Case Study: We Buy Houses Stockton Probate
I have written many articles about the challenges when inheriting a house in Stockton. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter where the house is located, if you are not financially prepared to be a homeowner, you may not be prepared to deal with the challenges that arise from an inherited house whether its next door, across town or 200 miles away.
Most people consciously make the choice of home-ownership, but what happens when its thrust upon you and you inherit a house from a parent or other relative? What happens if it has a mortgage? What happens if there is so much deferred maintenance that you are not financially prepared to deal with it? What happens when your siblings tells you that they don’t want anything to do with the problems, instead, they just want the proceeds from the sale of the house? What happens if mom or dad were hoarders and there is so much stuff inside the house that you don’t know where to begin? What happens when there is no will and a Probate is required? Worse yet, what happens when the estate has no money and as the heir you don’t have the money to pay for any of it either?
The common thread with all of the family members that I talk to is that the issues become so complicated and convoluted they really don’t know where to start. I know that most parents never intended the asset that they worked so hard for, to end up being a burden on their children. I know because I have talked to so many children that didn’t realize that a plan was needed before their parents passing to make that a reality and yet there are hundreds if not thousands of houses in Stockton alone that are ticking time bombs for those that will inherit them.
Unwanted house issues are like peeling away the layers of an onion. Each layer has new challenges and solutions and most of them require time, energy, expertise and money. There are so many different scenarios and over time the solutions to the issues that arise become very obscure and difficult to navigate emotionally and financially that many just give up.
I have decided to write these case studies and share the stories of these family’s as a way to help others realize that life can change in an instant and yet there are reliable and reputable resources that can help.
This is the story of Judy and her mother’s house. I don’t know many of the details regarding the relationship between Judy and her mother (although I suspect it was very good). I do know, however, that the house she wanted to sell was her childhood home and she had fond memories of living there with her parents and brother. But things had changed upon her mothers passing.
Here’s Her Story and Challenges:
- Deferred Maintenance of a house
- House of a Hoarder
- Code Violations
- Health Department
- No Money For Repairs
As all children do, we eventually leave home to build our own lives. We do so without a lot of thought about the future or the eventuality that one day was going to need to deal with our parent’s affairs. For most of us, that is an admission of mortality that we don’t want to face. Debbie’s story, while unique in some regards is very common among children that inherit a parents house without a will.
As Judy tells the story, “Things with her mother had definitely changed”. As her mother aged so did her ability to maintain the family house. To compound matters, her habits changed as well and there was a general accumulation of stuff that started to occur. While it happened slowly, over the course of 25 to 30 years the piles of stuff became mountains and pathways and no one was allowed to touch anything. It was all very important to her mother.
Selling the House of a Hoarder
When her mother passed, Judy knew one thing and that was that she was going to have to deal with the house on her own. That was 2011. It never happened. Judy couldn’t face the issues inside the house. Stacks of clothing, new and old, newspapers, magazines, books, garbage all stacked 4 feet high with paths to rooms so full of stuff that the doors were impossible to open. In her mind there was no place to stand and no place to begin and definitely no place for all of the trash that needed to be removed. Can you imagine having to sort through years of accumulation, knowing that important and sentimental things that have real meaning and value are strewn in with the rest of the junk?
Read More: The Cost of Selling your House in Stockton
That was the dilemma, so Judy locked the door and left for 7 years. She paid the mortgage (equity line of credit), the property taxes, the insurance, the electricity and water every month for 7 years and it haunted her. She knew she just couldn’t go back in alone and yet there was no one to help her. So she stayed away, reminded every day of what she had failed to accomplish. It was her burden, everyone she loved said so.
When I talk to homeowners, I get a real sense of their pain and struggles. I understand the challenges and yet I know that until they themselves are ready to act, it usually takes an act of some third party to make things real and necessary. Lesser people walk away. Not Judy. She toughed it out and then…
She lost her job. Not because of the house or those issues but because of downsizing at her company. All of a sudden the house that was the emotional burden now became a huge financial burden as well. It was the first time that she missed a months mortgage payment and now she didn’t know how she was going to make the next. She was panicked about how or if she could save it and the equity that was certainly in the house.
To make matters worse, 7 years is a long time for a vacant house to sit without heat and air conditioning or any attention whatsoever. Houses settle, sheetrock and plaster crack, windows crack or break, dry rot and mold growth and eventually things give way. Trees and shrubs grow and once the landscape and parts of the house become one, holes appear, rot accumulates, roofs and ceiling fail and collapse and before you know it the inside and outside create a partnership in an ongoing overture of destruction.
Next came the county’s code enforcement officer, responding to neighbor complaints, that lead to code violations from the City of Stockton and fines and finally the county health department posting notices on the house. Next came vandalism from vagrants and squatters. The downhill roll of the snowball was gaining speed and growing and Judy could feel the weight crushing every aspect of her life. She was scared that she would lose the house and didn’t know where to turn.
The final blow came when, Judy’s husband, a truck driver was sidelined because his “big rig’s” turbo had overheated and disintegrated two weeks earlier. Another $12,000 expense the couple was not prepared for.
Judy just wanted to sell the house, but it was still in her mother name. Then the rude awakening… it is virtually impossible to sell a house without actually owning the house. You need to have the title in your name. To amplify matters, the estate required a Probate to determine the succession of ownership and that cost money too. There was no money.
What’s Needed Now:
By the time Judy had called me, she had already missed the third mortgage payment and the house was in Pre-foreclosure. Although no notice of Default had been issued. That was just a matter of time. The clock was ticking. Probate, Foreclosure, Code Violations and Health Department Notices all with a house that had suffered so much deferred maintenance that most people would assume the only solution was a bulldozer.
As I said earlier, house issues are like onions, each layer, while related to the previous, needs to be separated and dealt with individually. Some houses are really easy because the homeowner can sell all of the problems in one fell swoop and be done with it. That is what Judy wanted to do. It’s what everyone wants to do. The problem with Judy’s house, however, was that she was not even the owner. Her Mother was still on title and one thing is for certain, you cannot sell a house that is not in your name.
I started to explain the process for each issue and what would need to happen if I was going to take this on. I was honest and straightforward and spoke bluntly about what needed to happen if we even had a prayer to pull this off.
We talked about the house and I outlined what we could do to buy the house and stop the Foreclosure in Stockton.
- We would need to look at the property for an evaluation and comparative market analysis to determine the real current value
- We would make an offer based on the houses current value minus repairs and holding the cost
- If we agreed on a price we would need to sign a purchase and sale agreement
- We would need to submit that agreement to the Title Company to open escrow
- We’d pay $5,500.00 to Chase Bank to catch up on all of the missed mortgage payments, plus legal expenses.
- I’d hire and pay for a probate attorney to start the process
- We’d advance $12,000.00 to Judy to get her husbands truck repaired
- Once probate was completed we’d set a date and time and complete the sale at the Title Company.
- We’d continue to make the mortgage payments
[Related Story: Ugly Houses in Stockton are Not Hard to Sell]
Judy was concerned about three things; 1) the missed mortgage payments and the pending foreclosure, 2) getting a cash advance to fix her husbands truck and 3) the probate cost for her mother’s house
Judy was concerned that the bank was going to foreclose before she could sell the house. She was concerned that with everything required we would not be able to meet the deadline. I tried to reassure that while it was going to be close, we needed to address the big items first and sometimes doing it the wrong way would have the same result as doing nothing at all.
The valuation was another of Judy’s concerns. She knew that the house was in terrible condition and wondered like most scared individuals whether it was even worth saving. You have to realize that the threat of losing something that you are charged with protecting is a huge motivation and also a huge responsibility and this was weighing heavily on her mind. Had she done enough? Could she have done more? Keep in mind that Judy was alone in this… even her husband refused to even go inside of the house. It was that bad.
I explained that while the house was in bad shape, it still had value and that what I needed to do was my best at coming up with a price. I explained that as a cash home buyer in Stockton, I would not buy the house to move in. My intentions were to fix it and then resell it for a profit.
The Evaluation and Our Solution:
The walk-through took all of 45 minutes. It was by far in the worst condition I had ever seen. We discussed the comparable sales reports for houses sold in the neighborhood and the condition of the house, the nature of the repairs and amount of the cash offer I felt comfortable with for the house.
I listened as Judy explained the home equity line of credit balance, (a mortgage owed), what she wanted out of the house, as equity, and in a matter of 30 minutes, we agreed on a sales price. It was really that simple. We drafted a Purchase and Sale Agreement and we both signed the agreement.
Immediately, I wrote three checks. One to Chase Bank for the mortgage in arrears, one to Judy for $12,000.00 and one to the Title Company for the earnest money deposit.
[Related Story: Sell My House Stockton Fast Case Study]
We Buy Houses Stockton Probate:
The closing occurred that Friday afternoon. Judy requested another week to move her mother’s things out. Granted.
There are very few real estate transactions that go exactly as planned. There are always issues that present a challenge. The question is who is in your corner to make sure that those issues are attended to and that they get done in a timely manner.
My name is Peter Westbrook and I am a local cash home buyer in Stockton, Manteca, Modesto and Sacramento CA. We Buy Houses in any condition and if you have a house to sell call me at (209)481-7780. I know that I can help you. With nearly 35 years of business experience, nearly 10 years of real estate investing and 100’s of real estate transactions, I can present solutions that most others have never even heard of. I understand that not every situation is the same and sometimes we need to tailor make our solutions to best fit your needs.
We are experts in helping people find their way out of complicated homeownership issues.
[Related Story: The Probate Process in California]