Buying a Probate Property: What Buyers Need to Know

Picture this: After a long and exhausting property search you finally find the home that’s just right for you. But then the estate agent mentions that it’s a ‘probate property’ and you’re left scratching your head.

While it’s a term that you’ve heard before, you’re not entirely sure what it means and if it could scupper your homebuying plans.

Well, let us explain.

What is probate?

When a person dies, the assets that they owned in their sole name can’t immediately be sold off or distributed. It’s a case of waiting until the government has granted ‘probate’.

Usually, it’s the executors of the will that apply for probate (if there’s no will there’s a slightly different procedure).

Once probate has been granted (and inheritance tax and debts have been paid) the executors can distribute assets according to the deceased’s wishes.

What does it mean for a buyer?

It’s common for executors to market a property before probate is granted. So if you find yourself viewing a property where probate is pending, it’s all above board.

The executors are acting in the expectation that by the time both parties are ready to exchange contracts, probate will have come through.

You can’t complete a property transaction until probate has been granted, but you can get much of the paperwork sorted in the meantime.

You might have to be patient

There’s quite a lot of paperwork to be done, and documentation to find, before the executor can file for probate. And once the actual application has been lodged, it can take between six to 12 weeks to be granted (it’s tricky to be precise because there have been processing delays recently).

Ask the right questions

To get a realistic idea of timescale, it’s useful to find out how advanced the executors are in the process (discuss this with the estate agent). If the application has been lodged, then there’s a good chance things are ticking along nicely. If the application hasn’t gone in, you may be in for a longer wait.

Be sensitive

If by some chance a relative of the deceased is present when you view the property, be sensitive. It may be that you’re viewing their childhood home or a property that has a lot of emotional significance to them. If you have questions, direct them to the estate agent.

Benefits of probate properties

Renovation opportunity

If you’re looking for a doer-upper, a probate property might suit your needs. It may have been some time since any renovation work was carried out so you can put your own stamp on the home.

No onward chain

You’ve obviously heard about people getting caught up in complicated chains because they’re buying off someone who is buying off someone else and so on. With a probate property there is no onward chain so you might have more flexibility regarding matters like completion dates.

If you’re looking to buy a new home, contact us here at Chamberlains today.


You can easily share this article...

more about the author

Book an appointment now to find out how much your home could be worth...

Book your free property valuation

Thinking of selling or letting out a property? Fill in your details and one of our friendly team will contact you to confirm your booking. It’s free, and there is no obligation – We’ll talk to you about the current market, and how you can maximise the value of your property.