Misunderstandings that kill home sales
What you see isn’t always what you get when it comes to home furnishings. You may think that because you saw what you thought was a fixture that comes with the home, it will still be there once you take possession. That’s not always the case, and misunderstandings over what stays and what goes have killed many a sale.
Most sellers realize that staging a home for sale – spending the time and effort to make it look its best – goes a long way to having their home look inviting to a buyer home staging tips. Oftentimes, this involved paying a professional to move furnishings in that aren’t yours to help sell an empty house – or move some of yours out if there’s too much of them. But if you have really good stuff in your home that already play up your home’s best features, your home might already be show-ready.
There’s one problem, though. If you have killer furnishings, your buyer may want them.
It’s common for certain appliances to stay with the home in the sale, but that doesn’t mean some sellers don’t intend to take what is there with them for their new home. This should be spelled out in the listing or on the seller’s disclosure form. If it’s not, be sure to have this done before you put an offer in so that you know upfront if you have to spend money to replace them. Other items, from built-ins to light fixtures, can be harder to pinpoint and can cause confusion if a buyer expects them to stay (and makes an offer with those things in mind), while the seller fully intends to pack them up and take them on moving day. Having these things spelled out in advance means there will be no surprises at a walk-through or to your wallet.
What’s a fixture, and what’s its significance?
A fixture can be anything, so long as it’s attached to the property and its removal would cause damage.
“The general rule of thumb is this: if it takes a screwdriver to remove the item, it is generally considered a fixture of the property,” says Jeff Knox, a Texas real estate agent.
- Appliances: Dishwashers, built-in microwaves, cooktops and sinks almost always stay with a house. But the fridge and the washer/dryer are frequently up for discussion, as might be a drop-in range. Typically, if it’s built into the cabinetry, it stays. If it’s free-standing, it could very well go with the seller. These are items that your real estate agent would need to get clarification on.
- Light Fixtures: That beautiful chandelier that you see upon entering the home, or over the dining room table, may not stay with the home, even if the seller acknowledges that a chandelier comes with the home. It may not be the gorgeous crystal one that you fell in love with, but rather a home depot budget buy. Light fixtures and ceiling fans will usually remain as part of the sale, but best to be sure. Again, this is something that your agent needs to clarify for you if in fact it’s something you are counting on.
- Window treatments. Typically, blinds and shades stay as they are usually custom fit to the windows. But many sellers have upscale curtains and drapes which coordinate with their furniture, and will take them along with the furniture. This is a hot topic for sellers and buyers to discuss with their agents. Again, if you are attached to the window coverings, make sure which treatments stay and which go.
- Flat-screen TVs: A flat screen TV mounted on the wall can make a real estate agent run for the hills. “Technically, this is a built-in fixture,” says Knox. But when the homeowner loves to have friends over to watch the game on that 75-inch screen, odds are it won’t stay as part of the deal. If you, as a seller, plan to take that TV and mount with you, be sure to exclude those items from the sale. As a buyer, make sure you know if it stays or goes (you may want it out of there!).
- Backyards storage shed: A buyer looks around the backyard and is impressed by the storage shed and all the stuff that it can hold. But what if the seller plans to take it with them when they move. Usually these types of things stay, but this needs to be clarified. Most items are negotiable.
How would a buyer go about obtaining furniture that isn’t a fixture?
Simple…..ask for the furniture or stand-alone fixtures as part of the offer, if possible at no additional cost to you. Another option is to wait and use those items as a negotiation tool negotiation tips if the seller counters your offer. Offer a higher price if these items are included in the sale, but make sure that they end up in the purchase contract and do a final walk-through to make sure that they are still there before you go to closing.
What if the seller wants to leave furniture and free-standing fixtures?
Sometimes sellers don’t want to move big items across town, let along cross-country, so they might prefer that the buyer keep them – but not necessarily for free. After all, you might want to recoup some of the costs of that baby grand piano, but you might not want to incur the expense of hauling it to your new place. “Do not ever advertise that you are willing to sell or leave any items with the home until you agree to a price on the home during contract negotiations,” Knox advises sellers. Mak e the home transaction and the furniture transaction two separate deals. After you’ve sold the home and signed the contract, ”You can then offer other items to the buyer at an additional price.”
What are finishes, and how do these apply?
Home finishes are décor – the decorations that make the home look the way it does. Paint is considered a finish, even though it stays with the walls. Generally, sellers don’t take finishes with them, but buyers can try to negotiate a lower purchase price if the paint color is awful or the kitchen countertops are in disrepair. On the other hand, buyers need to be careful not to be fooled by an older home with brand-new, pretty finishes. The eye-catching finishes may be hiding less obvious problems which may be overlooked as a result what sellers can hide, such as cracks in the foundation or water stains on the ceiling from a leaky roof.
In the end, there should be no assumptions in the sale/purchase of a home. Everything of interest or concern should be put into the purchase agreement. Being upfront about what you want and open to a reasonable solution can resolve most issues.