This trust property sale had a few unexpected elements. First, the appointed co-trustees didn’t know each other well. And while one of them was especially surprised to be named, oddly, neither was close to the deceased.

Without the trustees’ built-in perspective on the property, it required some investigation to find out about this top-floor Cow Hollow condo.

And because the co-trustees had very intense, busy careers, they wanted a good leader to keep the project on track. The estate planning attorney brought me in to help.

How many units?

We started with what we thought we knew–the basics. We were looking at a two-story, two-unit building governed by a mini-homeowners’ association.

But digging into the title, we discovered the HOA actually oversaw three units. A freestanding home existed on the back side of the property, accessed through an alley.

To be a credible seller, you have to present accurate facts to potential buyers.

A few curve balls

All of us were startled to find out the mortgage hadn’t been paid in three months. Foreclosure was looming and the HOA dues hadn’t been paid in a while either.

As the co-trustees carried on their busy lives, we tackled more obstacles as they turned up.

The owner downstairs complained about a leak from the shower in our upstairs unit. We brought in a licensed plumber and got him to sign off after completing the repair.

To further unburden the co-trustees, I recommended a team of service providers and they agreed to my hauler/mover, painter, inspectors and stager.

Prepping the home for a faster, more lucrative sale, we resurfaced (paint, flooring, etc.), supervised more repairs, installed new lighting and staged the property.

Unraveling the HOA

We thought the owner of the larger house on the property’s south side alleyway was the HOA president. After dropping a letter at his place, his wife got in touch and confirmed it.

He let us know the HOA had CC&Rs recorded against the property, but little else. No budget or bank account, no meeting minutes—the items a lender would want to see.

The unincorporated association was loosely organized and we guided the process of producing the necessary documentation. Other tasks we took on included tracking down insurance papers on the building, defining the outline of the building and documenting who belonged to the HOA.

Maybe you don’t want this home

Our job was to coach the agents and mortgage brokers as buyers expressed interest. We explained, “If you insist on a tremendous amount of information about the property, you may need to move on. There’s some we just can’t produce. If your buyer is nervous and wants out, just tell us.”

The property was listed at $899,000 and we got multiple offers. For the first round of offers, we couldn’t get a response from both of the overstretched trustees in time to answer the buyers. We had to ask for extensions.

But we made it happen. The transaction closed for $1,100,000—no contingencies, except for minimal documentation. By putting together a one-page disclosure statement from the HOA, we helped get the mortgage approved.

Our approach on a trust sale is to get in, get it done and protect the estate. If you need an expert hand in managing the details, get in touch.



Published in AAC, Best Practices, Lawfirm, Strategy