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At 192 Nueva Avenue, I found the usual probate home landmines and more.  The property, tucked in near the Bayshore Freeway in SF’s Little Hollywood neighborhood, offered these challenges:

  • Tenants – including a protected renter in the downstairs unwarranted unit
  • Liens – hundreds of thousands owed against the home
  • Poor condition – typical probate home deficiencies
  • Lack of funds – no cash for repairs or upgrades
  • Failure to sell – 1 ½ years on the market with other agents

Because the estate had conflicts with a tenant, a landlord-tenant attorney I’d often worked with recommended me to the estate’s attorney, Brent Kato of Kato, Feder & Suzuki.

It’s complicated, let’s not make it harder
In this and our many trust and probate home sales, we take these often-overlooked steps

  • Be considerate of the tenants
  • Complete all inspections before the property goes on the market
  • Photograph the condition of the home

When I first evaluated this house, I documented it extensively with photos. It’s my best opportunity to be the eyes and ears for the attorney, the bank and the estate.

From my background in construction, I know what to look for and what I’m looking at.

Full disclosure on day 1
For six months the estate’s personal representative resisted my recommendation to get inspections done in advance of the sale.

I simply couldn’t put the home on the market till he agreed to inspections and full disclosure. Otherwise, we’d end up in contract, held hostage by new complications and contingencies.

Another reason for up-front inspections–is there ever a good surprise for a homebuyer? If you inspect after an offer, revelations about the property’s condition trigger a request for discounts.

Always, but especially on an as-is sale, it’s wise to disclose everything at the start.

Window bars a barrier to financing
The appraiser noted the home’s window bars, raising a red flag to the bank.

Although bars are allowed on common area windows, they’re not safe for bedrooms.

Luckily I had my photos. It still took 35 emails, plus shots of the home, for the bank to understand the bars were installed only on the garage windows, not the bedrooms.

Court confirmation required
With four offers in hand, Brent Kato and I met at the courthouse to go before the judge. I’m very comfortable with this step, having done it many times for attorneys and their clients.

We made a case for how we marketed the home and the offer we intended to accept.

Meanwhile, the protected tenant petitioned the court to buy the property.

Based on our presentation of competing offers and why the tenant’s proposal was unworkable, the judge denied the petition and confirmed the sale. The property sold for $38,000 over asking.

Probate sales don’t have to be slow and painful. Get in touch if you need an experienced hand.