Probate Sales: Knowing the Perks & Risks

If you are an active real estate buyer, or even just a curious browser, you have undoubtedly encountered a probate sale. While a probate sale generally means that the cost of the property is lower it can also mean a trickier and longer process than a normal sale. As such, it is necessary to familiarize one’s self with the system and to know what to expect.

Gavel and Small Model House on Wooden Table.

Overview of  Probate Sales:

A probate sale is used when a homeowner dies without leaving a will or without directly bequeathing the property to someone. Essentially, the state takes over and oversees the sale of the home.

While probate sales generally mean lower prices, it is important to note that there is a minimum value that must be met: the property must sell for at least 90% of its appraised value. Further, the court ensures that the home has been properly listed, marketed and appraised to guarantee that it is sold at a fair market price.

When it comes to making an offer, a 10% percent deposit is generally required. (This is due to the Court requirement of 10% at the confirmation hearing.) Similar to a normal sale, the representative of the estate will then review the offer and accept or counter it.

However, unlike a normal sale, acceptance does not mean the immediate opening of escrow. The offer is still subject to the court’s confirmation and it’s acceptance does not fully commit the seller to the buyer. It is not until after all contingencies are removed that the court may be petitioned to confirm the sale.

After confirmation from the court, the attorney must post a Notice of Sale -an ad stating their intention to sell the home and calling for anyone who thinks they are a beneficiary to come forward. In California, the law requires that a Notice of Sale is published in a newspaper from the same county as the property. The ad must run three times at least 10 days before the sale. 

After the notice has been run and no beneficiary has turned up, a court date is requested. The court date could be set immediately or several months out…Then starts the waiting game.

During this waiting period, notice of the sale as the date and location of the hearing must be marketed.


When the court date arrives, the listing agent, plus any other interested party, is required to attend. At the court proceeding the property is subject to an overbid scenario wherein another buyer can come in and purchase the property contingency free on the spot. According to California real estate law, the minimum overbid amount must be 10% over the price that was accepted initially. Anyone wishing to bid, is required to bring a cashier’s check, made out to the Estate, for this amount.

If there are no bidders, the original contract is confirmed and the buyer gets the property for their original contract price.

As you can see, probate sales are not a cut and dry deal. They can turn into long drawn out affairs that can result in you spending a lot of time and resources just to have your offer outbid at the court hearing (worst case scenario!). However, working with an experienced and knowledge agent can help increase your chances of securing a home at a lower price (best case scenario!)

A probate sale can be a savvy way to secure an investment property or even a new family home. Just be prepared to patient and make sure that you have housing arrangements in the meantime!

Note: One of the main risks when it comes to probate sales is the limited disclosures requirement. In most cases the owner is deceased (it is also possible that he or she is incapacitated) and the court-appointed representative has never lived in the home, meaning that there may limited insight into the condition of the home and it’s systems. Therefore, it is essential that the buyer fully investigates the property and has the home inspected. It is also a good idea to check the public record.

*As a homeowner, make sure that you have a will clearly naming your beneficiaries to avoid the stress of you home entering the probate sale process*


Rent-Back Agreements and How They Work

One qualm that often holds homeowners back from selling their current property and moving into their dream home is that they will sell their home before securing a new one. Considering Southern California’s hot real estate market and how quickly homes are being sold, we recognize that this is a valid concern.  Buying a home is a huge decision.. and not one that anyone wants to make under the pressure of becoming homeless!


However, several options exist to help ensure a smooth transition period  for both buyers and sellers. One alternative that we have found to be mutually beneficial for both parties is the rent-back agreement – this essentially allows the sellers extended time in the home by making them the new owner’s tenants after escrow closes. While this agreement comes with a time limit designated by the buyer, it gives the seller extra time to get things squared away with their new home. It also eliminates the need to deal with storing their belongings or finding an interim place to live! For the seller, this is a more secure option then simply extending escrow as it removes the risk that the escrow will not close and it also gives him/her access to the money from the sale.


The rent-back agreement is advantageous to the buyer for two main reasons:

  1. If there are several competitive offers on the home, it may make the buyer’s offer stand out and help ensure it’s acceptance.
  2. The rent charged to the seller may help to recover closing costs – or at least lower the overall cost of the move.

Note: While it is technically up to the buyer to determine how much the cost of rent should be, it is typically the equivalent of the buyers’ principal, interest, taxes and insurance on a prorated basis. Thus, the seller will essentially be paying the buyer’s mortgage for the amount of time they will be occupying the home.

It is important to note that rent-back agreements are legally binding agreements made in writing so it is essential to maintain clear communication concerning your needs (whether you are the buyer or the seller!). Be sure to agree on the exact date that the seller is expected to move out, as well as the amount of rent the seller will pay.


Overall, the rent-back agreement offers the seller some breathing room and peace of mind when it comes to finding a replacement home, but also proves beneficial for the seller. As long as the kinks are worked out and both parties are willing to participate, this option is an ideal solution for those who are looking to relocate into their dream home!





Congratulations Jill and Hiro!


What a huge honor it is to help family with their Real Estate needs. When Jill, Lauren’s cousin, and Hiro, Jill’s fiance, first approached us to help with their home search we were a bit taken back knowing that Hiro is a practicing commercial agent. However, the world of commercial Real Estate in many ways is quite different from residential Real Estate. It was quite interesting to see the differences in the standard protocols, timelines, and negotiations. When it came to terminology and some of the contractual portions of the process Hiro, of course, was well versed which made for easy communication.   Jill, being a previous home owner was also no rookie to this process. She stayed hands on and insightful throughout the entire process, asking great questions and paying close attention to detail. Together they were the ideal client!

We are so grateful to have been a part of this journey with both Jill and Hiro. It was very impressive to see their work ethics, sometimes things you don’t get to see in family environments. We always knew they are hard working and very intelligent people, but this experience has magnified how talented they both are and we now have a better understanding of why they both excel in their careers. To no surprise, the biggest inspiration that we will take away from this experience is from witnessing how well they work together as a team. It is so heartwarming to see how much joy they get from knowing the other is happy. They were always respecting the other’s opinion and checking in to make sure they were making decisions together that benefited the other’s happiness over themselves. What a selfless relationship and a true testament to their love for each other. With a wedding on the way, we know that this couple will go on to build an amazing life together in their new beautiful home.

To Jill and Hiro, thank you very much for this opportunity to represent you. Congratulations on a well deserved achievement and best wishes for many more success together. We love you!

Neighborhood Spotlight: Allison Gander

Staying inspired throughout the grit and grind of daily life is not always easy! Our meetings with our monthly Neighborhood Spotlights have become something that we genuinely look forward to …and always come away from feeling refreshed. We love getting insight into other entrepreneurs’ lives and seeing how they shape their careers around their passions.

This month we interviewed Allison Gander, owner and principal of AGA Design – an architectural consulting firm. Always sketching as a child, Allison recognized early on that with her drawing abilities and aptitude for geometry a career as an architect would be the perfect fit!

AG shot

With over 12 years of experience in the profession to-date, Allison prepared for her career not just with a Bachelor’s of Science in architecture, but also with a year at Ecole d’Architecutre de Paris-La Villette and a Master’s of Architecture from Georgia Tech. Lucky for us, Allison relocated from Georgia to Los Angeles where she promptly began working as a Project Architect consultant for Levin & Associates. (If you have ever been to the Dodger Stadium or the John Anson Ford Ampitheatre – you have likely marveled at some of her work!)

Allison’s next step brought her to creating AGA Designs. Opening her own firm allowed Allison the flexibility to express her passion through projects of her own choosing. She loves taking a hands-on approach and taking the time to be involved in the developmental stage of a project. From helping entrepreneurs looking to develop their first commercial space to designing a custom piece of furniture for homeowners, AGA Design is a full-service architecture firm and Allison stays fully involved from start to finish. Allison is community oriented and loves sourcing clients from right here in the South Bay!

GCM Persp.jpg
Sketch Perspective Design

Professionally, Allison is detail-oriented, focused and committed to quality work. Personally, she is genuine, warm and brimming with passion. Her big heart is as obvious as her talent and she is a true pleasure to be around. She shared her love story with us (Grand Canyon Proposal!) and we came away from our coffee date feeling as if we had just made a new friend. Read on to hear more about Allison and AGA Design!

Casa Full Downstairs
Interior Design by AGA Designs
  1. What inspired you to be an architect?                                                                                             I’ve always loved to draw and sketch.  Eventually I headed in the architecture direction because I could use those talents and couple them with my geometric brain and curiosity and find out how things should be put together.
  2. Give us a brief run-down of the services/experience that you offer?                                AGA Design is a full service architecture firm, doing everything from initial design consultation to construction administration.  We also consult with other professionals to assist on some other large projects.
  3. Do you have a personal favorite architectural style?                                                     I studied pure modernism heavily in school- and will always have an affinity for less is more and pure material design.
  4. How has living in the South Bay helped aid the growth of your business or inspired you in your business?                                                                                                                            I have met most of my clients in the south bay.  My children are in the schools and extra curricular programs here and it’s been a blessing to be in such a great family community, with such great people who can appreciate good design.
  5. What is your ideal client?                                                                                                             I love working with entrepreneurs who are making the move to expand and have a set vision of what they would like their space to be.  Equally, those homeowners who have a new idea for use of space in their existing home and get creative with space with me are fun to work with.
  6. What is your favorite part of doing your job?                                                                           Meeting with clients, sketching out their ideas while assisting in some fundamental design approaches is my favorite part.  I bring along my roll of trace paper to every meeting because you have to document those brainstorming sessions.
  7. What is your favorite project you worked on and why?                                                           The most exciting project I’ve done has been in collaboration with Levin & Associates, the Dodger Stadium Improvements since 2012.  The timeline was so tight but the team made 7 buildings happen, design through construction in 6 months.  It was invigorating standing in front of them on Opening Day.
  8. What in your opinion makes Golden Hills/Redondo Beach a great place to live?         The quality of families, the access to activities for all the family to enjoy, the walkability to the beach are great reasons to be in the Golden Hills.
Casa Desk from Sitting Side
Custom Desk Design

Can’t get enough of Allison? (Us either!) Check out AGA Design online at


Follow AGA Design on Facebook and Instagram: @agadesignla

**Allison & AGA Design are happy to offer a free design consultation for all residents of Golden Hills / Redondo Beach**