Orit Gadish - Probate Real Estate Blog

For Professionals of the Probate and Trust Industry

Page 2 of 2

Does a Quick Sale Require Auction?

Some in our industry are under the impression that they must have the property auctioned when they need to sell a property quickly.

This is never the case. 

Before I explain why let me provide you with a quick background.  At Geffen Real Estate, we have experience conducting real estate auctions.  And so, if you wish to auction your property and have not done so with us before, you are welcome to give us a try.

However, if your goal is a quick sale, all you need to do is work with your real estate broker to price the property well below the comparables, and list it on the MLS with a relatively short deadline for offer submission, require that offers are cash only and are non-contingent.  You can also request a larger EMD, such as 10%, to weed out the weaker buyers.

The results are superior to those of an auction!  How so?

Either way, the property is listed on the MLS well below the comparables.

Either way, you can choose to accept cash offers only.  Just state so in the MLS!

Either way, you can define when a property will go under contract.  How?  Specify in the MLS a deadline for offers.

Either way, you can require a quick closing.  How?  Specify a 10-day closing in the seller’s counter.

So, what’s the advantage of not selling at auction if everything is the same?

Some people may not be able to attend the auction on auction day, but they all can submit their offers at their convenience by a specified date in the MLS!  And so, the pool of potential buyers is increased, as is the competition.

And if you think there is more pressure placed on buyers at an auction, remember that buyers are typically investors, and they have their limits calculated before arriving at the auction.  They can be pushed to the same limits via a set of counters if your agent is experienced and knows what they are doing.

Orit Gadish is a member of the National Auctioneers Association.

Trashout and Cleanup of Your Properties

You have a situation where the real property you are managing needs to be sold and is full of personal property and trash.  Completing a trashout and cleaning the property costs thousands of dollars.  The estate or trust does not have the funds to pay for these services.  

Your agent may offer you to sell the property “As Is”, with all of the debris and personal property to be included in the sale.  The standard verbiage of the C.A.R. purchase agreement states that “all debris and personal property not included in the sale shall be removed by Close of Escrow or at the time possession is delivered to Buyer”.  This term can be negotiated and addressed in a counter or addendum, stating that the seller will not remove the property’s debris and personal property.  However, marketing a property in this condition will not appeal to owner-occupants, who typically can offer more than investors.  

Investors will use this condition as leverage to offer less.  Since the property is full of debris and personal property, investor buyers may not be able to determine what the floor and walls look like, what damage exists, or if there’s mold and water damage, which will affect their bottom line.  This creates added risk that they are required to take, which does not result in the highest and best offer.

Alternatively, my firm’s network of vendors can handle the trashout and cleanup, and the estate or trust can pay for their services through escrow once the property has sold.  This includes the services of an organizer who will sort through the items, create an inventory list, determine the value of these items, and facilitate the sale of the valuables.   This approach maximizes the property’s value for the estate while minimizing your liability.

For more information about this or other probate real estate related topics, please contact me at 323-606-1919 (call or text).

Relocating Occupants / Tenants from Your Properties

You have a situation where you need to sell real property that’s occupied.  The occupant can be a paying tenant or someone that was not authorized to occupy it.  In some cases, the occupant is one of the estate’s beneficiaries.  The occupant does not want to vacate the property, is unwilling to provide access to the property to show it to prospective buyers, and refuses to allow access to your agent to conduct open houses or any combination of these.

You consult with an eviction attorney, who advises that the eviction process may take at least six months, or more, and there is a cost.  The estate or trust does not have the funds to pay for the eviction, or,  needs the funds from the sale as soon as possible and can not wait for the duration of the eviction.

What to do?

Owner-occupants won’t purchase a property they have not seen, and, won’t be willing to take on the risks of an eviction and the costs involved. You can, and many agents will advise you just to sell the property occupied.  This will require you to sell the property at a substantial discount to an investor. Many agents will tell you they already have investors lined up to purchase such properties, and they do!  But will this generate the best and highest value for the estate?  Would this be acting in the estate’s best interest?  Would you be upholding your fiduciary duty and your commitment to act in the best interest of the estate?

There is another option to consider!  You may offer the occupant relocation assistance for vacating the property within a short period of time.  I have completed these transactions hundreds of times and developed best practices that motivate the occupant to cooperate with me and leave in a short period, usually two weeks.  If the estate doesn’t have the funds available for payment of the relocation assistance, my firm can provide those funds and will obtain reimbursement through escrow once the property has sold. 

For more information about this, or other probate real estate related topics, please contact me at 323-606-1919 (call or text).

Handling Squatters in Vacant Properties

On numerous occasions over the years, I’ve been asked to list properties that have squatters occupying them.  My team and I have been able to deal with this situation without any issues and get the properties vacant.   We bring a copy of the grant deed showing who the owner of the property is and also a letter from the property owner authorizing my team member to handle the situation of removing the squatters.  My team member arrives at the property as early as possible in the morning, usually, around 6am, and then calls the police to arrive.  During these early hours of the morning, the police usually don’t have much activity and arrive fairly quickly.   We show the documents to the police and the police ask the squatters to leave. 

We also have our locksmith present to secure the property/rekey.

Depending on the situation, we may also fence the property and have a surveillance system installed for ongoing monitoring, to prevent future intruders.

Handling the Disposition of Real Estate When Home Values are Declining

You need to sell a property when interest rates are on the rise.  Which sales strategy do you employ? Sell as-is, or renovate?

Before we jump in to discuss what to do, let’s take a look at the current financial climate.

The Federal Reserve has repeatedly increased interest rates in the past few months.  This has increased the cost of borrowing money to finance real estate, which has triggered a decline in real estate prices. 

Some non-investor purchasers that not long ago were in the market are now priced out with the higher interest rates, and others can no longer afford to buy what they were hoping to buy and decide to wait.  Many others fear losing their jobs and decide to wait as well.

Many investors with low borrowing costs now realize that their costs have increased and may not be willing to risk purchasing, renovating, and re-selling in a few months in an unpredictably declining market.

Other investors that wish to buy, rent, and hold, may be worried about rents dropping and decide to wait for prices to reach the bottom before they purchase again.

The bottom line is that there are suddenly fewer buyers. 

The supply of homes is not yet rapidly increasing, but if mass layoffs arrive, that could also happen.

For now, fewer buyers and a steady number of sellers are likely to push prices further down.

And with declining prices, those buyers that are still active need to protect themselves.

To buy today, they, therefore, need to buy below comps.  And when they buy below comps, this creates a new lower-priced comp that brings the neighborhood’s values even lower.

What to do if you need to sell a real property?

Sell it as quickly as possible.   List it below the current comps to ensure multiple offers and a quick sale.

Is renovating a home prior to sale, which could take 2-3 months, out of the question?


If a home is not habitable or not suitable for owner-occupants given its as-is condition, then only investors would be interested.   Remember that investors will do their calculation, and in addition to accounting for the cost of renovations, holding costs, and commissions, they would also now account for a percentage decline in value for the time period while renovations are taking place. This means that these investors would have to purchase your listing at a major discount (below comps in move-in condition).  In this case, you can employ a renovate strategy and utilize Geffen Real Estate’s services to renovate and stage.  If the trust or estate lacks funds to pay for these services, payment may be made at the close of escrow.  This allows the beneficiaries to reap the awards investors would otherwise enjoy should the as-is sales strategy be selected. If selling a fixer in as-is condition, it would need to be priced accordingly to generate a multiple offer situation with investor buyers and we are happy to help you with this as well.

Selling an Occupied Property that is Expected Vacant Upon Closing

You have a property to sell and you represent the administrator of the estate. Some of the beneficiaries occupy the property. The occupants have informed you that they will vacate the property just before the close of escrow, but there is no guarantee they will. There is no court order stating that they will.

What to do?

As the listing agent it is your duty to act in the best interest of the seller, and generate the highest possible offer for the estate.

The standard purchase contract indicates the property will be delivered vacant to the buyer. In this case, there is no guarantee that the occupant will vacate the property prior to the close of escrow and leaving the contract as it is, places the seller at risk of being in breach.

Another option some agents may propose is to specify that the property may be delivered occupied, which will make owner-occupant buyers lose interest in the property, as it poses additional risk and cost. The property would most likely be sold to an investor at a substantially lower price.

The strategy that should be used in this scenario is to add a provision to the purchase contract stating that if the occupant does not vacate the property within a specific date, the buyer has the right to cancel the transaction and have their deposit returned.

This provision accomplishes three important goals, it:

  1. Protects the seller from being in breach of contract.
  2. Provides the buyer with a level of comfort that should the occupants become non-cooperative and refuse to vacate, the buyer can cancel the transaction and retain the deposit.
  3. Motivates the occupants, who are beneficiaries of the estate, to vacate the property by the date specified. If they don’t vacate, there’s no sale, and they won’t receive their distributions.

Attracting owner-occupant buyers results in generating the highest possible offer for the estate, and that should be the ultimate goal. Owner-occupant buyers obtain financing most of the time and are willing to pay substantially more than what an investor would pay, thus providing a far greater return for the estate.

For more information about this or other probate real estate related topics, please contact me at 323-606-1919 (call or text).

Dr. Richard Corn

This is the story about my dentist. My “current dentist”. And it has to do with probate real estate so please read on (and if you need to read the post more than once to understand the connection, please do).

Let me be clear. I think Dr. Corn is amazing. So, he is my “current dentist” and until he retires hopefully not anytime soon.

Maybe your dentist is amazing, but read on just in case.

I walk into a tiny, yet fancy reception area, say hello, and each and every time I am immediately invited to come to the back to see Dr. Corn. There is never a wait. Dr. Corn replies back with a hello and also asks a question or two about the situation related to my teeth. He does have an assistant, and she is very nice, but he does most of the work, including teeth cleaning. He is more thorough than any person that has ever cleaned my teeth. I think he is passionate about them!

He is as honest as they come. Never tried to offer me services I did not need and if something can wait, or is not critical, he tells me so. You don’t have to believe me that he is great. Check out the tens of five star reviews he has on Yelp.


One more thing.  When I am there, which is usually for an hour, I rarely hear the phone ring. I am just not sure how he stays in business and supports his family. I cannot imagine ever telling him that he is the best but that I need to also see other dentists, to spread the business around. Would you?

So if you live on the westside of Los Angeles, and are not satisfied with your current dentist, do give him a try.

He is located at 8920 Wilshire Blvd #406, Beverly Hills, CA 90211 and his office number is 310-854-1845. When you call him, tell him you heard he is the best and you would like to experience this for yourself…

Should You Select A Local Real Estate Broker?

Some prefer to hire a local agent, even if they do not have probate experience or even significant real estate transactional experience. Others insist on hiring a probate expert regardless of the distance of the agent to the property.

I asked a number of those that insist on a local agent: “why only a local agent?”

Their typical response is “The local agent knows the market better. The local agent has their finger on the pulse of the neighborhood”.

On a personal note, I can tell you that having sold properties all over California, it is very simple to become a “local expert”.

I do visit my listings anywhere in California as standard practice, and meet with my clients there.

So how does one become a local expert without being local?

The internet has a wealth of information about neighborhoods, towns, and cities, and the latest happenings and news!

There are websites that provide information and rating about the quality of schools in each neighborhood.

Google maps satellite data provides me with a look from above. I zoom in to the subject property, zoom out to the neighborhood and then quickly zoom in to various locations in the neighborhood to see what the streets, shopping, parks and other points of interest look like within a certain distance of the subject.

I then look at the street view of the subject property and “drive” the streets around the property to get an additional impression.

It is quick to subscribe to a local MLS for a few months to sell the property to the local market. Once subscribed to any MLS in California, I’m able to study the comparables that are local to the subject property, derive an appropriate CMA from the same data that a “local agent” would, and list the property in the same MLS as a “local agent” would.

Over the years I have subscribed to over 30 different MLS systems and then unsubscribed once the property or properties there sold, and would re-subscribe when needed.

So, an experienced probate broker, can quickly become a “local agent” and provide you with advantages that a “local agent” may not be able to provide.

And who will do that open house you ask? I have local agents all over California who love to conduct open houses.

When working with me, you end up with a probate experienced agent that is also a “local agent” no matter where in California your property is located.

For more information about this or other probate real estate related topics, please contact me at 323-606-1919 (call or text).

Real Estate Staging | Strategy

Virtual Reality? In Real Estate Sales!

We recently created our first virtually staged 3D Tour… on a Trust sale requiring court confirmation. The property is the former residence of the Laemmle family…Carl Laemmle Jr., the producer of Dracula and Frankenstein. Carl had this home custom-built for him back in the day, perched up on Tower Grove Drive in Beverly Hills, 90210. […]


The Truth Is…

There are many real estate agents out there. So why work with me? I will never tell you I am the top agent in this or that national brokerage. At best, I can tell you the truth.  Nearly two decades ago, I founded and continue to run a boutique brokerage.  We are focused on probate […]

Probate Real Estate Books | Real Estate Education

Contributing author for CEB Continuing Education of the Bar – California / University of California (CEB.com)

I am grateful to be able to contribute annually to updating chapter 18 – SALES OF ESTATE PROPERTY of the California Decedent Estate Practice published by the CEB Continuing Education of the Bar – California / University of California (CEB.com).

Why I Decided to Start This Blog

I feel grateful to have authored two well-received books, but felt that the medium was not sufficient as I constantly have more thoughts and ideas that I wish to share with others in our industry. And so, I decided to start this blog. I hope that you will enjoy my posts. I hope that they will trigger thoughts and conversations that will allow us all to take our amazing industry to the next level.

Please call or text me at 323-606-1919 if you have any questions or topics you would like for me to discuss in future posts, or if you would like to share any stories (with or without mentioning your name in the blog).

Please visit this blog regularly as I will be posting at least once a month.

Newer posts »