8 June 2023

Buying a probate property

By Nic Sheldrake, Property Director, Hayes + Storr.

A probate property is a property that belongs to someone who has died. The property is vested in the estate of the deceased owner and is generally being sold to meet the terms of the late owner’s will.

It is important to make a will detailing what happens to your property and assets, as this makes dealing with those matters simpler, less stressful, and cheaper for those left behind to deal with.

Buying a probate property can be a good idea as they can represent a bargain. Executors and beneficiaries can be keen, for a number of reasons, to get the property sold. They are often willing to take a reduced offer on the basis that the transaction can be dealt with quickly and the estate finalised without delay. However, there is a downside from a conveyancing point of view.

When negotiating with the estate agent, be sure to ask whether the Grant of Probate has been received. The Grant of Probate gives the executors the power to complete a sale. The property can be marketed without the grant, but a sale cannot be completed. An application for a Grant of Probate can take months to receive, so be prepared for a long wait if the application has not yet been made.

In the normal course of events, a seller will provide information about the property by way of the Law Society’s protocol forms. These include a Sellers Property Information Form, which provides a great deal of information about, not only the property itself, but the owners experiences at the property. For example, work that may have been carried out, problems the owners have had with neighbours, whether the property has been flooded, whether there have ever been any insurance issues etc.

All these matters may affect a buyer’s decision to proceed and importantly, a lender’s willingness to lend. As the owner of a probate property is not in a position to complete the form or answer related questions, it will be for the executor of the estate to provide answers to the best of their knowledge and very often the answer is “not known”. We can overcome this but limiting the questions to those an executor should know – that will satisfy a lender’s requirements. As a buyer, you should put as many practical questions to the estate agents as you can.

So, is a probate property a good buy? It can be if you proceed with your eyes open. Questions to the estate agents, enquiries and proper searches via the solicitors and a survey will help to ensure that the property is the bargain you believe it to be.

How we can help

Our solicitors are experienced in probate property sales and purchases and we understand the necessary processes involved for a successful transaction.

For further information, please contact Nic Sheldrake in the residential property team on: 01328 863231 or email nic.sheldrake@hayes-storr.com.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.