By Rick Harmon, the California Probate Specialist
True story: a real estate agent attempted to make a listing only to discover that the seller didn’t own the property, nor was the seller in any position to have any capacity powers to sell. The listing agent was a commercial high end specialist and this was not that kind of property. He called us.

We needed to get someone who had the capacity to act as administrator. And this particular party was living in the property – and there were other issues, disputes with neighbors and alleged drug manufacturing and distribution in the property, and a history that this occupant had had with the family that was awkward.

So ultimately the first thing we did was clear up title issues. We got a professional fiduciary appointed and arranged to get the property listed with an agent who has experience in selling probates primarily with fiduciaries. So the agent was able to get a pretty clear listing.

There’s Meth in the House?
Now, there was one issue that was significant: the property had been red tagged by the fire authority as having a suspected presence of methamphetamine, and so we then had to find a buyer who would purchase the property with that in mind. They were not even able to physically enter the property. We made a loan to the estate where the fiduciary took the loan out and that made it possible to pay the back property taxes and bring this property out of foreclosure. But at the same time they needed $20,000 or more in immediate testing and remediation costs dealing with this drug issue because of chemicals, for which the property tested positive.

The property ended up being a pretty straightforward listing, except it was a probate listing and it did require a court confirmed sale with all the disclosures about the presence of methamphetamines and other chemicals. And in the end the irony was it was a fire department inspector who bought the property at a significant discount to market. He was an all-cash buyer. All the remediation was going to be done by the buyer.

Pulling the Puzzle Pieces Together
Ultimately, where I think the Suburban Group best served everybody was we were able to bring all the right experts in to work on the problem so the listing agent didn’t have to do all those things.

The initial agent who brought this to me said, “Forget this. I’m not messing with it.” So I brought all the pieces together. I found the attorney, the professional fiduciary, I mad the loan, and we helped them complete the court order to borrow. We got the property out of foreclosure, secured the property, and calmed down the neighbors.

Solutions From The Suburban Group
If you’re a licensed California real estate agent with a tricky probate situation, at The Suburban Group we accept referrals exclusively for California matters. Our business is based primarily on referrals from within the legal professional community and government agencies.

Most of the matters referred to us from real estate brokerages, investors, banks and loan servicers are done so that we may assist the client (executor, administrator, trustee, other fiduciary, heir, beneficiary or surviving relative) and provide a liquidity, cash flow or title solution, or legal referral.

We do not provide legal referrals for matters to third parties or cases for which we are not to be involved.

We also accept new matters from investors and “finders” provided that there are no conflicts of interest or active disputes.

Learn more about the many ways we can help at