If someone has left you a property in their will, you can’t take it on or sell it until probate has been granted. This is the legal process of giving someone permission to deal with the deceased person’s estate and it can take some time to go through the court and complete the probate process.
Recent changes to the probate system are causing quite a few problems in England and Wales, not just due to increased costs, but also because the new system itself is experiencing issues, resulting in delays to granting probate of up to a couple of months.
So, if you are buying or trying to sell a property that is involved in probate, be aware it may take longer than you had planned.
Open Property Group have added our advice when selling a probate property here.
The whole business of selling – which is already stressful if you have lost a loved one - can be made more difficult if you don’t live near the property and the local market is not familiar to you. So it’s worth considering whether you have the time to put into making sure the property is valued correctly, sold by a good local agent and an excellent legal company is on hand to make sure the transaction goes smoothly.
Do I have to wait until probate has been granted before I sell?
This depends how the property is owned.
- If it was individually owned by the person who died, then a Grant of Probate or Grant of Representation will be needed before it can be sold. However, you can still start the selling process, although exchange of contracts cant take place until the sealed grant of probate has been issued.
- If you are the spouse of the person who died and/or you owned the property as ‘joint tenants’, the deceased person’s share automatically passes to you, so you can go ahead and sell
- If it was owned by two or more people as ‘tenants in common’, the deceased’s share belongs to their estate, so you are likely to require a Grant before the property can be sold.
Essentially, unless ownership was set up so that the deceased’s share legally passed to you on their death, or the property is already registered in the beneficiaries name, you will have to wait for probate to be granted before you can sell the property.
Should I do up an inherited property before I sell it?
We find that many of the inherited properties we look at need a lot of work doing, as some haven’t been touched for 40 years or more. Whether you should spend time and money updating it before you sell depends on your objectives and who you intend to sell to.
If you are selling to a professional buyer, such as Open Property Group, renovating the property is unlikely to make much of a difference financially and will simply delay the process.
If you want to put the property on the open market, you should understand there are typically three types of buyers:
- The buyer who wants a home that’s up to date and ready to move into – and they are prepared to pay a premium for it, especially if that type of property is in short supply in a popular location. In this case, it could be a good financial move to invest in refurbishing. However you need to bear in mind the cost of works, hassle, time it will take and uncertainty that you may not achieve your projected price following the refurbishment.
- The buyer who’s looking for a project they can do up themselves. While this may sound like a great potential buyer, in my experience they often underestimate the costs of the work involved and therefore their offer may be higher than the property is worth. If they need a mortgage and the surveyor down-values the property, it can lead to delays and disappointment while the price is renegotiated. You may even lose the buyer entirely, causing longer delays and more stress.
- A property flipper or developer. This buyer will seek to renovate and re-sell the property. However typically this type of buyer will scrutinise the house and arrange numerous surveys so that they can fully evaluate the opportunity. This might lead to price renegotiations later down the line following the results of survey’s etc.
The best way to work out what to do is to talk to reputable local agents about current demand from buyers and ask a surveyor for a market valuation before and after the property is renovated, as opposed to a full survey. It may be worth asking their opinion on how long the works might take too.
How can a professional property buyer help?
There is nothing to stop you marketing a property prior to probate being granted, but you will have to make the agent and any potential buyer aware that this may take some time and you can only sell when probate has been granted.
Alternatively, you can agree a firm sale to us within days. This will enable you to release your inheritance and move on much more quickly than might be possible relying on a conventional buyer.
If you need any advice on selling an inherited property or are currently going through the probate process and would like to know how soon you could release the property’s value, please contact us today.
Watch the video below which explains more about selling your property fast or click here to continue reading this article