A probate real estate sale differs in many ways from a traditional real estate transaction. Asking pertinent questions can help you understand the process and determine which agent can best assist you in selling your probate or trust property. Be sure to consider the benefits of specialized knowledge and years of experience as you interview real estate agents. Following is a list of questions to ask potential agents.
Have you sold real property through probate or trust?
An agent may casually say “yes,” but be sure to ask for more details. Have they appeared in court representing the estate? How much of their business is focused on probate and trust sales?
How long have you been selling probate and trust real estate?
Probate and trust real estate sales can be complicated, so it’s important to have a seasoned agent who has experience within this specialized marketplace. The agent must be familiar with unique disclosures as well as the terms of the Probate Code so he or she can handle the sale accurately and promptly. The agent should have an established system for clear communication between the parties and be able to explain processes in “plain English.” Years of successful experience also contribute to an agent’s strong negotiating skills, which will be put to work on your behalf!
How is a probate/trust sale different from a typical real estate transaction?
Probate and trust real estate requires special disclosures and listing agreements, diligent attention to probate law and a unique marketing strategy. Since some probate real estate requires court confirmation, your agent should be familiar with court protocols and have good relationships with probate professionals, such as court personnel, probate attorneys, probate paralegals and administrators.
What sets you apart from other agents?
Look for an assertive agent who can describe his or her services, relevant experience and unique capabilities. If agents can’t think of anything that makes them different, then they are probably not going to be highly confident during negotiations. Look for an agent that has a strong record of satisfied customers, effective communication, diverse marketing skills and a strong support team. As you’re asking questions, pay attention to how the agent listens to you and how thoroughly and clearly your questions are answered. Those are the skills the agent will take to every aspect of your transaction.
May I see your references?
Every serious professional – whether a lawyer, a doctor or even a babysitter – should be able to provide a list of references. Your potential real estate agent should provide you with a list of diverse references. If the agent claims a specialty in probate sales, be sure to ask for names of attorneys or administrators they have worked with. If the agent does not have such references to give you, it’s likely she or he has not sold probate or trust property. Contact some of the references to verify them and ask specific questions concerning your potential probate sale agent.
How do you market probate and trust real estate?
Since this type of sale is different from a traditional sale, the agent should be prepared to present aggressive marking tactics – marketing your property even after the initial offer has been accepted. Ask to see samples of marketing the agent has completed for similar probate or trust properties. In some cases, the real property may be in a different location than the seller and the agent. Be sure to ask the agent how the marketing will be handled under those circumstances.
Do you have samples of documents that I would have to sign or read?
Agents skilled in probate and trust should have the most current contract documentation and disclosure forms for real property transactions. They should be willing to give you copies of these documents and to provide straightforward explanations in non-technical terms. During the course of a probate or trust real property sale, an agent is often called upon to explain the process and paperwork to clients, lawyers, accountants, trustees and administrators, so you want to be sure the agent’s explanations are clear and complete.
Asking these pointed questions will save you time, money and frustration. Selling real property through probate and trust requires an artful balance of the right people and the right tools. Your agent should be able to handle the offer and all the paperwork for the entire real estate transaction, from beginning to end, seamlessly.
We value your questions and strive to give you complete, well-informed answers. We believe there’s no such thing as a silly question when it comes to real property.
Learn more about the probate real estate process or see our tips on costly mistakes to avoid when listing your home for sale.
If you are looking for a team of professional, experienced and competent real estate agents who specialize in probate and trust sales of real property, call us at 310-428-6569.