Why Experience Matters When Choosing A Real Estate Agent For Your Seattle Probate Property

Why Experience Matters When Choosing A Real Estate Agent For Your Seattle Probate Property

Selecting a knowledgeable and experienced probate real estate agent, losing a loved one is a hard thing to experience, but dealing with the legal hassle that comes with estates and court process makes the grieving process even worse.

Probate happens when there is a death and the deceased person’s properties are sold or dealt with according to the local law and code. This can mean many legal proceedings and can take some time, and some probate real estate sales require court confirmation. During the probate process, all the property, assets, debts, and claims of the estate are inventoried and tallied. Then,  all valid claims are settled and the remainder of the estate distributed among the beneficiaries in accordance with the will. If that sounds complicated, it is – especially when it involves property that must be sold. For it often happens that the decedent’s real estate has to be sold in order to cover debt claims against the estate or so that the proceeds of the sale can be distributed to beneficiaries. But selling probate property is a much different animal from a traditional real estate sale. That’s why experience matters when choosing a Seattle real estate agent for your Seattle probate property.

Traditional vs. Probate Sale

When it comes to selling a Seattle property the traditional way, everything is pretty straightforward and just about any qualified Seattle real estate agent can help you. For with a traditional sale, you are acting in your own interests alone. And that means you can set your own timeline, choose your own sale price, and list the property whenever you want.

But there are a few procedural constraints. Typically, it will “take an average of three weeks to get an offer for the home,” but you still have the option of choosing to accept or turn down the offer.  Once you accept the offer, “you’ll have an average 47-day escrow period, and once all the final contracts are signed, the home is sold with without any need for court supervision” (HomeLight).

But a probate sale is much different and includes a great deal of court intervention and oversight.

For example, if you are the executor of personal representative of the estate and are charged with “selling a home during probate, you’re acting in the interest of the decedent’s estate” – not in your own interests. “This means you’ll need to follow state probate laws and any potential directives from the probate court judge when setting the price and, in some case, the timeline” (HomeLight).

What all this means is that probate sales are at least a little but usually significantly different from traditional sales. And a lot of the difference depends on whether you have been granted by the probate court rights of independent or dependent administration. Either way, the services of a knowledgeable Seattle real estate agent are essential. (Call (206) 578-3438 to discover more.)

Steps in Probate Property Sale

If you’re searching for a deal on a home to buy, you might come across a probate sale. A probate sale can happen when someone dies without a will.  So here are the typical steps involved in putting a property on the market during probate. As you’ll see, it’s a process that demands a Seattle real estate agent with extensive experience in this area.


Because a probate sale includes such heavy court involvement, the first thing you will need to do is to hire a probate attorney to guide you through the complex process.


Next, before listing the house for sale, you will have to determine its worth, the fair market value. The best course here is to hire an agent who can perform a comparative analysis or hire an appraiser who charges a flat fee.


In most states, you will have to get the nod from the probate court before you can list and sell the house. For example, in some states you will need to file an “Application for an Order to Sell Real Property,” and in other states, you will, as the executor, simply file a petition to sell real estate.


In many probate property sales, the next step is to select a reputable auction company (and your Seattle real estate agent can help with this). Your auction company will need to be fully licensed as both an auctioneer and a real estate agent or broker.


Sometimes, after getting an offer/bid and drawing up a contract for sale, you will then have to get court approval in order to finalize the sale. In most of these cases, the sale price has to be somewhere around 75% of the recorded value.

Further Complications

Probate sales can be a good option if you’re looking for a bargain, but they also come with a number of added risks and fees when compared to a traditional home sale. According to HomeLight, “If you as the executor have been granted independent administration rights, the probate property sale proceeds much in the same way as a traditional property sale. You have the freedom to set the list price, list the property on your timeline, and accept an offer without interference from the probate court.” Still, there are a number of details that you and your Seattle real estate agent will definitely have to stay on top of – such as using the correct probate contracts and making probate-specific disclosures. If you don’t take of these details properly, the judge may not allow the estate to be closed, and then you’ll have to go through the whole process again, which could take another six to nine months.

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If, however, you as the executor have been granted dependent administration rights, everything gets more complex and more drawn out. Court oversight in this instance will include an additional hearing known as a “court confirmation hearing.”

Prior to this hearing, you will have to hire a probate agent who will list the property at not less than 90% of fair market value. Then, when you get an offer, it has to go before the probate court for confirmation. Some states even require you to “remarket the property for 30 t0 45 days at that accepted offer price before presenting the offer to the court” (HomeLight). And at the confirmation hearing, the judge won’t necessarily confirm an accepted offer but may entertain higher offers from buyers at the hearing.

So, does experience matter when choosing a Seattle real estate agent for your Seattle probate property? Yes, it matters immensely. If you find yourself in this situation, then you definitely need an agent with probate sales experience.

For an agent with that kind of valuable experience, contact us today at 206-395-6262!

Emily Cressey

Emily Cressey is a real estate broker residing in Lake Forest Park, WA who services the Greater Seattle area including Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Lynnwood, Kenmore, Bothell and Edmonds, WA.

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