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How to Sell a House During the Probate Process in Harford County, MD and surrounds

A probate sale can seem like an intimidating process. It’s certainly not simple. It can cause strain on a family, but with knowledge and compassion, it can go a lot easier. A probate property transaction doesn’t have to be difficult.

First let’s cover what is probate property. Real estate is sold in probate court when the owner of a property passes away. If there is no appointed heir when the owner passes, the property is turned over to the courts and then appointed to the closest relative as the executor to sell the property.

After all the steps for selling have been taken, the probate court will handle proceeds being split between beneficiaries.

What is probate property?

When a property owner dies, the assets must be transferred and the property is considered in probate. A court known as a probate court will decide how to distribute those assets.

Family members often find it challenging to grieve when they know that they will need to go through the probate process. The probate process happens when a person dies with a will only. Many times, the probate process involves selling the deceased individual’s home and other property. It is essential to understand how to sell a house during the probate process because certain unique requirements need to be met.

The Appointment of an Administrator or Executor of the Estate

In the first step of the probate process, the probate court will appoint an administrator or executor of the estate. In some cases, the deceased individual will have named an estate executor in their will. When that is not the case, the court will appoint someone to act as the executor. After the executor’s appointment, the executor will begin assessing all of the estate’s assets, including homes and other property. They will need to get accurate valuations of all of the real estate and other assets owned by the estate. An estate executor must take specific steps before they list the property for sale.

Formal Real Estate Sales in Probate

First, the probate court will determine whether the probate process is formal or informal. In a formal probate process, the court must approve every single step of the real estate sales transaction. As a result, the formal process is often more lengthy than the informal process. In many cases, formal probate sales of real estate take over six months. The executor will also need to hire an attorney to assist with the real estate sale.

The estate executor will need to get the real estate appraised before putting it up for sale. The appraisal must also meet stringent requirements. The appraisal will be the basis for the asking price of the home. Probate courts require that the property sells for at least 90% of the home’s appraised value. After receiving the appraisal, the executor will petition the probate court to begin the sale. Once the court hearing is over, it will grant the executor permission to list the home’s sale formally. The sale must be listed as a probate sale.

After someone makes an offer on the property, another court hearing will be required. While the parties wait for the hearing to take place, the real estate sale must be advertised in a local newspaper, and the advertisement must mention the offer sales price. Doing so allows other potential buyers the chance to bid on the real estate property at the court hearing.


Selling a House: Informal Probate

In some cases, the probate court allows an informal probate process. This process will be used when the real estate in question was owned by the deceased with someone else in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship. In other words, the deceased individual owned the real estate as a joint tenancy with rights to survivorship, as indicated on the deed. Typically, when spouses have purchased a home together, they will own the home jointly. Informal probate can also be used to sell a home when the property was placed in a living trust. There are fewer hoops the estate executor must jump through to sell a real estate property informally. Additionally, an attorney is not required for informal probate sales.

First, the estate executor needs to file the will and all corresponding probate forms with the probate court. Next, the probate court will issue Letters of Testamentary. These documents allow the estate executor to manage all of the estate assets, from real estate to bank accounts. The executor must complete many forms and file them with the court during this process. Finally, the executor will list the house for sale and sell it in the usual way without any bidding auction or probate court interference. This process typically takes significantly less time because the court does not need to be involved to the extent necessary in the formal probate process.


If you are an estate executor or a beneficiary, you may feel overwhelmed by the probate process. One of the most important things you can do as the estate executor, or someone else who needs assistance with the probate sale of real estate is to contact an experienced company that specializes in in buying or selling probate property.

Sale of the Probate Property in Harford County, Maryland and surrounds

Appraise the property first. There are appraisers you can easily find by a quick search online, or if you have already selected a real estate agent, they will most likely have a referral.

The home is now listed for sale and marketed for exposure. Your agent will list the home on the multiple listing service, so that it ends up on sites like Realtor.com and Zillow. Buyer’s agents will know that the property is a probate sale.


When the property has an accepted offer, a Notice of Proposed Action is mailed to all heirs, simply stating the terms of the proposed sale. The heirs have 15 days to review the notice and pose any objections. If there are no objections, the sale may proceed without a court hearing.

Breaking Down Commission When Selling Probate Property

Real estate agent commission is typically split 50/50 between the agents who represent the buyer and seller. So, out of a gross 6% commission, your agent would only typically get 3% gross.

Out of that 3%, the agent has to split with their office. This generally ranges from a 50/50 to as high as a 90/10 split. So, on average the actual agent may only get 1.5% of that 6% commission.

Don’t discount using a Realtor because you think you must pay 6% in commissions. Agents may negotiate lower rates depending on the type of transaction, the services required, and frequency of business.

Home sellers may also work with their agents on bonuses and incentives. These may be paid by the seller, or out of the listing agent’s commission. For example, offering a $10,000 bonus for a full price offer which closes within 30 days, or contributing 3% of the purchase price toward buyer’s closing costs.

Can you sell a house while going through probate?

Yes, you can. It will occur through probate court after an executor is appointed and the property is appraised.


Other Ways To Sell A Home Fast

We Buy Houses for Cash Companies

You’ve no doubt seen their signage by the side of the road, boasting their famous tagline: “We buy ugly houses!”

If you’re looking for how to sell your home fast, companies that make cash offers for homes are one of the top methods. These are usually local investors who want to flip your house for a profit. More importantly, they have the cash on hand. This is why they’re so much faster than most other methods.

Because they have the money on hand they don’t have to wait on financing approval or for mortgage paperwork to be completed. This allows them to buy your home in a much shorter time period.

Typically, We Buy Houses for Cash companies will set up a free, no-obligation consultation to see your home in person. They’ll usually make you an offer either on the spot or within 24 to 48 hours. If you accept their offer, they can usually close within anywhere from seven days to three weeks, although they may extend later if that’s better for you.

We Buy Houses for Cash companies will buy your house “as is,” meaning you don’t have to spend time or money fixing it up or adding curb appeal. And for the most part, they won’t charge any fees. What they offer is what you’ll get at closing.

So what’s the catch? The money. Although they will close quickly, We Buy Houses for Cash companies can offer as much as 30% to 50% under the market value of your home. And their offers are non-negotiable. But if you are in a hurry and the probate house needs a lot of work (is kind of a fixer-upper) then accepting an cash offer, We Buy Houses for Cash companies might be a good option.

iBuyers (Instant Buyers)

iBuyers will also make you a quick cash offer on your home. However, their process is a bit different.

Instead of going to see your home right away, they’ll take your home details via an online form. You can also upload photos and/or a video tour. The iBuyer will then use that to make you a preliminary cash offer, often within a day or two.

If you accept the offer, the iBuyer will send a local representative to inspect your home. Any necessary repairs will be estimated and deducted from the original offer, and you’ll have to sign an amended contract.

When you sign the new contract, you’ll be able to move quickly to the closing table. Most iBuyers can close in a week, although they’ll allow you to set a date further out if needed. Some iBuyers can close more quickly, but you’ll have to pay a fee for expedited services.

The main drawback of iBuyers is their fees. Although their home offer is generally reasonable, they tend to charge much higher fees than if you’d work with a Realtor. Service fees, closing costs, and non-negotiable repair fees all eat into your profits. Like with We Buy Houses for Cash companies, though, iBuyers might be a good option if you don’t mind making less money in exchange for how to sell your home fast.

Even in a hot market, working with a Realtor will take longer than selling to a We Buy Houses for Cash company or an iBuyer. But you’ll get a higher price for your home. In a strong seller’s market, this could mean getting your full asking price or even higher.

Ideally, you’ll choose a Realtor who is a local expert and has experience marketing to buyers in your neighborhood and price point. That alone will lead to a quicker sale!

And there are strategies you can employ that will help you sell your home more quickly if you decide to work with a Realtor.

Q&A

Can you empty a house before probate?

No, if the house is going through probate because there’s only a will, the executor cannot dispose of assets until probate is complete.

Can property in probate be sold?

Yes. If there is a property in the Estate, you can put it on the market. That said, the Grant of Representation or Probate will be needed to complete the sale. The person or company named on the Grant of Probate is under an obligation to sell the probate property for the open market value.

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