If you have ever experienced the probate process, you’re a step ahead of agents who haven’t.
We aren’t suggesting you specialize solely in probate listings, but adding them to your repertoire can only help swell your bank account.
The facts behind probate real estate
Although we aren’t experts on the topic, we do have first-hand experience with a probate home sale and learned a lot during the process. For an in-depth education on the topic, consult with a probate attorney.
Probate is the legal process “through which a deceased person’s estate is properly distributed to designated beneficiaries. If any debt is owed it is paid off to creditors,” according to the experts at LegalZoom.com.
Additionally, probate isn’t always necessary. This is evidenced by the volume of probate avoidance techniques hawked by probate lawyers across the country.
When probate is unavoidable, however, there is a process. Unfortunately, it varies according to state, which makes it challenging to find information.
For instance, your “lead” will be the contact person for the decedent. How this person is referred to is just one of the aspects of probate that varies.
In Hawaii, he or she is called the decedent’s “personal representative.” In California, you’ll need to find the name of the executor or executrix.
This representative is tasked with coming up with an inventory of the deceased’s estate and the disposal of the assets according to the decedent’s wishes. But wait – what if the person’s wishes aren’t clearly spelled out in a will?
In that case, the decedent is said to have died “intestate,” and the disbursement will be subject to the laws of inheritance in your particular state.
Findlaw.com offers a handy chart of where you can find the specific laws for each state, here.
Probate real estate is a growing niche
You, as a real estate agent experienced in probate sales (which you will be after your first probate transaction) are one of the decedent’s family’s biggest assets. You are an advisor, a helper, not a mercenary.
All housing market eyes are on members of the baby boomer generation. More specifically, when these folks are going to move out of the homes that the younger generations so desperately want to buy.
And the interest is justified, considering that older Americans currently own 40 percent of the country’s housing stock.
Fannie Mae calls this the “departure of these older adults from the homeownership market.” What they mean is their departure from the earthly realm, but they’re far too kind to put it that way.
While Baby Boomers are living longer than previous generations, they will “exit homeownership” during this new decade. Statistics show they will exit at a rate of 42 percent higher than the previous decade, according to Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group.
The learning curve for real estate agents
If you lack enough first-hand knowledge of the process to get you started, you’ll need to learn all you can about the probate process in your area.
Start by visiting the Findlaw.com link we mentioned earlier. Then, call your MLS or local association to find out if they offer probate educational opportunities.
For instance, the Orange County Association of Realtors, in California, at one time offered probate training by a local probate attorney (not sure if they still do).
If you’re willing to pay the cost of online courses, you’ll find them offered at AllTheLeads.com. We know nothing about the courses, so perform your due diligence before signing up.
Some of us prefer the self-taught method of learning. If you’re among this group, you’ll find loads of information online:
Then you’ll need to generate probate leads
Starting out, you may opt for buying leads, and that’s ok. While we don’t know anything about the following companies, it may be worth it to check them out.
DIY agents should know that probate records are public. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to access them.
There are two ways to approach the search, initially:
- Choose a county you’re interested in working in. Call the probate court for that county and ask how you can obtain a list of probates. Can’t find a “probate court” in that county? Call the circuit court.
- Do an online search for “[Name of County] probate records.” This should help you find the .gov site that will outline the steps to get copies of the court records.
Probate clients aren’t like other real estate clients
You’ll meet a variety of clients when you start specializing in probate real estate. Some will be grief-stricken over the loss of a parent and the loss of the family home. Others are happy to help you sell the home in the shortest amount of time possible.
Often, it becomes a group undertaking, where all the details need to be ok’d by all siblings.
Emotions may run high so if you aren’t good at dealing with them, you may want to reconsider this niche.
If, on the other hand, you’re not afraid of others’ emotions, probate real estate can be a lucrative and rewarding specialty.
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