The Reality of Selling Real Estate through Probate

September 12, 2018

Real estate sold through probate can be a great bargain because these properties are often priced lower and must sell faster than other real estate transactions. But there are
risks involved, and probate transactions, if handled incorrectly, will take longer than traditional real estate transactions.

You have probably encountered a probate sale if you are an active real estate investor or have a family member who died owning property. Here’s how these messy probate sales work and why it is crucial to have the right attorney by your side to ensure an efficient and profitable sale.

When is a Home Sold Through Probate?

A home is typically sold through the court-supervised probate process when a person passes away owning the home in their own name. Even if the decedent had a valid Will (under Florida Law) devising the property, the Will still needs to be admitted to probate court in the county listed as the last residence on the decedent’s death certificate. Florida probate law will then dictate the administration and sale of any property owned by the decedent.

The court wants to ensure the property is marketed and sold to a willing and independent third-party buyer in an arm’s length transaction, at a sales price that is fair market value. A Florida attorney experienced in probate and real estate transactions will be crucial to ensure all of the court processes are strictly adhered in order to meet the rapidly approaching closing deadline.


In a probate sale, the property is advertised similar to other homes. The personal representative or probate attorney will work with a real estate agent, sign a listing agreement, and show the property, just as they would a standard listing. Usually, the list price is based on the listing agent’s recommendations and an independent appraisal.

Deal or No Deal – Selling the Property

A successful transaction always depends on the closing occurring in a timely manner as stated in the real estate contract. It is necessary that the personal representative first get appointed by the court via “Letters of Administration.” A prospective buyer can make an offer on the property at any moment. The personal representative will then accept or counter the offer; however, the offer is subject to the court’s approval.

If the seller accepts the offer, the attorney handling the estate must petition the court to approve the sale of the real property. This includes providing the court with required supporting documentation such as the executed “AS IS” Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase, an appraisal of the real property, a comparable market analysis of the real property, a complete inventory of the property of the estate, and consents from any interested parties. If any of these items is deficient, the court approval will be delayed. Without court authorization, the title company will not facilitate the closing of the property.

Be Proactive

If you find yourself in a situation where a deceased family member’s real estate is being sold through probate, the last thing you want to do is wait. Mortgage payments, reverse mortgage payments, property taxes, homeowner’s association fees, and utility payments are still be due each month and continue to accrue even if no one is living in the home. This means less money in your pocket upon closing the deal.

Our law firm focuses on probate real estate matters. We know the probate process and we know how to close your probate case FAST. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or to learn how we can save you time and money by ensuring your probate real estate sale runs as smoothly as possible.