If a house is under probate, there are many parts of the selling process that you can carry out in preparation. However, you are not allowed to exchange contracts until the probate has been granted.
What does it mean if a property is under probate?
When someone dies, their estate must be disposed of in accordance with their will and according to the relevant law. An estate will include any property they own, money, investments and other assets.
If the deceased has left a will, it will usually assign someone to be in charge of the estate. To deal with someone’s estate in accordance to their will, an individual will need to apply for a grant of probate; this is an official document, sealed by the Probate Registry, which will confirm that the person who holds it is legally entitled to settle the estate and that the will is valid.
After a grant of probate is made, the property of the deceased can then be transferred to the relevant beneficiaries or sold.
Can you sell a house under probate?
It is not legally permitted to sell a house in probate unless certain criteria are met and certain conditions exist and you cannot exchange contracts or complete the property purchase until probate has been granted. However, it is possible to legally put a house up for sale, conduct viewings, market the property, come to an agreement about sales price with a buyer, and other preparatory tasks. If they choose to do so, prospective buyers can also apply arrange a survey and apply for a mortgage in principle.
If you do choose to market the property before probate is granted, you will need to tell anyone involved in the process (for example, estate agents and prospective buyers) that the sale is not able to complete until probate has been granted. This could have an impact on prospective buyers depending on how long they are willing to wait and whether or not they are involved in a property chain.
How long does it take for probate to come through?
Probate usually takes between six to eight weeks to come through, although this varies and could be far longer in more complex cases. If you have chosen to market a property while the property is under probation, all of this time will be time that a prospective buyer has to wait in order to exchange contracts.
The whole process of selling a probate property can take around 6-12 months but more complex cases could take several years.
How can you sell a property under probate?
There are multiple ways to sell a probate property including the following:
- Estate agent – you can use an estate agent to market and sell your probate property as they would with any normal house sale. They will need to inform any prospective buyers that there could be a delay in completing the sale due to it being a probate property
- Auction – you can sell your probate property at a property auction; however, with most property auctions, you need to complete the sale within 28 days. If this is the case, this could make things complicate as you will need to wait until probate has been granted
- Cash buyer – working with a cash buyer can sometimes simplify the process as they can give you a fixed cash price and you can complete immediately as soon as the probate is granted.