Probate Sales in California

The probate process is a court-approved process that is designed to sort out the transfer of a person’s property at death.  I have been involved with several sales of properties in probate, as the listing agent or the selling agent or both.  Probate sales are different from regular sales in that once an offer has been accepted by the administrator or executor of the estate, the sale has to be approved by the court, unless full authority to administer the estate has been granted unter the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA).  It has been my experience that IAEA probate properties are easier and faster to market, as some buyers and agents are intimidated by the court-approved sales process, often because they do not want to fall in love with a home, just to be out-bid in court and also because they have not really bought the property until it is approved by the court.

Some tips for selling probate properties:  There may be a lot of personal property that was left by the decedent and the problem of removing furniture, etc., can be burdensome.  The last listing I sold was filled with old computers, old furniture and old CDs and DVDs.  The heirs should carefully go through the property and set aside items that are precious, such as family photos and other memorabilia.  There are companies that can remove the other unwanted items.  A property in probate is listed just like any other with the asking price based on recent sales in the neighborhood.  Where court approval is required, the price may be more attractive because the process is more lengthy and complicated cialis vente internet.  Once an offer is accepted by the personal representative, the attorney for the estate will set a court date, which is probably at least a month out.  During this waiting time, notices about the court date are placed in the local newspapers to attract additional offerers.  There is a statutory formula for the first overbid.  It is an additional amount equal to 10% or more of the first $10,000 and 5% on the amount of the original bid in excess of $10,000.  If the court receives an acceptable overbid, the court will ask for additional overbids.  The judge will usually establish minimum increments as to the additional overbids.  All overbids will be taken into account based on the gross amount of the bid. .  If you are a prospective bidder on a probate listing, it might be advisable to set a limit on the amount you will pay, in case the price is bid up beyond the value of the property.  This is a simplification of the process, and only an attorney can give proper advice.

Top Ten Questions for a Home Inspector

Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you will ever make. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or if you have “been around the block before,” a qualified home inspector will be a crucial member of your real estate team.  A great inspector can point out expensive repairs, familiarize you with your new home, and give you the peace of mind that you are buying a great home.  Not all home inspectors are created equal.  Consider asking these ten questions as you interview potential inspectors:

1.  May I see your license? Although home inspectors are licensed differently in each state, a qualified home inspector should be able to show you a license and professional association credentials.

2.  Have you had any recent training? Residential building codes and requirements change frequently.  A great inspector should be taking frequent training classes in your local area.

3.   How many homes have you inspected?  May I have a referral from a past customer? Don’t leave your home inspection to chance.  Hiring a seasoned professional means that he will be able to easily recognize potential pitfalls.

4.   Is home inspection your only business? Only hire a home inspector who is strictly a home inspector.  In fact, most states forbid licensed home inspectors from also being contractors, roofers, or repairmen.

5.    What does your inspection cover? A good inspection covers the home’s foundation, structure,exterior, interior, roof, attics and basements, plumbing, electrical, and much more. At the end of your inspection, you should receive a written report.  Recently, many home inspectors have started including digital pictures in inspection reports.

6.  May I come to the inspection? Being on-site during your future home’s inspection is invaluable. Have the inspector point out all issues and flaws to you in person, and make sure to ask questions and take notes.

7.  Can you come look at this? You may have noticed a few quirks during visits to your new home. Point out these concerns to your inspector.

8.  What condition is the roof in?Depending on materials and climate, the average home’s roof lasts about 20 years. Roof replacements are a costly investment. If you are buying an older home, ask your inspector for an estimate of when it will need to be replaced.

9.  Can you show me how that works? Home inspectors are experts in your home’s various systems.  Especially if you are a first-time homebuyer, have your inspector take a few minutes to show you how to use your home’s furnace, water heater, electrical
panel, and emergency shutoffs.

10.      If you were buying this home, what would you fix and when? Your inspector may not be able to give you specific repair
estimates, but he or she can help you prioritize items that need to be repaired immediately, and those that can wait a few months or years.

 

Common Credit Myths About Buying a Home

                Whether your annual earnings range well into six figures or they are on the more modest end of national salary average, you know you will probably need credit to buy a home. While you likely know how important credit is to your home-buying plans, you may not be aware of the truth behind some common credit myths.

Myth:   If your bills are paid and you have never defaulted on a loan, mortgage or credit card bill, you do not need to worry about your credit report or credit score.

Truth:   Many factors influence your credit score, and payment history is just one of them. When calculating your score, credit bureaus also consider length of credit history, types of credit used and ratio of credit available to credit used. Even if your payment history is good, scoring lower on one of the other factors could lower your overall credit score.

Myth:  As long as you know your credit score, you do not need to look at your credit report before applying for a mortgage.

Truth:  A lender will certainly look at your credit report, so you should know what is on it before they do. Errors may occur on a credit report, and if there are any negative marks on your credit history you will want to know about them – and address them – before a lender asks.

Myth:  Checking your credit score is a hassle, and it can not really help you manage your credit in the long run.

Truth:  Websites like FreeCreditScore.com make it easy to check your credit score. Keep in mind that lenders use a variety of scores when evaluating credit worthiness, and the one you obtain online will vary from what a lender might see.  Still, any score can be a valuable educational tool that helps you better understand how lenders view your credit.

Myth:   If your credit is not perfect, you will not be able to get a mortgage.

Truth:   Lenders are stricter than they have been in the past and a good credit score and report can certainly make you a more appealing prospect to them. However, a score in the lower range does not mean you can not get a mortgage at all. But a higher score is likely to net you more options – and better terms.

Myth:   When you apply for a mortgage, the lender could share your personal information (including your credit score and history) with other companies.

Truth:   The law limits how banks and other financial institutions can use your information and to whom they can disclose it. If you are not sure how a lender may use your information, ask. Depending on the situation, you may be able to limit disclosure of your information.  Home prices and interest rates are still low across the country, making it a good time to buy a house, real estate experts say. Knowing the truth behind some common credit myths – and understanding your own credit history and score – can help you take advantage of the many opportunities still available for home buyers. 

Making That Offer on Your Dream Home

You have been looking at homes for a few months now and you believe you have found your dream home.  The asking price is $850,000; how much should you offer?  Here are a few tips about handling that offer:

  • Because you have seen a number of homes, compare the homes you have seen with this one and you will probably have a good idea if the asking price is in the right range.  Your Realtor should be able to provide you with a list of comparable homes that have sold within the last six months and you can derive the list price to sales price percentage.
  • Write the offer to be accepted, not to get a counter offer.  If you are aware of the listed prices and the sales prices, make an offer that is reasonable…one that will make the seller wonder if you will go away if he does not sign it.  If you are within 10% of the asking price, you will have a good chance of coming to terms in today’s market.  In brisker markets we need to be within 5% of the asking price.  If the property is offered below market value, you may consider going over the asking price.  It has been my experience that “low-ball” offers are rarely successful.  Most likely, the owner will either not respond at all or will counter back at full price or will come down only a little bit.  One time I presented a low offer on an investment property.  The owner said, “Get out of my house!”  Needless to say, that deal did not go through.  Because an owner is often insulted by such offers, they are seldom made.  Also, instead of writing an offer of $800,000 for a home priced at $850,000, consider writing it for $815,500; at a glance it is not so obvious how far off the price is and your offer has 5’s in it, just like the asking price.  Ask your agent to find out which title, escrow, and termite companies are acceptable to the seller so you won’t receive a counter offer just spelling out the services to be used.
  • Ask your Realtor not to give too much advance notice to the listing agent that you will be writing an offer.  Because the listing agent represents the seller, he will want to get the highest price for his client.  Nine times out of ten he will be on the phone calling everyone who has shown an interest in the property to get a bidding war going and before you know it there is another offer on your dream home.
  • Ask your Realtor to present the offer in person to the seller and seller’s agent, if at all possible.  The reasons that personal presentations are more successful are:  1.  Your agent will be able to tell the seller all about you and your family and your qualifications and  2.  Your agent will be able to read the seller’s “body language,” which is key to successful negotiations.  3.  Your agent will be more likely to walk away from the table with an acceptance or counter offer.  One time I was presenting an offer to a listing agent because the Seller was out of town.  There was another offer to be presented after mine.  The agent told me what the seller’s terms were and they included price, closing date and amount of the earnest money deposit.  She went on to say that a counter offer would be issued the following morning.   Because I knew what the Seller would require, I went over to the buyer’s house (it was probably after 10 PM) and we re-wrote the offer per the seller’s terms and submitted it to the listing agent.  If we had waited for the counter offer, we would have been competing with the other buyer, but because our offer was exactly what the owner wanted, he signed it without countering back to the other buyer.
  • Be sure your offer is accompanied by a loan approval, proof of funds to close the escrow and a copy of your earnest money deposit.  Because of the difficulties of obtaining a purchase money loan today, most sellers will not even consider an offer without verifying that the prospective buyer is qualified to purchase their homes.  If you are paying all cash provide verification of the funds to close the escrow with your offer.
  • Give the seller time to consider your offer.  When a seller feels backed into a corner, he will often say “no”.

 In closing I would like to add that if you really love a certain home and it is within your means to buy it, go for it!  I have had a few buyers who never got over “the fish that got away”.