When an estate goes into probate, the heirs sometimes discover they’ve inherited a less-than-savory parcel of probate property. Often it’s a piece of real property they have never seen, even a property in another state. Perhaps it was a rental or a second home. Or maybe it’s just suffering from years of deferred maintenance.
Whatever the circumstances, if the conditions of the probate indicate that the property must be sold, the decedent’s family members can be further shocked to learn that they cannot fix up the property for sale.
Probate laws vary from state to state, but in California, Probate Code specifies that real property must be sold as-is.
Sellers can remove debris and scrub and sweep to their heart’s content. They can clean windows, tidy the yard and clear out the garage. But they can’t repair anything that’s broken or add so much as a lick of paint because those changes, which disqualify the property’s as-is status, would be seen as “improvements” that might be construed as trying to hide some evidence of damage or wear.
Frustrating as that may be to the sellers – “We’re embarrassed! This place is a dump!” – it may offer them an equally surprising benefit: the word “fixer” in the property description. These days, fixer is a magic word that means opportunity for contractors or creative homebuyers, and it’s not unusual for fixers to sell in multiple offers for more than their asking price.
And by the way, this is not to suggest that probate properties are run down or in poor condition. In fact, the majority are well maintained or in need of only minor freshening by their new owners.
Leave the hammer and paint brush in the tool box and talk with a probate specialist about pricing your real property to sell. If you have questions about selling (or buying) real property through a probate transaction, we would be happy to answer them. Contact The Sanborn Team at 310-777-2858 or [email protected].
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