In a nutshell:
A probate sale happens when a homeowner dies without writing a will or leaving a property to someone. In this case, the state takes over and hires an agent to sell the home. The price on probate sales may be attractive, but probate purchases can be tricky.
A few things to consider if you're interested in a probate sale:
Homes are generally sold as-is.
The estate often doesn't have they money or interest in making any repairs or offering credits. Despite that, we always recommend getting a a home inspection to make sure there aren’t major problems that would deter you from moving forward.
A purchase offer must include a 10% deposit.
In many cases, this must be in the form of a cashiers' check, payable to the estate.
The sale may require court confirmation.
It can take 30 to 45 days (or even longer) for the court appointment to be set. In California, the offers are sometimes subject to overbid, which means that other buyers can show up at the court date and outbid your offer.
Should you buy a probate sale?
If you're looking for a sure thing, probate sales aren’t for you. Most buyers are better suited waiting for a conventional sale on a home that fits their needs. But, for buyers with loads of patience and a higher tolerance for risk, a probate sale could be a good bet.