Mortgages & Creative Financing

Why Probate Properties Could Be The Best Deals In Real Estate

Expertise: Flipping Houses, Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Mortgages & Creative Financing
105 Articles Written
Why Probate Properties Could Be The Best Deals On Real Estate

If you want to be a successful house flipper, you need to find good properties to purchase. It’s just that simple.

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If you look hard enough and network enough, you might find these houses below market value through some unconventional means.

For instance, you can purchase a house through a short sale.

You can also find them from wholesalers as well.

Alternatively, you can buy the house at a foreclosure auction if it has already been foreclosed…although those are a little tough to find these days.

You can also purchase it as REO property if it hasn’t received any bids or you might just score a great deal if the homeowners are going through a divorce and want to get rid of the property as fast as possible.

There is, however, another way that you can search and find property that is way below market value that many real estate investors do not know a whole lot about: purchasing probate properties.

What Exactly Is Probate Property?

Probate property is property owned by a deceased person. Two things happen when the owner of a house dies:

1. There’s No Heir or Will

Properties of people who die without leaving a will or an heir to their house usually go to a probate court to be sold. In this case, the state is in charge of selling the property. They might try to sell it for the highest price possible but it will still be below market value. This is a great place for flippers to find valuable property at a cheap price.

2. It Is Handed Down To The Heirs Of The Deceased

If this is the case, you might still have a chance at purchasing the property. Sometimes, the heirs might feel that the deceased relative’s property is a burden because they already have their own home. If this is the case, the heirs might want to sell the property as fast as possible to avoid profit through maintenance, taxes, insurance and other costs.

How To Find Probate Property

It’s almost impossible to know whether a house is probate property or not when you look at real estate listings so you have to do a little more research. One place you can find probate properties is by going through obituaries in your local newspaper.

Related: Probate Marketing 101: How To Dominate In One Of The Best Niches In Real Estate

Alternatively, you can visit the deceased person’s area and go through court records to find out if they owned any property. You can also look for an office in your local area that deals with testaments and last will. Wills are public documents and are easily accessible so you can use this advantage to find deceased persons who had properties to their names.

If you have some money to spend, you can buy information from private companies regarding available probate property. if none of these methods works, you can always turn to a real estate broker to help you out. They are quite knowledgeable and have access to plenty of information.

Cons Of Probate Property

It’s true that probate property can be bought cheaply and thee are resources that you can use to find it.

Related: Working with Probates: Overcoming the Challenges

Unfortunately, like every other part of real estate investing, probate comes with certain disadvantages as well.

If you are planning on purchasing the property through a probate court, you might have to wait several months. This is because probate court processes last for several months. If the deceased person did not leave a will, the process could take even longer; years even. So if you are hoping to purchase property fast, probate property might not be for you.

But, if you have the patience and think the property is worth the wait, you can wait it out. But as you wait it out, make sure you have other “irons in the fire”.

The good news is that you can hasten the process by telling the court that you can close the sale quickly. All you have to do is provide proof of funds and offer a cash purchase to get the attention of the personal representative and the probate court. When you make an offer, you oftentimes have to pay 10% deposit.

Find out as much as you can about the property before you decide that you truly want it. One of the things that you should find out is if the house has any debt attached to it. The last thing you want is to wait an entire year only to find out that the house has an existing mortgage which you will have to pay off.

But you can still purchase the property if you think the house will still make a profit. Fortunately, 67% of homes in probate court do not have debt attached to them making them an ideal purchase for a house flipper who has access to private money and can close fast.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and tell me what kind of results you’ve had with probate properties!

Michael LaCava is a full time real estate investor, house flipping coach and the President of Hold Em Realty located in Wareham, MA. He runs the website House Flipping School to teach new real estate investors how to flip houses and is the author of "How to Flip a House in 5 Simple Steps".
    George Sarianos
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Hi Michael, Thanks for the article. Although I agree that probate houses could be profitable, if seems like to many people know that in my area (Philadelphia). I market to these leads and almost 95% of the time, the executor is more than willing to meet me at the house because he’s got 3 other investors coming to the property already! Competition = No Deal (at least in my opinion). It probably works in areas where there aren’t any companies creating mailing lists of probate files that everyone and there mother is marketing to (I.e. a more difficult mailing list to obtain). This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop marketing to this segment of the market, it just means I have to work harder for those leads. I’d love to read a blog from you about how to get the best/wholesale pricing from a general contractor.
    Replied over 6 years ago
    This is true George and this is why you must have multiple strategies to attract deals. When you measure your marketing results and find what is working multiply that strategy to attract more deals.
    Lin Van
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Our involvement in buying Probate Properties. Be prepared to be very PATIENT. When we found info on the heirs to the property, we wrote a letter of Intent to purchase. Probate took over a year. The house was vacant the entire time. They notified us, and the assessed value at DOD. We went to escrow, they got the check, and we got the house. We took it as is…because we knew the property since it was next door. Good things come to those who wait.
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Yes that is true Lin. We have done the same and they are just deals in the pipeline and when they come they come. Too many want instant results but like you said patience gets the deals in probate.
    Sharon Vornholt
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Michael – Nice post. I love probates. There is competition in every niche, but I never meet a seller when they have other people coming at a specified time like George mentioned. I just won’t do it and I tell the seller that. I want my time to make a personal connection with every seller. You can’t be memorable in a crowd. A whole lot of the people won’t sell the property until around the 1 year mark. You just need to hang in there, keep mailing and be the “last man standing”. Sharon
    Replied over 6 years ago
    I love it “the last man standing” great point Sharon
    Saddat Abid
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Hi Mike, Great post about probate properties in US. In the UK, probate properties hardly hit the market. They are often snapped by private direct to vendor buyers or estate agents find sellers privately before they are advertised on websites. What tips would you give to finding direct to vendor probate properties?
    Ron Johnson
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hello Mike, As a person who has delt with probate properties I have to sat to me it is the best opportunity to by real estate at a decent price BUT and I put that in caps for a reason, I hate having to mtalk to people who just lost a loved one. To me that’s the toughest part. Great article by the way, 🙂 Ron
    Thomas Manning Real Estate Agent from Bonita Springs, Florida
    Replied over 4 years ago
    That is a tough part talking to them however think of it as a Win-Win by offering them cash for the property to take it out of there hands so they do not have to deal with it, if they do not want to. It is all about finding their motivation if there is any to let go of the property. If there is motivation then it is a no brainer giving them cash in return for the property, and if there is no motivation to let go of the property then walk away it may be a waste of your time.
    Account Closed Real Estate Agent from Hermosa Beach, California
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hi Mike, You should also mention that investors should make relationships with probate realtors, like myself. I have several investors I call first when I have a new probate listing. The thing about probate is that I work for several attorneys and they tell me about the properties and ask me to give them the valuation, so they can give it to the probate referee. So, I usually know of these probate properties a month or two before I put them on the market. During that time I tell my investors about it and when I do put it on the MLS, I usually sell it the first day. Find realtors that have done several probates and make friends with them. That’s the best way to find out about probates before the public does. I’m in Los Angeles and it may be different other areas, but that’s how it works here. Good luck. Brian Byhower
    Ceasar Blackman Real Estate Agent from Orlando, Florida
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Simple question how soon after appearing in the obrtualties should the probate paper work start showing up?
    Harry Myers
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Love your info on Probate and crowd funding!
    Shannon Arendt
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I am looking into purchasing probate properties. My initial contact was going to be a letter. I was wondering if you have a template that you use or have recommendations as to what information to include in this introductory letter.
    Inna Kashtan
    Replied 11 months ago
    Hi Shannon, Have you ever discovered a great template that you use for this type of introductory letter? Would love to hear your feedback? Thank you, Inna
    Cristina Ortega Wholesaler from Redondo Beach, California
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Would love to hear you input about cold calling probate leads and the time line that you recommend they be called after probate has been filed? I would also love to hear some out of the box ways that other investors have gone about actually getting th probate leads- I know this can get a little confusing because it’s a different process from county to county.. would love any help! Thanks
    Tomer Maymon
    Replied 9 months ago
    Mike, thanks for a great article (saved with a pin at my google keep √) A small word correction seems to be needed at the top of the article: replace "profit" with "expenses" or similar word: Currently: "is the case, the heirs might want to sell the property as fast as possible to avoid *profit* through maintenance, taxes, insurance and other costs." Suggested: "is the case, the heirs might want to sell the property as fast as possible to avoid *expenses* through maintenance, taxes, insurance and other costs."