Selling a probate property at auction – everything you need to know.

Probate Auction

Probate is the legal and financial process of administering a deceased estate. This involves the organisation and distribution of money, assets (often property) and possessions.

Why sell a probate property at auction?

Generally, the majority of probate properties usually require a level of improvement works; whether that be a full renovation or just some light modernisation, and this ultimately appeals to the core auction buyer’s market.

As we see everyday on the hit TV show, Homes Under the Hammer, the classic model of buying a property to improve and either sell on or rent out is an extremely popular one. As such, by combining this high level of competition under an auction environment often sees the eventual sale price far exceed the initial ‘guide’ on a probate property. What’s more, once the gavel comes down, the sale is legally binding, leaving no room for a buyer to change their mind or back out.

Is it just the physical condition of a property that makes auction so well suited to this kind of sale?

No, whilst properties in a poor state of repair often attract the headlines, we sell a whole range of properties and in varying conditions.

By its very nature, there is also an emotional element to a probate sale. For example, many of the properties we sell are former family homes where the executor holds found memories of growing up there. Seeing the property now empty and potentially in a vulnerable state can be difficult, so offering a swift and secure route of sale adds a level of comfort to the seller. Equally, knowing what date the property is going to sell on – i.e. Auction Day – allows for the family / executors to mentally prepare for this. Combined with the secure auction sale, it can bring closure to what is a difficult period. 

Do executors need to clear the property before sale?

No. We advise all vendors to take whatever possessions they wish from the property prior to the sale and leave behind anything they don’t want. The contents of the sale will be confirmed with a ‘Fixtures & Fittings’ list (TA10) which can be found in the legal pack.

What happens if there are multiple beneficiaries who aren’t in agreement?

During what is often a highly emotional time, it’s not uncommon for some executors to not always see eye to eye. We often have cases where a number of siblings have inherited a property but they might be at different stages in their lives. As such, they have different views or requirements for a sale.

One recent case was on behalf of a brother and sister who were selling their late-parents home. The sister lived in another country and was therefore hands-off when it came to the maintenance and security of the property. However, the brother, who lived close-by had the burden of handling the day-to-day issues that comes with owning a property, i.e. collecting post. One of the key advantages to auction in these circumstances is the vendors only have to agree on one thing: the reserve price. Once the reserve is set, the property goes to public auction where we can demonstrate with transparency that the property has achieved best price.

Does a seller have to wait for the grant of probate before selling the property at auction?

Not necessarily. If probate has already been granted, the property would go to auction and once sold, the standard completion period is 28 days. If the probate has not yet been granted, the property can still be sold at auction, however it wouldn’t complete until grant of probate. This would require the solicitor including a special condition into the contract to allow for the completion period to be extended until probate comes through.

Is this a common process with auction sales?

Yes. Often probate properties are empty and therefore potentially vulnerable to vandalism / falling into disrepair etc. As such, many executors are keen to sell sooner rather than later, so this offers a quicker route for them.

Who are your main clients of probate instructions and do you provide written probate appraisals for them?

We act on behalf of many direct-executors who contact us independently. We work with a high number of probate-solicitors and Estate Agent Partners who see the benefit of auction for this type of sale. In all cases, we are happy to provide a free, no-obligation written appraisal.

What are some examples of probate properties that have been sold via auction?

Over years we've sold hundreds of probate properties. Two of those sales were in Sheffield - the first being 42 Duncan Road.

Duncan Road was part of an estate and the property had been vacant for over 25 years .Consequently, all aspects required attention and there was considerable interest from local builders. The final price demonstrated the shortage of such “projects” coming up for sale and the effectiveness of selling such properties by auction.

Next was 11 Earl Marshal Road. With this property, our client’s late father was well know in the area and so considerable local interest was generated. The auction offered all parties the opportunity of bidding and the eventual sale price was well above expectations.

Another example of a recent probate property we've sold include this semi-detached house in Rhyl.

It's not just properties we sell either, as demonstrated by two recent land sales in Liverpool - Land at 83 South Street and Land at 85 South Street. 

How should someone get in touch to sell a probate property by auction?

They can contact the office directly on 0345 505 1200 and speak to a member of our dedicated team who will be happy to discuss their selling requirements.  

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