Frequently Asked Probate Property Questions

How do I ensure my probate property is properly insured?

Most people will not realise it, but General household insurance will not cover you for more than a short time period once a property is empty, so the first thing to make sure is that you have the correct insurance in place. Let your current insurer know the change of circumstance, and by all means, ask for a quote. However, you are probably better off with one of the specialist insurance companies in the field and we can assist you with this.

Empty home insurance is quite a bit more expensive, so prepare for a bit of a shock, and it is definitely worth shopping around to get the best rate. Also, beware the strict criteria that such policies insist upon. The property will need to be visited regularly, with records kept, for the policy to be valid. For people who live many miles away we offer a Property Inspection Service which includes regular visits with a condition report and photographs for your peace of mind.

How should I get my probate property ready for sale?

One of the most difficult tasks for a family dealing with probate property is the house clearance. The house and contents are so full of memories that it can seem overwhelming, so take your time.

A good idea is to get each family member to visit and chose what items of sentimental value they would like to keep. And if there are items of significant monetary value then you will need a formal contents valuation for probate.

Once the family have removed everything of sentimental or monetary value then the next job is to get the property emptied and cleaned and the garden tidied so that it can be properly and safely viewed by the general public at an open day.

This is where our Property Management Service helps out, as we work with trusted local companies and organise quotes for your approval so that the house and garden is left ready for photography and viewings to begin.

What is the best way to sell my probate property?

Most property in this country is sold by Private Treaty, which is when you set what’s called a Guide Price, market the property, hold viewings and invite potential buyers to make an offer.

This is great for properties that have been modernised and are in a good state of repair but for many probate properties, selling by Auction or Informal Tender is often a better option.

Selling by auction – The great thing about auctions is that they create a sense of competition. We all want something that someone else wants. And in the heat of the moment, the heart often rules the head. The crucial point is that when the gavel falls a legal contract is in place, so contracts are exchanged and the property is sold. Completion follows, usually in 28 days.

Selling by Informal Tender – This is ideal for property with significant development potential. We market the property and set a deadline by which buyers must submit their “best and final” offers. They only have one chance, so have to put their best offer forward, so getting you the highest price.

How can I maximise the sales price of my probate property?

Probate property is often in a poor state of repair with structural issues, but can also have significant development potential, so we’ve outlined the steps you can take, up front, to help ensure that you get the best price.

Buyers hate risk and always fear the worst. So, if there are any obvious structural issues such as subsidence, rising damp or Japanese Knotweed present at the property then it is vital to get them checked out by qualified professionals before marketing. That way, buyers can factor in what needs to be done, and at what cost, to solve the potential problem, before making an offer. This will help ensure that the sale doesn’t fall through further down the line, wasting you time and money.

On the flip-side, you often find that probate property has significant development potential, and we can help here too. We can introduce you do architects and planning consultants who can look at all the possibilities such as building an extension, converting into flats or even adding a separate dwelling in the garden.

In either event, our expertise is here to help you maximise the price for the beneficiaries.

Why consider selling by Auction?

Even if you have never seen one in the flesh, most people will be familiar with the idea of a room packed full of buyers with the auctioneer inviting increasing bids from the floor. The crucial point is that under English law, once the auctioneer’s gavel, or hammer, goes down a legal contract has been created between the buyer and the seller at the price bid. It is sold, with contracts exchanged.

So the great thing about auctions is certainty. Certainty for the seller as the buyer will pay a deposit, usually 10%, and the rest on completion, usually 28 days later. And certainty for the buyer, as if you are successful at auction, the property is yours. And with three out of ten conventional sales falling through nationally, this certainty is a big plus point.

For executors, there is another benefit, which is that you can demonstrate that you achieved the open market value for the property on behalf of the beneficiaries.

Why consider selling by Informal Tender?

This is often the best way to sell property that either needs modernisation, is in a poor state of repair or has potential to extend into the loft or to the side or rear.

It works by setting a deadline by which potential buyers must submit their formal written offers, along with all evidence that they are able to proceed (such as their mortgage in principle, bank statements, etc). With the deadline set, a couple of dates are chosen to hold Open Days and marketing can start.

Open Days are a great way of maximising interest in any property as by getting a large number of buyers looking around at the same time, it generates a sense of competition and helps get the best price.

When the deadline for final offers arrives, you can see exactly what each person has offered as well as having the assurance of knowing the strength of their financial position. Buyers feel obliged to put their best foot forward, and you have the luxury of choosing the highest offer from the buyer who is in the best position.

How do I sell probate property with structural issues?

Attempting to sell a house with major structural issues, the most serious of which is subsidence, may be impossible to insure or get a mortgage on. If you try to sell without a proper assessment of the problem, then you are going to really struggle to persuade a buyer to purchase the property. And you may find that it is not as serious as you first had thought.

That’s why if a house has signs of subsidence, such as serious cracks, then the first step is to get in a Structural Engineer to assess how serious the problem might be and to recommend a course of action for resolving it. Such a report can cost from a few hundred pounds but will enable you to get quotes for the necessary repairs, so that when you market the property, buyers know exactly where they stand.

If the property is insured for subsidence then you would be advised to make a call to the insurers, as you may be in a position to make a claim for the cost of any remedial works.

If the structural engineer’s report concludes that the property is mortgageable, you can then proceed to sell by conventional means, but if not, as mentioned previously, then selling by auction is worth considering.

How do I sell probate property with Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed was introduced into the UK in the late 19th Century as an ornamental plant for large formal gardens. Since then it has spread all over the country. The problem is that it has such powerful roots which can cause serious structural damage to buildings and there are strict legal controls over its management and disposal.

It isn’t the easiest plant to identify, but there are lots of good reference photos on Google, so with a bit of research, you should be able to spot whether you have a potential problem.

If you believe that knotweed is present on your property, the first step is to call in a properly qualified company to conduct a site survey and put in place an eradication and management plan. These plans can last up to five years and having one in place is vital for getting a mortgage or insurance, so without one, selling the property is going to be very problematic.

The good news is that with a proper plan in place, many buyers will be both willing and able to purchase the property. You may not get the full price, as some buyers will be put off no matter how organised you are, but properly handled you should get very close.

What makes Sefftons Assist different?

We only deal with probate property and the unique practical and emotional challenges that this brings, so we are experts in the field.

There are three things we do differently.

Firstly, we offer a unique property management service that can help make sure that the property is safe and secure and ready for marketing. This can include securing new locks, adding CCTV, drain-down of radiators in winter, house clearance, tidying up the garden or surveys for structural issues such as subsidence or Japanese Knotweed.

Secondly there’s our new property inspection service that makes sure that you meet all insurance requirements. As stated previously, you need specialist insurance for empty properties and they have strict criteria, one of which is regular visits. With our regular inspections you can relax in the knowledge that your insurance is correct and valid.

Finally, we offer a bespoke marketing service that recommends the most effective way to sell the property to achieve the best possible price, whether by auction, informal tender or private treaty. Our goal is to help you in any way that we can with everything to do with probate property.

For more information, why not call us on 01603 358222 to talk to one of our friendly advisors.