Keeping your mind open to all possible avenues of profit is what is preached over and over to investors. An option some people shy away from is buying from an Estate because most people envision a sobbing widow or an adult child signing contracts in the middle of their loved ones living room who has recently passed away. This type of transaction is really not that morbid. By the time the Estate is settled and it is time to sell the family home, it is all very normal. In fact most of the time the family does not want the home or most of its belongings. I worked with an investor who would frequently find treasures (worth quite a bit of money) left behind in his Estate properties. Unlike the distressed homes in the short sale and pre-foreclosure market, Estate properties are typically free of liens and have a large profit margin.
There is often confusion about who is allowed to sign on behalf of the Estate and what documentation will be required by the Title Company. To clarify, the person who signs the closing documents for the Estate property is known as the “Personal Representative of the Estate”. This person may or may not be related to the decedent. Your owner of record may be Tom & Susan Jones, Husband and Wife as Community Property with Rights of Survivorship. Your personal Representative of the Estate will need to supply both Tom & Susan’s death certificates as well as the personal representative papers dated or certified within 30 days of the close of escrow. So let’s back track and assume this scenario. Tom passed away in 1989 leaving Susan, his widow, the property by Right of Survivorship. Susan then passes away in 2010 which would leave the property to the Estate. Tom & Susan had three children; one was too lazy, one was too immature and one was just right to handle the Estate and was named the Personal Representative. This also means you will be dealing with the most responsible person in the family when closing your estate transaction. This is good news because if you are dealing with a distressed home seller, you may be dealing with an unreasonable or emotional person.
Now when you sit down with your seller he/she may or may not have their papers in order but at least you know what to ask for – death Certificates and Personal Representative paperwork. If you run across a client who has no papers it does not always mean you do not have a deal, it just means you will have a lot more work before you can close. The seller should consult an Estate Attorney to get the Personal Representative papers and who can also get the death certificates from the county in which the client passed away in. This all takes time and money. If a client has their Personal Representative papers but they are “expired” or more than 30 days from the date of the closing the Rep will need to have their Attorney (or they can themselves) contact the Superior Court of Arizona to have the papers certified. The contract will need to indicate that the seller is “the Estate of Susan Jones” and the Personal Representative is merely the signer much like the managing member of a Limited Liability Company. How can you attract the Estate properties? Call Chicago Title to talk about some ideas to target specific areas. Remember to keep your mind open to all the opportunity we have available in Arizona!
Remember, Chicago Title is here to help with anything you need and just a phone call away!