Selling a probate property

Tips for executors when selling a probate property

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How to sell a probate property…

Selling a probate property can be more complicated than an ordinary sale. This section explains why probate properties are particularly well suited to sale at auction.
Last updated by Mark Grantham on 14th November 2016

What is a probate property?

The term probate is commonly used to describe the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. The process involves collecting all the assets and liabilities of the deceased and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased’s will.

If the deceased owned a house or flat, this will be included in the estate. And it is very often sold as part of the administration rather than being transferred directly to a beneficiary. The decisions on how to sell the property are made by the executors of the estate – usually friends, family or a solicitor. And the executor will act as the owner would have, in signing the contract of sale and other legal documents.

Why sell a probate property at auction?

There are 3 main reasons why probate properties are suited to sale at auction.

Firstly, there are certain responsibilities an executor has towards the beneficiaries named in the will. The executor has a duty to ensure the property is marketed for sale on the open market to achieve a fair price. One way to do this is to sell the property at public auction, which offers a transparent sale, so there is no way the executor can be accused on under selling the property.

Secondly, many of the probate properties that we come across have not been updated in recent years. Properties in need of refurbishment, particularly those in popular areas generate a lot of demand at auction. It’s not uncommon to see an unmodernised property sell at auction for a lot more than an estate agents suggested asking price.

Lastly, all parties involved in probate will usually be keen to settle the estate as quickly as possible. Taxes need to be paid and the beneficiaries share of the estate paid out. Auction is the quickest and most reliable route to selling.

Can a house be sold before probate is granted?

The short answer is no, but the property can be marketed for sale. It’s usual to commence the marketing of a probate property at the same time as applying for the grant of probate. The two processes then run in tandem and with any luck the grant is issued by the time contracts of sale are ready to be exchanged. Read more about selling before the grant of probate has been issued.

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Next steps…

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When selling a property at auction it’s quite common for sellers to receive offers before auction day. Although it can be tempting to secure a sale by accepting an offer, if there’s a good level of interest in the property then why not let bidders fight it out against other buyers on auction day!

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💬 Auction talk

“A real advantage of selling at auction is the competitive effect of having multiple bidders fighting it out for your property, bidding up the price within the space of a few minutes.“