Questions to Ask the Agent
Asking these questions in advance will save you time, money, and frustration →
While precision is central to every real estate transaction, selling during probate 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.
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 seamlessly for the entire real estate transaction, from beginning to end.
My Team values your questions and strives 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 common probate FAQs.
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 415-690-6084 and remember, when it comes to real estate…Pat Rocks!
Have you sold real property through Probate or Trust?
99% of agents have only handled one probate sale or less in their career, but when asked, most will casually say “yes.” Make sure to ask for details. How many court appearances have you made on behalf of the Executor in the last year? Making a court appearance for a buyer is night and day different from appearing on behalf of the Estate. How much of their business is focused on probate and trust sales? 95% of my business since the late 80s have been court supervised sales.
How long have you been selling Probate and Trust real estate?
Probate and trust real estate sales are riddled with complications, so it’s important to have a seasoned agent who has experience within this specialized marketplace. Their familiarity with the terms of the probate code, unique disclosures, timelines, and the process is as crucial as a surgeon’s familiarity is to their specialty. The agent must be able to explain the processes to other agents in “plain English”. In order for your agent to be a strong negotiator they must be confident in knowing what’s allowed and what isn’t within probate. I have 34+ years of successful experience to 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 protocol, court orders, court petitions, timelines for orders and petitions, which notices need to be published and when, how to monitor published notices, and have good relationships with the probate referee, probate examiners, bondsman, paralegals, and clerks.
What is your opinion on Dual Agency?
Dual agency is created when the agents representing the seller and buyer each work for the same broker. A dual agency is also created when a sole agent represents both the buyer and seller. This is called “double dipping” in the industry, and I personally believe it creates a direct conflict of interest, not to mention it leaves room for possible litigation later. Imagine going through a contentious divorce negotiation and working with your spouse’s attorney. In my opinion, the only way for a Realtor to represent their client’s best interest is to represent them solely…not by sitting on the fence as a neutral party.
What sets you apart from other agents?
Look for an assertive agent that will only represent you and who can describe their services, relevant experience, and unique capabilities as it pertains to probate. 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, with a strong support team.
May I see your references?
Every serious professional –a lawyer, a doctor, or even a mechanic – 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 they have not sold probate or trust property. Feel free to contact any of my references. for more information.
How do you market, probate and trust real estate?
Because a probate sale differs from a traditional sale, the agent should be prepared to easily relate his/her marketing examples leading up to offer acceptance subject to court confirmation, and marketing after the initial offer has been accepted. Ask to see samples of marketing the agent has completed for similar probate or trust properties. I provide a written marketing plan for each property.
Can you tell me about your past and upcoming probate sales?
The ease of their answer will let you know the depth of their experience. Last year I represented 18 personal representatives in probate, trust, and conservatorship sales. I typically am preparing one to four probate properties. Call anytime to discuss or for a private showing.
What do you know about the nuances of the Notice of Proposed Action?
The Notice of Proposed Action (NOPA) is one of two methods used when the Executor/Administrator has full authority under the “Administration of Estates Act” and has elected not to court confirm the sale of real property. The Notice is mailed to the heirs alerting them that an offer is accepted. It outlines the proposed terms, and timeline of the contract. The notified persons have 15 days to object. If there is no objection within 15 days, the sale goes through without any court hearing required. When negotiating probate offers I make sure the closing date takes into consideration the 15 day timeline.
What happens when there is an objection to the Notice of Proposed Action?
When an heir objects to a sale under the Notice of Proposed Action and the buyer agrees to move forward, a “Notice of Sale” outlining the court date, location, amount of the minimum bid and the terms must be published a minimum of three times over 3 weeks in a newspaper of general circulation. With hundreds of closed probate transactions only once have I experienced an heir objecting.
Do closing costs differ from regular sales?
Ask…Who has the responsibility to pay the county transfer tax? How much is the transfer tax? Who pays to bring the property into compliance with the city/county water/energy ordinances? The answers to these questions will be a good indicator of the agent’s experience with probate. Since the early 90’s I’ve successfully negotiated that the buyer pay these costs. The transfer tax is $7,500 per million and is paid by the seller in a regular sale.
Can you show me examples of your initial offer instructions?
The instructions should outline an “AS IS” probate sale without warranties expressed or implied by the Executor/Administrator or Agents. Instructions should also outline the terms of the probate sale, whether court confirmation is necessary, the initial offer date, amount of cashier’s check, closing cost the buyer shall pay, showing instructions, how to access disclosures, and more.
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 to share with you. 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.