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Often, in a probate case, the Decedent’s residence has to be sold. If the mortgage on the property is large compared to the value of the house and if it takes a long time to sell the house, the monthly mortgage payments (or charges against the sale if the mortgage isn’t paid), property taxes, utility bills, HOA fees etc. can eat up a large part of the estate.
Most Executors or Administrators (usually a relative of the Decedent who had the duty to sell estate assets) hire a realtor to sell the house or condo. Typically, when real estate is listed, 3% of the sale goes to the listing agent and 3% to the selling agent.
A huge number of people in any city are licensed realtors. It is not that hard to get a realtor’s license. Of this huge number only a minority are successfully earning a full-time living as real estate agents. Some of the licensed realtors may be retired or may earn most of their income in another job and some may be trying to work full time as a realtor but failing at it.
When a client hires me to do a probate involving the sale of real estate I ask if the client has a realtor or would like a recommendation. Sometimes I get an answer like, “I have an aunt who is a realtor and my family will dump on me if I don’t hire her.” If the aunt is a successful full time realtor that works out well. But if the aunt simply has a realtor’s license and spends her time doing something else, this means that the aunt will simply put the property on the multi-list and hope to collect her 3% commission when someone else sells the property. When the real estate market is red hot, this may work fine. When the real estate market is not red hot, the successful full-time realtors will naturally steer their prospective buyers to the properties they have listed so they can make 6% on the sale rather than 3%.
In addition, the successful realtor who closes on several properties each month has experience with all sort of problems that may arise at closing and is more likely to be able to save a troubled closing that the realtor whose closes on one or two properties a year.
Finally, a successful experienced realtor has a network of competent trade and service people who can be hired at a reasonable price to do any necessary work to make the property more attractive to potential buyers or who can fix any problems that crop up when the buyer hires a home inspector to inspect the house for defects prior to closing. For example, an out of state executor hiring a realtor can expect the realtor to hire people to remove trash from the house, fix-it up, and fix any problems showing up during an inspection. A realtor who is not a full-time realtor won’t have a list of reliable and cost-effective people to do these jobs.
We don’t get any referral fees or money from realtors we refer you to, nor do we pressure you into using a realtor we refer you to. However, we do work with realtors who do are successful full time realtors and we find that the probate process goes faster when an experienced realtor is in charge of selling real estate.