well as the associated timelines and deadlines can lead to costly mistakes that could delay proceedings. Thus, you’ll need a specialist who understands the nuances of probate and who can competently handle probate real estate listings.

Something as simple as filling out or using the correct probate-specific forms to complete a sale can spell a huge difference. The judge could take note of these mistakes and reschedule a new hearing instead of making a decision on a petition.

Probate sales are often time-sensitive, more so in instances where the court is made to step in. When overbidding commences, the court sells the probate property in an auction-like proceeding. This is where potential buyers come in and bid for the acquisition of the property.

Without a competent real estate probate agent, an attorney can go over the documentation and ensure that the California probate sale of real property meets the requirements of the courts.

The language of probate real estate is obviously not the kind that can be DIY’d or relegated to non-specialists. Thus, buyers should find the best agent to work with. Narrow down your choices from among the probate real estate agents in your preferred area and ask the right questions to determine who can best fit your requirements.

Questions to ask a potential probate real estate agent

You need someone with adequate experience and a good understanding of how to get probate listings in California to help handle your probate real estate transactions. Asking the right questions like the ones below can help to determine a prospective realtor’s suitability.

1. How many probate transactions have you handled? 

The agent will be encouraged to discuss the number of properties they have handled under probate in adequate detail. The answers here will give you an idea of the extent of experience they have dealing with real estate transactions of this nature.

Asking follow-up questions about their best and worst probate transactions can give you insights into the way they handle stumbling blocks to ensure that everything goes as planned.

Asking for references and contacting past clients is also a good way to learn more about their experiences with probate firsthand.

2. In what way do traditional sales differ from probate sales?

You may already know the answer to this question yourself. However, asking this will give you an idea of the breadth of expertise your prospective real estate agent has of the process’s complexities.

If the real estate agent can explain the probate process in terms you can grasp, you can be assured that he will be able to clearly communicate whatever needs to be explained in the course of the sale.

3. Do you have certification or any education in probate?

Having specialized training in the complexities of probate sales and court confirmation procedures isn’t strictly required, but can be an edge. More so if your realtor has both knowledge and experience in the specific area where the property is located. Agents who undergo the training, which is provided by the U.S. Probate Services, are designated as Certified Probate Real Estate Specialists (CPRES).

Even if your potential agent isn’t certified, there may still be some saving grace. Check if your agent has undergone probate training and education elsewhere or if they have attended conferences on probate laws and procedures.

Learn more about the processes and requirements involved in probate real estate transactions — including how to buy probate real estate in California — with me, Nick Caudillo. Call 626.388.6644 or email for services and guidance from a top-rated real estate professional serving the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside areas.

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