What’s the difference between a probate referee appraisal and a normal real estate appraisal?

According to the California Civil Code, when dealing with a probate, you have to get a probate referee appraisal. The probate referee is determined on a county-by-county basis. This person is an appraiser who will make an assessment of value on the property. They also look at the inventory of personal property and any other assets.

Probate referees do what’s called a “drive-by appraisal,” which isn’t always the most accurate valuation, and there are a couple reasons why.

The first is that they’re not actually looking at the interior of the property or the backyard. They’re also not looking at whether there have been any upgrades or renovations or if there needs to be any upgrades or renovations to bring the property up to standard. After that, they’ll take a survey of the local area of the other properties that have sold.

“Real estate brokers will give the probate property a full CMA.”

With a normal appraisal with a real estate broker, we’ll give the property a comparative market analysis (CMA). We look at what’s going on, what the trends are, and how properties are actually selling in their current conditions. If your property is a fixer upper, we’ll consider that based on other properties that may need to be upgraded.

We’ll also examine whether the market is trending upward. In many markets here in Northern California, conditions can vary city by city and even neighborhood by neighborhood. Some neighborhoods are very hot and getting multiple offers for even fixer-upper properties in spite of their value.

So remember—a probate referee is an important and necessary part of the probate puzzle, but they don’t always give an accurate, fair-market value of what a property will sell for in today’s market.

We provide a free guide on probate and we have many other resources about the subject we can provide to you. Whether you’re thinking of keeping your property, selling your property, renting it out, or you’re just not sure, we’d be happy to give you a free, no-obligation consultation to help you come to an informed decision.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help.