Selling a Probate Property
Patient, compassionate advice
When selling an inherited home, dealing with the to-ing and fro-ing can be stressful and time consuming, especially after a loss.
As well as the stress and heartache of losing someone, you now have the burden of liquidating their assets and it’s a little different from the normal process. At Anthony James Estate Agents we appreciate that it maybe something you have never done before and need some patient, compassionate advice to help you navigate the do’s and don’ts.
Below are a few steps you will find helpful but feel free to call us on 0208 304 0666 or contact us here if you have any questions or need more advice.
1. Apply for probate
First you must be the executor of a will and you’ll need to get what is known as a grant of probate. Probate is a legal document issued by a court. It costs between £155 and £273 to apply for probate.
Once obtained, this document confirms you and any other executors have the legal authority to deal with the money and property belonging to the person who died.
It can take approximately 12 weeks or more to get probate, so it is best to get this applied for first.
Apply for probate on GOV.UK.
2. Get a valuation on the property
Get the home valued as soon as you can. You could do this while you’re waiting for grant of probate.
With a probate sale, the value should reflect the market rate of the home at the date the owner died.
This value is likely to be a bit different from what the home might actually sell for at a later date. But don’t worry too much about this at this stage.
Getting your home valued by Anthony James Estate agents is free and we can meet you at a convenient time. You can book a free valuation here.
3. Instruct a solicitor to help you check the title and deeds
Title and deeds are the legal documents that show who own’s a property.
You can get them from the Land Registry. Ask one of our recommended solicitors to check them to see if there are any problems.
For example, there might be restrictions or defects in the title deeds which will need to be sorted out before it can be sold.
There could be an outstanding mortgage you were not initially aware of. Or there’s even the possibility that someone else might own a share in the property.
Check the title and deeds of a home on the Land Registry on GOV.UK.
NB: If you’re using a solicitor to apply for the grant of probate be mindful that it might be their only area of expertise. Therefore, you will need another solicitor who deals with conveyancing.
4. What if not everyone agrees to sell a probate home?
There may be several people named as the beneficiaries of an estate. But this doesn’t mean everyone in the will has to agree to sell a home that is part of it.
Only the person or people named as the executors of the will have the right to agree to the sale of a home.
Other people who might benefit from the property sale don’t usually need to sign off on it.
There are some wills that will ask all beneficiaries to sign off on a home sale, but this is not standard.
Either way, you should talk to everyone involved and give them a chance to have their say in the matter.
If a home is sold for less than market value, disgruntled beneficiaries do have the option of suing the executor.
Of course, this is unlikely. But emotions run high when people are grieving, so it helps to keep the lines of communication fully open and to record everything agreed in writing.
5. Put the property on the market
Instructing Anthony James estate agents is straight forward. We need to do some simple background checks but once they are complete, we will advertise the property, manage the viewings, and negotiate the best deal for the estate. Once a sale is agreed we will keep a close monitor on the buyer’s performance and take any necessary action where needed to get the sale over the line.
6. Be realistic about timescales
Legally, there’s nothing to stop you from putting the property on the market and accepting an offer before probate is issued.
But the grant of probate must be in place in order to exchange contracts. And it can sometimes take 12 weeks or more for probate to be granted.
In this scenario we usually step in and manage buyers expectations and give them a realistic timescale while you wait for the grant of probate.
7. Get the home insured
As an executor, it’s also your job to make sure the property you’re selling is properly insured.
Insurers can decide not to pay out on claims if the policy is still in the name of the person who has died. But it’s easy to call the insurer and ask them to change the name.
It’s important you tell the insurer if the house is now standing empty. Most home insurance policies will not cover a property that’s unoccupied for more than 30 days.
You may need to pay more to cover the house if it’s empty for longer than a month.
8. Clear the house
It’s your job to clear the home of all furniture and belongings before it is sold.
This can be a bit of an epic job. Especially if the home contains alot of memories.
Be sure to leave enough time to help you to go through everything, and call in the experts if it’s too painful.
House clearance companies and charity furniture shops may come and collect larger items for a fee.
You or other beneficiaries might plan to keep some of the furniture or items from the house.