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Selling a San Antonio House in Probate

 

Selling your home quickly in San Antonio is a multi-step process under normal circumstances; for those who have received an inherited house either through a Will or through a trust, Texas probate laws Will come into effect (with a Will) or may come into effect (with a trust agreement, particularly if the person has a spouse or children), which can make selling a house more complicated. Our goal here is to identify the steps to selling a house in probate in San Antonio.

Before we outline this though, it should be clear what probate refers to; in law, probate courts are responsible for dealing with Wills (including distribution of assets, contesting the content, determining validity, and enforcement) as well as issues for people who are intestate (without a valid Will), as well as other duties. A house in probate refers to a house inherited through a Will or trust that is in the process of being enforced by the probate courts (assuming there are no complications involved in the enforcement of the Will). Without complications (such as contesting the Will or outstanding litigation), most probate procedures take about 9-18 months to clear.

Regardless of the length of time it takes to clear, a house on probate can still be sold if you take the following steps.

Apply for Probate and Determine Administrator

The first step that has to be done is an application to the court informing them of the death, the nature of the Will, and your desire to have it executed. This is important for two main reasons: the appointment of the administrator and the need to inform the public.

It is important to have an administrator who will take charge of the process; this is often indicated in the Will by the deceased as the “executor” and so long as no one contests the decision, the executor becomes the administrator. If the Will is intestate, does not indicate an executor, indicates an executor who is pre-deceased, or indicates an individual who does not wish to fulfill the appointment, the courts will select another person, usually an heir or someone proposed by agreement of the heir(s). The administrator must prove they are not disqualified, incapacitated, or unqualified to serve in this role; in San Antonio (Bexar County), this is usually done via a written affidavit.

As per Texas Law, when a probate application is submitted, a notice must be posted by the Sheriff or Constable informing the public that a probate application has been submitted and when the application will be heard in court; this gives interested parties the opportunity to go to the Clerk’s Office and examine the Will in the event they wish to contest it. So long as the administrator is approved and no responses/motions are filed against the Will, the administrator can begin the necessary steps to sell the house.

Property Appraisal

The first step that the administrator needs to do is arrange for a property appraisal; regardless of the time when the last one was done, a new property appraisal must be done by an independent certified appraiser, and a notarized copy of this will be presented to the court along with the petition (see below). We will be happy to recommend appraisers for you if necessary.

Depending on the condition of the house, you may wish to hire an inspector as well to note potential issues and recommend repairs, though you can opt to sell the house “as is” at a lower price (depending on the nature of repairs and improvements to be done). An inspection that reveals little to no issues can improve retail value of the house, so this might be a good idea to get, even if the house looks like it is in great shape.

It is also important to remove all items from the home, and after family members and friends have taken what they want or what is indicated as theirs in the Will, an estate sale may be in order. The benefit of this is to raise capital that may cover fees from taxes, attorneys, notaries, realtors, or accountant. The monies from an estate sale can be put aside until later.

Petition the Court

 

In most US States, the laws do not permit the selling of a house in probate; however, Texas laws are different. To sell a house requires a petition to be made to the probate court which must include a copy of the appraisal, method of sale and any and all other pertinent details related to the property sale in San Antonio. Once submitted to the courts for approval, you will have to wait; usual processing times for the petition are 30-45 days, after which, if you get approval, you can proceed to the next step. It should be noted that selling the house without a petition will invalidate the sale.

Once the court recognizes your petition, you may market the house; however, if there is a lien on the house, the lien must be paid before sale of the house can commence.

Market the House

 

With the petition approved, the administrator can now place the house on the market, but needs to ensure that investors/buyers know this a probate house! Some buyers might be leery about purchasing a probate house or may seek copies of relevant documents to ensure you’ve followed procedure properly.

The house should be marketed publicly (e.g. advertised in local newspapers) to allow for maximum bidding; even if there is an offer on the house that is accepted, interested buyers can attend the hearing (see below) and offer more if they wish (minimum bid is 10% above current sale price).

Acquire Court Confirmation

 

If you have an offer on your home, you must still obtain confirmation from the court to sell it in San Antonio; hearings will usually take place 20-40 days after the submission of the request, and any and all heirs will be provided the details of the sale. It is advisable for you as the administrator to attend the court hearings as real estate investors and buyers will often come to bid on probate house for sale. If there are no other bids, the sale can proceed as normal; if another buyer offers more, then a deposit will be provided after the court confirms and refund any deposit given by the previous bidder.

It is important to keep in mind that a house with a mortgage will still have a mortgage on it when it is inherited, and unless the deceased has insurance that pays off the entirety of the mortgage, the inheritor(s) will be saddled with this obligation; in most cases, the mortgage is paid off from the proceeds of the house itself.

It is also important to consider the financial implications of the sale; by Texas law, a house in probate that is sold will incur taxation penalties based on the value of the house at time of the previous owner’s death and the total amount of the sale, with the beneficiary paying capital gains tax on the difference.

If you have any questions or would like us to buy your house in San Antonio, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to answer any inquiries you might have.