10:58 PM 02/17/2013
We have found a house in Clinton Hill that we like very much. It is an estate sale property that is still in the process of going through Surrogate Court (as far as I understand it) to have the executor named. We have made an offer on the property, which the seller's agent seemed to think was at least worth entertaining. He explained that once the house clears the court, they'll either get back to prospective buyers with a counter-offer or accept an offer. We have been waiting for weeks, and the agents contact us saying they still haven't heard from the court. They originally said the court had hoped to be done by end of January (though they expected a wait, as well.)
We are in the middle of a grueling house-hunt in Brooklyn, and would like to at least know whether our offer can be accepted and a contract signed. We'd be ok with waiting if we at least knew yea or nay on that part and could move on if it were to be sold to another buyer (and I realize these things are shaky as it is.). The seller's agents are a very small operation and the heirs/sellers don't seem particularly legally savvy, either.
My question is, would it be possible for the seller (or would-be executor, or whatever party will be responsible) to accept an offer and sign a contract with language that it is contingent on the process being completed? In other words, can a contract be entered into before the formal appointment of an executor by the surrogate court?
If so, how do we approach the seller's broker with this proposal?
I asked our attorney but haven't heard back yet. Will ask again. But any insight from the knowledeable folks in this community would be appreciated. We really want to buy this house and hate being in limbo like this.
My understanding is that the Executor is the only person aurthorized to act on behalf of the Estate. Until that happens, I don't think there is anyone to sign an agreement on behalf of the sellers, at least not one that would be binding on everyone.
I thought that Executors can be appointed pretty quickly although there might be complications holding things up. It is getting all the heirs to agree than can take forever. What is really a business agreement can become an emotional one.
If you think they might be jerking you around, maybe you can go the Surrogate's Court and see if you can get a copy "Certificate of Appointment of Executor" to check if the appointment was already made. Recently I was able to get a copy for my father's Estate from the Surrogate's Court without a problem.
10:28 AM 02/18/2013 | 0 Votes
Just how "grueling" is your house hunt compared to the experience of losing a family member? You complain that the "heirs/sellers don't seem particularly legally savvy," as if your own questions are extremely savvy, let alone their first priority. Under "normal" conditions, Letters Testamentary will take 6-8 weeks, assuming the deceased left a will, and the will's not being challenged.
10:07 PM 02/18/2013 | 0 Votes
You are going to need a real estate attorney when you get an offer accepted anyway - so contact one now, ask this question, use it as a way of feeling out the attorney (if you don't already have one, in which case you should be asking them) to see if you want to use them for your closing. They should want to answer this for you as a way of showing you they can represent you well so you will hire them. It might be useful to know all the ins and outs (from an attorney familiar with them) about what can happen in this situation (buying from an estate) BEFORE you make an offer.
11:32 AM 02/20/2013 | 0 Votes
Thanks for the responses! @housepoor that's what I think the case is here. It should be happening faster but we don't know any more about it or what complications there may be, and basically nobody can enter an agreement according to the seller's lawyer. @cupolacoffee, From what we've seen, I don't think this is a case of a bereaved family that is being pestered, and that's all I'll say about that without being rude. @brokelin we have an attorney, from what I can tell he's been pretty good so far, we have a pretty good team ready in general (GREAT inspector, highest recs for Jay Kaplan, Kaplan Home Inspection) but I don't think he got back to us on this question. thanks for the insight.
2:31 AM 02/23/2013 | 0 Votes
We just wish we had some answers so we could move on definitively as we're looking at other places.
2:32 AM 02/23/2013 | 0 Votes