What's the Difference Between a Trust Sale and a Probate Sale in California?

What's the Difference Between a Trust Sale and a Probate Sale in California?

  • Mary Ann Teixeira
  • 09/7/22

As you begin shopping for Burlingame real estate, you may hear talk about trust and probate sales. It’s normal to be unfamiliar with both of these concepts, but in order to set yourself up for success in this market, you will want to have a working understanding of what each type of sale entails. Your realtor can fill in the gaps when you have questions or when something doesn’t make sense, but this article will give you some of the basic principles so that you don’t get lost in conversations when either topic comes up.
 
First of all, it’s important to know what trust and probate sales have in common. In either case, the owner of the home is recently deceased. Now, their estate is working to sell their home. What makes them different, as the sections below will explain, is the level of court involvement.

1. What does a trust sale entail?

In a trust sale, the buyer won’t have to take any special action. The instructions for the sale of the home are left in the trust by the deceased homeowner. This allows the estate to act without the court system becoming involved. Usually, this results in significant savings of both time and money. One trustee often makes the decisions on behalf of the Burlingame real estate, and they possess full authority to make critical decisions about how to sell the home. In some cases, there may be multiple trustees, such as several siblings in the same family. The process may be more challenging if there are several trustees, but the buyer may never become aware that any disagreements or discussions are taking place.

2. What does a probate sale entail?

In a probate sale, the court handles the sale of the home. This process usually takes longer and may incur additional fees on behalf of the selling party. Some probate sales may take as long as two years, although others can proceed more quickly, and may be done in as little as six months. Regardless, the court is responsible throughout the entire process for supervising the assets and performing administrative duties throughout the sale.

3. What sort of fees are involved?

When a trust sale is taking place, the court will likely charge fees on an hourly basis. This may not take long, since the trust can transfer the property title to any children, heirs, or other trustees named in the will. The trust may also hold the property until the children reach a specific age for the majority. This most likely happens when named trustees are minors. It may also happen if the trustees want to hold off on making a sale until the market reaches a more favorable position.

On the other hand, the court may receive a commission when handling a probate sale. The attorney and the administrator will need to be compensated for their time, and the specific amount is often based on a fee schedule put into place by the court.

4. What should I know about getting involved with a trust sale?

Keep in mind that trust sales often happen soon after the previous owner’s passing. As such, you should never contact family members or trustees directly. While it is possible that they are the ones who are handling the sale, they may also choose to appoint another trustee or representative. The professional and respectful approach is to honor their privacy as much as possible. Also, keep in mind that trust sales sometimes take longer periods of time to go under contract because of the multiple parties involved in the sale. At the same time, trust sales are required to sell for market value for various reasons, and it’s unlikely that you’ll receive any sort of discount. This also means that many trust sales will happen publicly so that the estate can field as many competitive offers as possible. Trust sales don’t often take place off the market.

5. What should I know about getting involved with a probate sale?

A probate sale is intriguing for many potential buyers of Belmont luxury homes because the homes are often listed for under-value prices. This is because of increased motivation for the estate to sell off assets as quickly as possible. The state of California permits probate sale of real estate, provided that the court authorizes the sale. The seller must also be listed as the Executor or Administrator of the estate. The court will name this person at the beginning of the selling process. Keep in mind that probate property is sold as-is, and there may be certain issues you need to fix or updates you need to make upon entering the property. Also, there is an increased liability because the previous owner is deceased. In other words, you are on your own as you discover issues with the property since you can’t hold the previous owner liable.

6. Who can help me through the buying or selling process?

Now that you have a better working understanding, you may feel more confident about entering one of these sales. At the same time, it’s still important to rely on expert opinions rather than trusting your own research or information. When it comes to handling trust and probate sales, you would be wise to consult with an attorney who can answer all of your questions and fill in any gaps in your current level of understanding. Also, consider partnering with a qualified and experienced real estate agent who can help you navigate through twists and turns in the market. For many people, Mary Ann Teixeira is the person who they trust to walk with them through the home buying or selling process. Mary Ann values high-energy personal engagement along with supreme levels of integrity and honesty. She has helped countless individuals find Belmont luxury homes, and she would love for you to be the next person she serves.




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With nearly 15 years of real estate experience, Mary Ann has acquired those intuitive skills that are crucial to negotiating, communicating and navigating through what has become a very sophisticated real estate market. During that time, she has earned the respect of her peers, and developed a huge list of past clients creating a very successful referral business.

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