Probate real estate investing involves buying property from probate estates. Probate is the process used to inventory and distribute assets owned by someone who has died. Depending on the complexity of the estate, the probate process can last between six months to three years. During this time the estate is responsible for maintaining the property and paying mortgage payments, utilities and insurance.
Probate real estate investing provides an opportunity for estate administrators to sell real estate holdings. This is particularly beneficial for administrators who are struggling to pay mortgage payments or maintain upkeep on property held in probate.
The first step of probate real estate investing requires a visit to the local courthouse where probate matters are handled. When an estate is placed into probate it becomes a matter of public record. The majority of information regarding the estate can be located in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. Typically, the Will designates the estate executor and outlines how the decedent wishes to have their personal belongings and financial assets distributed.
If the decedent dies without executing a Will (intestate), probate records will indicate who has been assigned to administer the estate. Generally, this is a direct lineage relative. However, if the decedent has no living relatives or no one accepts the position of estate administrator, the probate court assigns an outsider to manage the estate.
Once the Administrator’s contact information is located, the next step requires a search of deed records to locate real estate held in the decedent’s name. Records of Deed record land ownership and transactions. When real estate is transferred or sold, a new deed is recorded. Deed records reveal if the property has a mortgage. If so, the estate is required to maintain payments throughout the duration of probate.
If the property has a second mortgage against it, chances are the heirs will need to sell the property in order to pay-off outstanding balances. The estate administrator is authorized to make decisions regarding the sale. However, if multiple heirs exist, they must all agree to sell real estate held in probate. In some instances, the estate may require permission from the probate judge to sell real estate holdings.
Upon compiling a list of potential probate real estate deals, investors will need to make contact with the estate executor. This can be done by phone, mail or in person. When contacting the estate administrator it is imperative investors be respectful and offer their sincere condolences.
Most estate administrators and beneficiaries are unaware they can liquidate real estate during the probate process. Offering to purchase their property could solve their financial problems and provide investors with instant equity in their investment. Oftentimes, real estate can be purchased well below market value when heirs are in need of immediate cash.