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2725 Heatherstone Drive, San Rafael


When the trust attorney came to me, the Marinwood neighborhood house had been vacant and untouched for two years. The property, in the coveted Dixie school district, belonged to the same family for 60 years but hadn’t been maintained.


Here are some of the problems we encountered:

  • water to the house had been shut off since it was vacated
  • extensive and current water leaks through the roof, from top to bottom floor
  • crawl space under the house was filled with water
  • deteriorating wood members

There was no money for repairs, so I focused on an as-is sale, putting together all the necessary documentation to protect both the buyer and the seller: appraisal, disclosures and estimates for the repairs.

Making the house appraisable
When the appraiser saw that the water was shut off in the house he couldn’t appraise it. And the old galvanized pipes simply wouldn’t hold up to repairs. At my expense, I brought in a plumber who stopped the leaks long enough to turn the water back on for appraisal. Immediately after, we shut the water off again.

As so often happens in these situations, a neighbor was trying to do a side deal and had presented an offer that the estate attorney had to maneuver around. The co-trustees, brothers who disagreed on most everything, had a difference of opinion on whether to sell to the neighbor.

Competing opinions, same interests
Co-trustee Roy Whalin says, “I have learned that having co-trustees is not a good arrangement. My brother and his lawyer had their ideas. My lawyer and I had our ideas. They were not always the same. So Craig had to resolve the competing interests of my brother and I, our lawyers, the buyers and their realtor, the lender, the county and the title insurance company. It was not easy.”

True, the situation did require some diplomacy and creative problem solving. And I suggested, since the market was hot, that we get moving and price the home to sell. That way we could bring the largest number of potential buyers through the door.

More than full disclosure
I also recommended that we disclose everything. The package we presented to buyers included three appraisals and two contractor estimates for completely revamping the house, at a cost of $150,000 to $180,000.

We set a bid date and the brothers received multiple offers. The home sold within two months, no court confirmation was required at that price.

The family got the sale price they needed — $100,000 more than the neighbor had wanted to pay.

“A good portion of this happened over the Christmas holidays,” says Roy. “Not many Realtors could have done this. Craig completed the process with professionalism, competence and courtesy. I feel fortunate that we found him.”

Facing a complex trust property sale? Let me smooth the way…