If you are a buyer, should you entertain putting an offer on a probate sale property?

Should you put an offer on a probate sale property?

Well, the first thing a buyer needs to understand about a “probate sale” of real property is that it is an estate administration which provides for the orderly distribution of real property owned by a decedent. More specifically, any property which the decedent owned or in which the decedent had an interest at the time of death is collected into the estate and distributed to those entitled to it after all debts and expenses have been paid. The process of administering a decedent‘s estate is referred to as “probate,” and is generally supervised by the probate court. A personal representative is the person or entity charged with the responsibility of administering a decedent’s estate (Cal. Prob. Code § 58(a)). A personal representative is either:

  • An executor (executrix) who is named in a will; or
  • An administrator (administratrix) who is appointed by the court when there is no will, when the will does not name an executor or when the named executor is unable or unwilling to serve.

The personal representative is charged with the fiduciary responsibility of gathering the assets and paying the debts of the decedent in such a way that the beneficiaries or heirs of the decedent receive the maximum inheritance. The personal representative usually will hire an estate attorney to handle the legal aspects of the probate. Most business dealings are through the estate attorney.

Estate property may be sold by the personal representative when:

  • The sale is necessary to pay debts, devises (gifts to persons named in the will), a family allowance, expenses of estate administration, or taxes;
  • The sale is to the advantage of the estate and in the best interests of the interested persons;
  • The property must be sold according to the terms of the will; or
  • Authority is given in the will to sell the property.

(Cal. Prob. Code § 10000.)A decedent’s will may designate the manner in which estate real property is to be sold or identify the particular property to be sold. Absent a court order based upon the best interests of the interested parties to the contrary, the personal representative shall comply with the decedent’s instructions. If the will is silent on these matters or there is no will, the personal representative may select the method of sale and the particular property to be sold. Estate real property may be sold by private sale, public auction, or a different method specified in the will of the decedent (Cal. Prob. Code §§ 10000.3, 10303). A private sale is one in which bids or offers are independently solicited, while a sale by public auction invites concurrent competitive bidding.

Buyer should understand the restrictions involved in a probate sale of real property.  The sales price of a private sale of estate real property subject to court confirmation must be at least 90 percent of its appraised value set within one year prior to the sale (Cal. Prob. Code § 10309).  All terms of a sale, including the minimum required deposit, are generally subject to court approval and local rules of court which vary from county to county. Generally, offers with contingencies of any sort (e.g., financing, sale of home) are not approved by the court.  This is just as good as saying your offer should be in all cash!  However, Sales of real property by the personal representative with full authority under the IAEA DO NOT HAVE THE SAME RESTRICTIONS and may contain all of the same contingencies and provisions as non-probate sales of real property (Cal. Prob. Code § 10503).

In summary, if you are a typical buyer (who needs a loan to purchase a property for instance), the type of probate sale you can safely be involved with is the one administered by an executor who is in full authority to sell the property without the involvement of court.

Salee Zawerbek, Your Personal Real Estate Consultant For LIFE!


Home without vanity: Ask a woman!

Growing up with five sisters myself, I feel Alexandra Kozinski when she said, growing up with two sisters and living away at college for 4 years, I realized something: don’t take personal space for granted. It’s a rare commodity.

When I moved into my own place, I knew I had to dedicate a spot in my home for “getting ready.” I wanted a place where my beauty products were organized and neat so I could sit down every morning and prepare for my day in peace, without running all over the place looking for a spare bobby pin or eye shadow brush.

Setting up a vanity station, I found, was something that required some planning. Here are my tips for creating the perfect set-up at home:

1. Make sure you go through your stash and throw out anything that’s old or expired: 
There’s no use in organizing products you don’t use or should no longer be using due to expiration dates. (YES, makeup has expiration dates!) Do a full clean-out of makeup, hair, and skincare products and only keep what you use regularly. This will minimize clutter and make for more efficient decisions when getting ready every day.

2. Pick a vanity table that makes cleaning easy: My vanity has a glass top, so wiping it down is a breeze. If your vanity table is made out of wood or another material that’s difficult to clean, remember you can always take measurements of the table’s dimensions and have a piece of glass cut to sit perfectly on top.  In the meantime, use a washable cover to protect the wood.

3. Find the perfect spot in your home to set up your vanity: 
I think the perfect spot is in your bedroom and near a window so you can make use of natural light, or even in a corner of your home office. I wouldn’t suggest setting up in any of your main living spaces, but hey – your house, your rules!

4. Be creative: 
Put some personality into your vanity area by adding a fun vintage mirror painted in your favorite color, or making decorative organizers out of mason jars or flower pots to ensure each of your brushes has a home.

Setting up an organized vanity area is guaranteed to make getting ready at home fun and fabulous!

Salee Zawerbek, Your Personal Real Estate Consultant For LIFE!

SOURCE:  Coldwell Banker Blog- Alexandra Kozinski

President Obama: Is This The Angel Of Death Or Robin Hood?

Last night… President Obama has unveiled his tax proposal in the State of the Union Message. In preparation for the conversations that I maybe having with you, my clients, I called one of the partners at RBZ Accounting and Consulting to ask the question, what does this mean to me, my clients and Real Estate. Here is the response:

“As you noted and to answer your question: President Obama unveiled his tax proposal in Tuesday’s State of the Union address – and it has been called many different names.

The Wall Street Journal is calling it a tax hike proposal whereas, the New York Times is calling it a tax cut proposal. It has also been labeled both a “Robin Hood” tax and an “Angel of Death” tax. All of these labels are applied to the same set of facts but are interpreted through different filtering lenses.

Like any proposal of this nature, the devil is the details, and details are what we don’t have at this time. Hence, at this point, we will not be able to answer the question, “If this passes, how will it affect me?” However, we have summarized what is currently on the table:  How money would be raised and the money would be spent”.

How money would be raised:

  1. Capital gains tax for couples with annual incomes in excess of $500,000 would be raised to 28% from the current 20%.
  2. The step up in basis will be eliminated for the heirs of “large” estates. Currently the basis of the inherited assets is adjusted to their FMV at the time of inheritance. It is not quite clear what constitutes a “large” estate.
  3. Large financial institutions will be subject to a new tax that is based on their liabilities. This new proposal will affect the banks that have assets of $50 billion or more.

How the money would be spent:

  1. Earned income tax credit is proposed to be broadened not include families without children and noncustodial parents.
  2. Triple the amount of maximum tax credits to $3,000 for childcare for low and middle income taxpayers for children under the age of five years.
  3. $500 tax credit for married couples that both hold jobs. The credit is proposed to apply to families with annual income of up to $210,000.
  4. Simplify and consolidate six education tax breaks into two.
  5. Stimulate retirement savings by automatically enrolling people who don’t have access to an employer retirement plan in an IRA and expand access to employer sponsored plans for certain part time employees.

Salee Zawerbek, Your Personal Real Estate Consultant For LIFE!


Housing Market Adjusts… Outlook for another better year!

2014 Looks Like A Better Year

A total of 5.09 million U.S. previously owned houses were sold in 2013 compared with 4.66 million the prior year and the most since 2006, today’s report from the real-estate agents’ group showed.

Purchases reached a 5.39 million annualized pace in July and August, a four-year high, before a jump in mortgage rates hurt demand.  The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.39 percent this week, up from 3.35 percent in early May, according to Freddie Mac data released today.

Existing-home sales, which are tabulated when a purchase contract closes, are recovering from a 13-year low of 4.11 million in 2008 after reaching a record 7.08 million in 2005.

The median forecast of 76 economists in a Bloomberg survey projected sales would reach a 4.93 million rate last month. Estimates ranged from 4.8 million to 5.1 million. November’s figure was revised to 4.82 million from a previously reported 4.9 million.

Positive forecasts of a better 2014 on the way!!

Salee Zawerbek, Your Personal Real Estate Consultant For LIFE!


Thinking of listing your home on the market? Avoid these 3 mistakes!!


Three Things That Can Devalue Your Home


There are many factors to consider when determining a home’s worth.  For instance, a property’s location alone can either increase or decrease its value.  Total square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms also impact the home’s value, as does the school district that’s assigned to the home.  And although some factors cannot easily be changed – it’s pretty tough to get school district lines redrawn – there are plenty of items within our control.

Often when it’s time to sell, homeowners will sit down and think of ways they can improve the value of their home, but in doing so, they fail to realize the ways in which they may be unknowingly be devaluing their house. Did you know that some home improvement could actually harm you when you try to sell?

Here are a few ways that you could unknowingly decrease the market value of your home.

Kitchen and Bathroom Renovations

For years people have been told that the kitchen and master bathroom can “make or break” the sale of a house.  And while it’s true that a lot of focus is given to these particular rooms, you need to be very careful if renovating this space.  It is easy to spend a lot of money when renovating these two rooms and if you select features that are too excessive or overstated in design they will lessen the overall value – even if you’ve paid top dollar for high end materials.

Water Elements Such as a Pool or Hot Tub

The gorgeous, shimmering swimming pool in your backyard may have offered you countless hours of fun and relaxation, and perhaps your kids made lasting summertime memories splashing with their friends, but that pool may not be helping your property when it’s time to sell your home.  A lot of buyers think pools and other water features, such as a hot tub or a pond, are added expenses and extra maintenance required on the home.  Bear in mind, this will change dramatically based on geography; a pool home in a tropical, resort-like location will have no problems, whereas a pool home in a colder, northern climate might not be as fortunate.


Outdoor landscaping plays a huge role in “curb appeal” which can directly impact your home’s value.  If you neglect the landscaping and it becomes overgrown and weed infested it loses all appeal.  Poor curb appeal lowers value.  But did you know that investing in an expensive, lush landscaping package is not necessarily any better?  Decorative landscaping will not increase your property’s value.  Sure, it looks fantastic, but it may not add value to your home. In fact, some home buyers will be turned off by the amount of work it takes to maintain the grounds.  Anything that exceeds a “normal” well-maintained and manicured yard will yield a low return on investment.  Should a homeowner choose to add a lush, vibrant landscape package, they should view it as something that will bring them personal enjoyment only.

Salee Zawerbek, Your Personal Real Estate Consultant For LIFE!

Source:  Forbes.com

Selling your home? Make sure to landscape

Landscape your home to sell: 5 tips to save green.  


When selling your home, landscaping determines whether your home feels inviting from the outside. Curb appeal is important to 71 percent of homebuyers when choosing their abode, according to a 2013 National Association of Realtors survey. Landscaping is a large part of that curb appeal, says Frank J. Lucco, managing director of IRR-Residential Appraisers & Consultants in Houston.

"That first impression is important," says Lucco. "If they don't like the looks of the front of the house, which is mostly landscaping," often they won't even go inside.

A landscaping investment could potentially pay a 215 percent return in home value, says Margaret Woda, a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate in Crofton, Md. While you may only recoup 68 percent of kitchen renovation fees, Woda says landscaping is money well- spent.

Keeping up with the Joneses is important, says Lucco. If your neighbors' yards are run-down, spending a lot on landscaping isn't worthwhile. But if your neighbors have renovated homes with beautiful greenery, you need to do the same so buyers don't move on to homes with better curb appeal.

Here are five things to consider with your landscaping.


Planning ahead is important if you want to sell your home. "You can't just decide to sell your house tomorrow and expect the landscaping to be ready," says Woda. "If you're thinking of moving next fall, (then) this spring, you should be working on your landscaping."

Start by cleaning up the yard, removing dead branches, dog droppings, weeds and anything broken, says Woda. "The most important thing in landscaping is maintenance," she says.

Eric King, of King Landscaping in Atlanta, recommends investigating the unseen, ensuring the downspouts are clean and functional, and making sure drain pipes are properly buried and draining so water doesn't pool. Then make sure your hard-scapes (things such as patios, walkways and fences) are level and that roots haven't pushed up sidewalks or patio stones. If your deck has wobbly railings or loose steps, fix them, says King. "People don't want a mystery," he says.

Take a serious look at your plants' health, says Lucco. "Dead and dying (plants) or things leading to additional maintenance problems need to be corrected."

If you're in an established neighborhood, remove overgrown shrubs encroaching on the sidewalk or ones that are too big, don't flower or are out of style. "They look terrible to anyone except the owner," says Woda. As an owner, you may have an emotional investment in them, having tended to them for decades, but, "Let go of your shrubs. Dig them up."


In the front yard, landscaping's role is to help people notice the house first, says King. The landscaping should pull your eyes to the front door. While the Realtor is opening the lockbox, buyers will be looking around at the landscaping, so have pots of blooming flowers nearby.

Trees, bamboo and other screening plants can be used to hide anything unsightly, such as your neighbor's garage door or the trash cans, says King. "You want to make your house look good and hide the ugly views," he says.

Woda says foundational plants such as evergreens are better than those that lose their leaves. "What if you want to sell your house in the winter?" she says. Also, plants that are beautiful when blooming don't add to curb appeal out of season. Accent plants such as knockout roses bloom all summer. "They're super easy to take care of," she says.

Trees can add value, providing canopy, shade and insulation from sun, but they have issues, too, says Lucco. Tree roots can damage the foundation, die or be too close to the house. Buyers may not want fruit- or nut-bearing trees. "Some buyers won't pay one penny extra and might even cut them down," he says.

In the backyard, people like a comfortable spot to hang out, says King. Think decks or patios.

Other personalized options, such as fire pits, outdoor kitchens, fountains and lighting, are things that make a backyard more of a paradise, says Lucco. "You don't just walk out and look at a fence."

Only install a fire pit, outdoor kitchen or water feature if you want them because you likely won't recoup your money, says King. "A small statue fountain is less money and maintenance and may not be overwhelming," he says. But, "Anything over $5,000 that's hard-scape in those categories, do (it) because you want it, not because you're doing it for resale."

These features can positively impact an appraisal if they're quality construction and well-maintained, says Woda. Some materials are better than others. A cobblestone patio is better than poured concrete. A stacked-stone retaining wall is more appealing than railroad ties. "That said, railroad ties and a poured concrete patio are better than one lacking any patio or any retaining wall where one is needed," Woda says.

As for furniture, it doesn't have to be expensive, but it should be in good condition, says Woda. "Power-wash it if needed. Get new cushions. That's an inexpensive way to dress things up," she says.


It's easy to get carried away fixing up a yard to look good for buyers. Woda says not to install anything too personal or unique that lacks universal appeal. For example, she doesn't recommend keeping play equipment in the yard. "If you purchased a $5,000 play structure and now you're moving, take it apart and take it with you," she says. "What are the odds that the next buyer will have children your kids' ages who like to do the same things?"

Don't waste money buying all mature plants. "Spend money where you need it," Woda says. "If you have a few spots driving you crazy where you want privacy, buy one or two big specimen trees. For the rest, put in a 3-gallon flowering shrub."

When trying to make a statement by your front steps, spend the money and get a larger plant. Otherwise, put in smaller plants, and be patient as they grow.

Fencing is another asset to buyers, whether they have kids or just want privacy, says Woda. "I've heard many clients say they'll have the expense of putting in a fence if they buy that house," she says. Pick the right fence, though. Alternate board fencing is popular, but you'll be wasting money if you put in stockade and chain-link fences.

When trying to sell a house, "Carve out a nice, simple lawn area and mulch the bed," King says. "Limit the number of plants, and simplify the design so you don't have 200 different plants that people don't recognize and will be scared to take care of."

Design the yard with plants and grass that work well in your environment and that don't need a lot of water, fertilizer and pruning. "We're not in Fiji," King says. "We don't get 80 inches of rain a year. Take a plant that can grow in your area."

That also means knowing how the plant will grow before you buy it, says Lucco. "It looks good to people when they go to the nursery because they're in small, 1-gallon containers. And two years from now, they have a giant tree in front of their house."

A lush lawn that's well-graded and healthy is appealing, says King. "This is America. We love our lawns." He adds that the lawn doesn't have to be large as long as there's a focal point or play area. "Take care of it, and keep it beautiful."

Just like inside, remove outdoor clutter, which could include unrelated, different-size plants. King says sometimes he removes plants instead of adding more, and the landscaping looks better. "Life is chaotic enough," he says. "Landscape should be simple, elegant and beautiful."

SOURCE:  Bankrate

Salee Zawerbek, Your Personal Real Estate Consultant For LIFE!


ALL THE LEAVES ARE BROWN: How I love Fall Decorating

3 Quick and Easy Tips for Fall Decorating

While spring is for cleaning, fall is for cozy nooks and crannies that beg for an evening of cider and a good book with a blanket. Create that nesting vibe with these three quick, easy and inexpensive tips!

1. Branch out- Oh how I love LED branches and whoever invented them! I’ve had mine for two years and they have yet to burn out. They’re cozy, they make a statement and they are oh-so fall. 


2. Mask It- With Halloween, the quickly setting sun, and memories of fairy tales and ghost stories, fall to me always feels a little mystical. I add flair around my house with masks by putting them on lamps, hanging them from doorways and fireplaces, etc. They add an element of intrigue.


3. Pinecone Garland-  Like LED branches, pinecones won’t go bad on you. String them together and drape wherever you want for an instant fall look! If you don’t have time to collect your own, check your local market for a bag of them, often times they’re sold with cinnamon scent already added!

I hope you enjoy the season as much as I do.

Source:  Renters.com

Salee Zawerbek, Your Personal Real Estate Consultant For LIFE!