For Professionals of the Probate and Trust Industry

Tag: Real Estate

Real Estate Strategy For You?

This past week I had two closings – a Probate sale requiring a NOPA in Lancaster, and a Trust sale requiring a NOPA in Lomita. 

The administrator of the Lancaster sale is located in Northern California, and requested “full service”.  I had my vendor clear out the property, do a sales clean and carpet shampoo within a few days, and we got the property on the market.

The PPF, acting as trustee for the Lomita property requested the same level of service.  My vendor completed a trashout, sales clean, and did some yard cleanup and landscaping to increase the curb appeal. 

Both properties sold above market value.  These properties were both outdated, and both sold to owner-occupants, at values equivalent to renovated properties in the immediate neighborhood.     They were clean and they smelled pleasant, so the buyers could envision themselves making the renovations slowly, based on their vision and preferences.

Both of these buyers did not request any repairs, credit, or price reductions from the seller.

It was smooth sailing.  The beneficiaries of both sales all consented to the NOPA.  Everyone was happy.

Why didn’t the buyers speak up after the inspection, and use their strategy to request a repair, and then, agree to a price reduction in lieu of that repair?

That’s because before I had the sellers accept their offer, I requested to have a call with the buyer’s agent and the buyer, and I anchored that discussion.  I told them both that I need to set the seller’s expectations at this stage, and ensure we’re all on the same page.  If there are any requests for repairs, or credits, or price reductions, the seller will simply move on to the next buyer, and there are many other buyers interested in the property.  Both buyers confirmed they understand, and from that moment on… they both performed beautifully!

This strategy is just one strategy I’ve developed over the years to ensure I deliver a seamless and easy sales process for my clients while obtaining the highest possible purchase prices for the properties I’m selling.

Some clients believe agents need to specialize in a localized geographic market, because they have their finger on “the pulse” of that market, or they “own that market”.   Other clients believe agents specialize in a particular style of property, say mid-century modern, and only hire agents with that specialization when they have a property to sell.  Don’t buy into this! It’s just a marketing gimmick an agent uses for personal branding.

As a real estate broker who has been doing this up and down California for almost two decades, first representing financial institutions, and later representing fiduciaries exclusively, I can tell you that the most important attributes of the agent you hire are their negotiations skills and their contract knowledge, and that, an agent obtains with lots of transactional experience.  Doesn’t matter where they’re located, and whether they have their pulse on the local market.  If the agent has transactional experience, the agent knows how to market real property, and how to evaluate any given market with the tools at hand. 

Just some tips on what to consider next time you need to hire a real estate agent to sell your property.  Ask the agent you’re considering how many properties they’ve sold in the past year, and, how many they’ve sold since they became licensed.  That will tell you how experienced the agent is.   You should also ask what the agent’s role is in the sale.  Some agents are hands-off and are not as involved in the sales process – they have a team that handles every step of the process, and the listing agent is busy seeking the next listing. Sure, the transaction will close, but had your agent been more engaged and utilized strategies to act in your best interest, perhaps you would have avoided issuing a price reduction to a demanding buyer, and, perhaps you would have been able to obtain a higher purchase price if your agent was proactive and pushed the buyers to offer more, and more.

Food for thought.

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 house was not staged at the seller’s request, but we did virtually stage every image of the 3D tour and put them together into a video… check out the video via the link below! It’s amazing what technology can do.

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 and trust real estate.

I will never tell you I have 10 different designations from this or another association of realtors. Anyone can get these designations. $150 dollars or so, and a few hours sitting in a classroom or on zoom and listening to someone that will tell you many stories from which you will not learn much.

I will not tell you, “let me take care of you” and then pass you to one of my assistants to do all the work and communicate with you.

I will never tell you “I am the best”. It is up to you to find that out for yourself.

I will tell you this:

I probably handled more real estate than any other agent you know. Why should you care?  Experience matters.

I have sold real estate all over California.  Please don’t tell me that you will send me the next asset that comes your way in Beverly Hills since I am an expert in this area.  We both know the likelihood of that happening is very small, and I do have a family to feed just like you.

I probably have not seen it all, but that should not matter. Why? I have seen enough to know how to handle any situation no matter what comes my way.

I wrote the only book explaining the probate real estate process. I could tell you it is a great book, but I will not. Instead, I ask that you read the reviews on Amazon, ask me for a copy, and find out for yourself, or both.

I am a contributor to the CEB / Continuing Education of the Bar.  As such, I educate attorneys.  How many other agents do you know that do that?

I am sorry if you feel that I am talking too much about myself, but I have to share all of this with you, since selling probate and trust real estate is such a highly competitive environment.

And there is more.  As an observant Jew that follows our ancient traditions, I can tell you that a core value is not to lie in business (and of course, in general). No matter who you are, if you share this value with me, then I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

I know that I could make much more money if I swayed from the truth; if I did something illegal in business here and there.  I do not, for example, give or accept kickbacks.  If you are into that, please find another agent to work with.  I would rather do less business during the day and sleep better at night.

And that is the truth.

I’ll Get You The Next Listing!

From time to time, I speak to a potential client that tells me this: “I’ll get you the next listing when I have one in Beverly Hills”.

Very exciting but not likely for most of my potential clients in the probate industry to have homes to sell in Beverly Hills, so, long overdue, below is the list of cities and neighborhoods throughout California in which I have sold residential and/or commercial properties to date…. If you have a property to sell anywhere in California, I am happy to help.


Agoura Hills





Anaheim Hills


Apple Valley






Baldwin Park


Bel Air

Bell Gardens


Beverly Hills

Big Bear City

Big Bear Lake





Buena Park



California City


Canoga Park




Cedarpines Park




Chino Hills








Costa Mesa




Crescent City

Culver City

Desert Hot Springs

Douglas City


El Centro

El Dorado Hills

El Monte

El Segundo





Frazier Park







Granada Hills

Grass Valley

Grizzly Flat

Hacienda Heights

Harbor City




Hermosa Beach






Huntington Beach

Huntington Park






Joshua Tree

June Lake

La Habra

La Mesa

La Mirada

La Palma

La Puenta

La Verne

Laguna Beach

Laguna Hills

Lake Almanor

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Balboa

Lake Elizabeth








Long Barn

Long Beach

Los Altos

Los Angeles

Lucerne Valley




Manhattan Beach

Marina Del Rey







Mission Hills


Monterey Park

Moreno Valley

Morro Bay

Mount Shasta

Mountain Center



New Cuyama


Newport Beach

North Hills

North Hollywood



Oak Hills








Palm Springs


Panorama City




Paso Robles



Pico Rivera

Pinon Hills

Playa Del Rey

Playa Vista




Rancho Cucamonga

Rancho Mirage

Rancho Palos Verdes

Rancho Santa Fe

Red Bluff



Redondo Beach


Redwood City




Rio Dell

Rio Vista




Rohnert Park



Rowland Heights


San Bernardino

San Clemente

San Diego

San Dimas

San Fernando

San Francisco

San Gabriel

San Jose

San Leandro

San Luis Obispo

San Mateo

San Pedro

Santa Barbara

Santa Clarita

Santa Maria

Santa Monica


Scotts Valley

Seal Beach






Shasta Lake

Sherman Oaks

Simi Valley


South Gate

South Pasadena

Squaw Valley


Studio City

Sun Valley





Temple City

Thousand Oaks








Twain Harte

Twentynine Palms



Valley Springs

Valley Village

Van Nuys





West Covina

West Hills

West Hollywood





Woodland Hills

Yucca Valley

The Practitioner’s Handbook for Probate Real Estate

I wrote this book for you! It is available on

Hope you enjoy!

This book includes step-by-step procedures showcasing the various facets of probate real estate sales, as well as diagrams that visualize these processes. It includes many suggestions and strategies to share with your real estate agent to maximize the return of each sale and mitigate your liability. The book reflects the author’s experiences in probate, residential and commercial real estate sales, brokerage management, and business process management.

Chapter 1: Defining Probate

Chapter 2: Selecting Your Real Estate Agent Amidst a Probate Petition

Chapter 3: Setting Expectations with Your Probate Agent

Chapter 4: Pre-Marketing Strategies for Probate Properties

Chapter 5: Cash for Keys Process and Agreement

Chapter 6: The Eviction Process

Chapter 7: Getting the Probate Property Ready for Market

Chapter 8: Valuing the Probate Property

Chapter 9: Real Estate Disclosures in a Probate Transaction

Chapter 10: Marketing the Probate Property

Chapter 11: Probate Specific Terms in Purchase Agreements

Chapter 12: Offer Management in a Probate Transaction

Chapter 13: Closing and Settlement in a Probate Transaction

Chapter 14: Simplified Probate Procedures

Chapter 15: Title Vesting: Impact on Probate and Step-Up in Basis

Chapter 16: Insurance and Tax Implications of a Probate Sale

Chapter 17: An In-Depth Look at the Probate Process

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).

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.