How to look for homes on probate

Probate properties can be a great investment. Since they are sold below market value, these homes also have a much lower sales price as compared to other standard homes for sale in their area. Upon making repairs and renovations on these, you can resell them at a higher price.

Here’s what you need to know about probate properties and how to find them.

What are probate properties?

When a person passes away, their real estate assets can be automatically passed on through joint ownership, a living trust, or a transfer-on-death deed. If not, these assets go through probate. Homes also enter into probate if the deceased has unpaid debts or if the heirs don’t want the property.

This probate process, which is supervised by the court, involves selling the property through an estate attorney or representative.

How to find probate properties

Finding probate properties for sale requires more research than looking for a non-probate home. Before anything else, you need to know whether a property is on probate or not.

Here are the five ways probate properties can be found:

  • Local probate court records

Executors or personal representatives must file an application at the local probate court before the process begins. The clerk at your local probate court keeps a public record of all these probate cases, a copy of which you can easily obtain. All you need to do is to request for access by calling or visiting your local probate court. Ask for a list of individual probate cases that were filed in the past six months. You can also check county websites for their list of probate properties and other court records.

While you may not have permission to see the actual will, local probate court records may reveal the name of the executor of the estate, the executor’s attorney, the name and address of the deceased owner, the judge handling the case, and the list of filed documents.

  • Local newspapers

Probate properties are also marketed through your local newspaper. These properties are typically listed in the newspapers by the executor of the estate who is responsible for managing the deceased individual’s probate property. Some county clerk offices may also have notices in newspapers regarding probate properties.

Check the obituary listings and see if there is any information about their successor/s. If there is, head to the website of the local tax assessor to check if they owned the property or not.

  • Online searches

Probate lead websites, real estate websites, online bulletins, and social media are some of the ways to search for properties online. Probate lead websites, for one, already have a list of probate properties in a particular area. However, those offering probate leads may also charge you extra for their services.

  • Local home auctions

If you plan on buying a probate home during an auction, be prepared to bid. Once a license to sell the home is petitioned in the court, the buyer and other interested parties will attend the court appointment and present their bids. The highest bidder wins the property. The probate judge serves as the auctioneer.

Before bidding on a probate property, prepare by checking the probate laws of that particular area. States such as California are no strangers to raising the offer in between bids. You must also be ready with a cashier’s check of at least 10% of the accepted offer price.

  • Local real estate agent

If you’re looking for probate properties for sale, real estate agents are your best bet. Real estate agents who specialize in these kinds of properties, in particular, have a huge network that they can tap into. These agents can also connect you to probate attorneys who are representing the estate in probate.

Having an agent who is also a Realtor is a huge help as well. Realtors have complete access to the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), making it easier for you to find probate homes for sale.

Working with a local real estate agent is most ideal because they have the necessary knowledge, experience, and network. Real estate agents who specialize in probate properties can also provide you with the right information that you will need in your search for probate real estate listings.

Begin your search for the right probate property by contacting me, Nick Caudillo. My years of experience in probate properties have made me one of the top probate real estate agents in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside areas. Feel free to call me at 626.388.6644 or email

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