Selling a House in Probate in Washington State
Losing a loved one is difficult, but the situation can become even more complicated if you’ve been appointed an executor or administrator of your loved one’s estate. In a perfect world, people would pass on with no debt and with a well-thought-out will that leaves no room for interpretation.
However, a tidy ending isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s necessary to sell a house while the estate is still in probate. While the probate property sale procedure can be complex and intensive, with the right help and information, you can navigate the process and sell a house in probate. We created this probate guide to help.
What Is Probate?
If you’ve recently been named the executor or administrator of an estate in Washington, you may be wondering what exactly probate is and how the process works. An estate is usually put into probate if someone passes away without leaving a will and there’s no one else named on their deeds, titles, and financial holdings. Since no one is named, it’s left to the court to decide who’ll receive the components of the deceased’s estate.
Even if the deceased did leave a will, the estate may still go into a probate just so the court can make sure that the will is carried out properly and that each person involved is treated justly.
Reasons for Selling a House in Probate
There are several reasons why an executor may decide to sell a house while in probate. One of the most common reasons is that the deceased left a lot of unpaid debts. The executor will often sell the home to settle the debts, which may need to be taken care of immediately.
Sometimes a person passes away without a will and leaves behind more than one potential heir, typically children. If the kids can’t decide on who will get the house, then it may be sold in probate and the proceeds split amongst the children.
In other cases, the deceased left the house to two or more heirs. The heirs may decide to sell the house and divide the profits instead of keeping the home.
Steps for Selling a House in Probate in Washington
There are quite a few steps to the probate property sale procedure, and it’s more involved than selling a house conventionally. Follow these steps to sell probate property.
Decide How to Sell the Property
You have a few options for selling the house. You can work with a real estate agent and have it listed just as you would with a regular house. You also have the option of selling it privately to an individual or to an investment company in Washington, such as Kind House Buyers. By selling privately, you can avoid paying agent fees.
If You Go the Traditional Route
If you decide to go with a traditional sale, you’ll go through these steps, which vary slightly to sell a probate house. Obtain information about each step of probate on nolo.com
1. Valuation or Appraisal
Before you can list the house, you’ll have to hire someone to do a valuation or appraisal. You can usually hire a certified appraiser or get someone like a real estate agent to do this for you.
2. Listing the House
Your real estate agent will list and market the house just as they would any other home. The only difference is that there will be a note on the listing stating that the house is in probate. The realtor will take their standard fee, which is usually 6%.
With a conventional sale, once you start getting offers, you can choose the one you want. When the house is in probate in Washington, the buyer must pay 10% down. The probate court will have to approve the offer before you can sell the probate house.
4. Notice of Proposed Action
As expected, the process to sell probate property can take some time. Once the court has approved the buyer’s offer, the probate attorney will file a sale confirmation. They’ll next send a Notice of Proposed Action to anyone who has a legal stake in the estate.
This Notice gives them time to appeal to the court if there’s something they think is wrong with the sale. They’ll usually have 30 days to file an appeal. If no appeal is filed, then the sale can move forward.
Even after the Notice period, there are still a few more hurdles to jump through before the sale can be finalized. The court requires the house to go through a bidding process. This gives others an opportunity to bid on the house. Washington State law requires that the first bid be $500 plus 5% more than the original offer. Each subsequent bid must also be $500 plus 5% more than the previous bid.
6. Finalization of Sale
If there are no competing bids, then the sale can go forward as normal. You’ll close on the house with the buyer just as you would in a traditional sale.
Doing a Private Sale While in Probate in Washington
Many executors decide to go with a private sale for probate houses. The process is often faster and less complicated. In many cases, the house may need a lot of work before it’s ready to be put on the market. You may not have the time or money to put into these repairs.
You may opt to sell the house to a private investment company. While you’ll still have to go through the same steps as with the traditional route, the process is much less complicated when you do a private sale. If you’re in Washington State, Kind House Buyers specializes in buying houses as-is. You can save the time and money you’d spend getting a house ready for a traditional sale.
Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a House in Probate
Since selling probate houses is so complicated, it’s easy to make mistakes. Be sure to avoid these mistakes so you don’t make the process any longer than it has to be.
Jumping the Gun
Whether you have debtors to pay or just family members who are ready to have the estate settled, you’re likely ready to get the house sold so you can move forward. However, it’s imperative that you don’t skip any of the steps in the process.
Don’t do anything until you’re legally allowed to. You shouldn’t even start doing repairs on the property until everything is in process with the probate court. If you move forward without permission, you may wind up in legal trouble and you could wind up spending even more money and time.
Real Estate Disclosures
In a typical house sale, the seller is required to complete a detailed disclosure about the home. This disclosure is intended to make sure potential buyers are informed of any issues with the house before they go under contract.
When selling a house in probate, the executor likely hasn’t lived in the house and won’t have knowledge of the different elements that would be included in a normal disclosure. Thus, the courts often don’t require you to complete a disclosure.
Still, you may want to proceed with caution here. If you don’t complete a disclosure, you may be opening yourself up to legal action in the future if the buyer feels the house was misrepresented during the sale. You can work with your agent and lawyer to make sure everything is being disclosed.
Not Hiring a Lawyer
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to sell a house in probate is failing to hire a lawyer who specializes in probate law. Unless you have extensive knowledge of the probate process in Washington, it’s easy to make mistakes during the process that may have lasting legal and financial consequences.
A probate lawyer can help guide you through the process and help you avoid any pitfalls. They understand the law and process to make sure you do everything correctly and make the process go more smoothly. By hiring a probate lawyer, you can eliminate much of the stress that goes along with selling a house in probate.
Waiting Too Long to Start the Process
When you’ve just lost a loved one, you probably want to take some time to grieve and may not want to get caught up in legal issues. However, since you can’t do anything to the house until the probate process has started, it’s to your benefit to get things moving as quickly as possible.
If you let the house sit for too long, then new maintenance issues may arise. You’ll then have to spend extra time and money to get the house ready for sale if you plan to go the traditional selling route. It’s best to start as soon as possible so you can get through the probate process and sell the house.
Frequently Asked Questions
You likely have many questions about selling a house in probate in Washington State. Read on for some answers.
Can a house be sold while in probate?
Houses can be sold while in probate. In fact, it’s sometimes recommended to sell during probate if the deceased had outstanding debts or if they neglected to name an heir. Since selling a house in probate is more complicated, be sure to follow the steps to the letter to avoid any setbacks or issues. To learn more check out our recent post: Can a house be sold while it is in probate?
How long does it take to sell a house while in probate?
The probate process can be quite lengthy, especially when compared to a traditional sale. The entire process can wind up taking several months or even a year. You’ll have to go through the process of getting the estate in probate, finding a buyer, going through the Notice period, the bidding, and then the finalizing of the sale. Even small hiccups can set you back weeks.
Can I sell a probate property fast?
Yes, depending on the type of filing and whether or not the person handling the estate has “full authority” to sell. Assuming you have the right filing, you may be able to sell the asset under the Independent Administrations of estate act. Give us a call (253) 216-2497 or click here to get a fair offer. We can close in as little as 10-14 days
Probate Resources And Related Articles
“Probate” proceedings normally begin before an inherited house is sold. Probate litigation has five stages. Obtain information about each stage of probate on nolo.com.
- Common Tax Questions When Selling a House in Probate
- The Probate Process for a house in Seattle
- How to Sell A Probate Property in Washington State
Can a house be sold while in probate? While the process of selling a house in probate is difficult, especially if you’re also dealing with grief from the loss of a loved one, it’s possible and sometimes necessary. As long as you follow the steps and seek legal advice, you should be fine.
If you’d like to make the process of selling a probate house in Washington state easier, Kind House Buyers buys houses in probate. We give fair prices for the house and work with you to make the process as easy as possible.
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These findings apply to all cities in Washington including Tacoma, Everett, Yakima, Bellevue, Kirkland, Des Moines, Bellingham, Vancouver, Spokane, and more!