Friday, 13 February 2015 00:00

Probate sales: when there's a will, there's a way

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Probate sales: when there's a will, there's a way Probate sales: when there's a will, there's a way

Selling a house after the death of a loved one can be poignant – but probate sales offer great opportunities to both buyers and vendors...

James Mills was a baby when his parents moved into a classic Thirties house called Sunbury in the beguiling village of Matfield in Kent. His childhood was spent scrumping in the orchards and exploring the hedgerows. He remembers the wonderful sunsets that flared on hot summer evenings across the fields behind the house.

He is now 40 and both his parents have died. His two older sisters live in Norway and Alaska, so he is handling the final sale of the home where they all grew up. The house is tile-hung with four bedrooms, a big country kitchen with an Aga, and is laid with blond wood floors. “My parents were into the Scandinavian style which was fashionable in the Seventies,” says James.
He has de-cluttered Sunbury so that viewers can see the rooms more clearly. “My parents felt they were setting a trend when they came out of London to live in a village and commute. My father caught the train back into the City every day for 36 years until he retired.” This was a time when The Good Life was on television and many couples felt they had a dash of Tom and Barbara in them.

The world established by our parents only fully vanishes when the family house is sold. “That will be the real ending. It is weird to think of all the things that have gone on in the house and now it has run its course,” says James. Savills has priced the house at £825,000. “My mum would have liked the idea of another young couple moving in to enjoy it, maybe commute and continue the dream they had.”

About one in 10 of the properties coming to the market now is a probate sale, according to a survey by Move With Us estate agents. “Probate properties are often great buys,” says director Robin King. “Purchasing a probate sale, however, often takes a different approach and there are a few extra things that buyers need to consider and some extra checks to make.”
For example, probate properties are often old and need updating, but buyers should realise that this will have been factored into the price so it is probably not worth trying to negotiate a discount. Also, as energy-saving has moved up the agenda, buyers should question the age of the central-heating boiler and think about insulation standards. It is a good idea to talk to neighbours, who may give valuable insights.

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