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They Took What?! The Strangest Things Home Sellers Have Removed—and What Buyers Can Do

July 11, 2019

When Diana Abu-Jaber moved into her Miami home, she expected to find everything she had seen when she made her offer to purchase. Instead, she discovered that the previous owners had left her in the dark. Literally.

“The sellers took the lightbulbs,” she recalls. “They also took the batteries from the smoke detector, the knobs from the bathroom faucet, the curtains, and all the toilet paper. They even pried a clock out of the wall.”

Abu-Jaber isn’t the only new homeowner to find strange things taken from the properties they have just moved into. On various social media sites, buyers have reported missing closet rods, door stoppers, and shower heads.

Should home sellers be allowed to take these things with them when they move? We got the lowdown—and what you should do if it happens to you.

Figure out whether the items are theirs or yours

First, you should understand the difference between fixtures and personal property. Fixtures are items physically affixed to a property and therefore automatically included in the purchase agreement (unless otherwise excluded in the property listing). Chattels or personal property include anything movable, says Rona Fischman, a Realtor® and principal broker at 4 Buyer’s Real Estate in Cambridge, MA.

Buyers are legally entitled to receive all of the home fixtures as they appeared when the offer to purchase was made—so if a funky entryway light was there when you visited the house, it should still be there when you move in (unless you’ve negotiated otherwise).

“We’re really, really fussy: We actually write all that stuff out, because there are many things in that gray area between personal items and real estate,” explains Fischman, who works exclusively as a buyer’s agent. “The classic one is drapery: That’s chattel, but the brackets are fixtures, so decide in advance who’s getting the set.”

Be very specific about what stays and what goes so there are no misunderstandings.

“When buyers are ready to make an offer, we’ll ask, ‘Is there anything in that gray area that, if it was gone, you’d be unhappy about?’” she says. “And then we add it onto the offer.”

What to do if sellers take things anyway

If a bunch of things have mysteriously gone MIA, buyers do have some recourse, says Andrea Duane, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in El Dorado Hills, CA.

She’s also experienced surprises during walk-throughs with clients.

“Once, we noticed all the kitchen cabinet hardware and drawer pulls had been removed,” she says. “The sellers wanted to bring everything to their next place, but you can’t do that. We went right back to the seller’s agent and said, ‘Your client did this. It wasn’t disclosed and these things were bolted and attached to the property—they need to be put back because they are permanent fixtures of the house.”

Monica Kemp thought she had come to terms with a seller who had mentioned she was taking the dining room chandelier.

“We were fine with that. However, once we closed, we got to our new house and saw she had not only taken the chandelier, but she didn’t replace it with anything—we just had wires hanging out of the ceiling,” recalls Kemp, who purchased that house before she became a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Leesburg, VA.

“Now, because of my experience,” she says, “I know to include that if anyone is specifying they’re taking something, they have to make sure it’s replaced.”

In Abu-Jaber’s case, the sellers were getting divorced, and she opted to cut them some slack.

“It was a tough situation that made me so sad for them, so we didn’t ask for any of the items back, but we also ended up putting that house back on the market really quickly,” she says. “The fit was never quite right; we always felt a little unwelcome—it was bad juju.”

Beware: Sellers might remove items out of spite

Why on Earth would sellers bother to remove toilet paper holders, doorknobs, or switch plates? Fischman says such actions could indicate an underlying issue.

“When that kind of thing happens, it usually means you had a bad deal; somebody thinks they’ve been ripped off,” she says.

To avoid a sour situation, be proactive: Take photos during visits, describe all inclusions in the offer to purchase, and be respectful and reasonable during the negotiating process, Fischman adds.

And, while most closings happen without a hitch, it’s always a good idea to do one or two walk-throughs with your agent just to be sure everything’s in order.

Abu-Jaber, who’s moved several times, has learned a few things along the way.

“Usually, people are pretty reasonable and don’t strip the house bare—mine was an unusual experience and I wouldn’t suggest making yourself nuts trying to itemize every detail,” she says.

Plus, if you negotiate with the sellers, you could end up with some pretty rad finds. Abu-Jaber, in fact, has bought and sold all sorts of furnishings with their home purchases.

“If you get to know your sellers a bit, you can get some great deals, too,” she says. “We bought our much-loved dining room table for $25 from our seller.”

The post They Took What?! The Strangest Things Home Sellers Have Removed—and What Buyers Can Do appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Should You Sell Your Home Furnished? How It Could Help—or Hurt—the Deal

July 10, 2019

Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

One of the hardest parts about selling your home is the hassle of moving all of your furniture out before a new buyer moves in. Sometimes it might seem easier to just leave everything behind, walk away carefree, and buy new stuff—especially if you’re not particularly attached to your furnishings in the first place.

Well, as it turns out—you can do just that. But should you?

We’re not gonna lie: It can be a tricky line to toe. Selling your home furnished could increase your home’s value—or it could actually cause it to plummet. In fact, your furniture could be the reason your home flies off the market, or lingers indefinitely.

To help ensure you’re making the best decision for your bottom line, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about selling a furnished home.

What are the benefits of selling a furnished home?

In many cases, selling a furnished home can be mutually beneficial for you and the buyer. Not only can it make the entire moving process easier for both of you, but it can also help prospective buyers envision the property as a livable home.

“Selling a furnished home can sometimes maximize the value and, if furnished well, can act as a no-cost staging of the home to help the home sell faster,” says Elizabeth Kee, a licensed associate real estate broker at CORE.

Plus, if a buyer is moving into a new town and doesn’t want to spend the time decorating her new place, a furnished space can be a selling point.

What are the disadvantages of selling a furnished home?

Of course, while you might love all of the pieces in your home, potential buyers might not.

“Oftentimes, furnishings can deter a purchaser, as tastes vary greatly and undesirable furnishings can turn off buyers—especially if the buyers are burdened with the task of removing unwanted furnishings after closing,” Kee says.

That also means that your furniture could very well delay how long your listing is on the market, says Jaime Watts, a Realtor® at Compass.

And before you decide whether to sell your home furnished, consider what kind of home you’re selling, and where it’s located.

“Resort and vacation rental areas usually sell properties furnished, and it doesn’t affect the time on the market since most people are looking to lease it out right away to a short-term tenant,” Watts says. “Luxury high-end homes with custom designer furniture can also help sweeten the deal for a buyer.”

Do keep in mind, though: Regardless of whether it’s a vacation home or suburban space, furnished homes will typically narrow your candidate pool.

How will selling my home furnished affect my asking price?

In some situations, great furniture can improve the value of your home. But for simplicity’s sake, you won’t want to factor in your furniture when settling on your list price.

“Since there are no real comparable sales for [furnished homes], it can be difficult to negotiate,” explains Johannes Steinbeck, a Realtor at Compass in Los Angeles and Orange County. “It really depends on the quality and value of the furniture.”

“In all of the furnished sales I have done, we negotiated the price of the furnishings separate from the sales price,” Watts adds. “Once we agreed on the price of the furnishings, we included a bill of sale with the purchase contract that was handled through escrow.”

Is my furniture good enough to attract buyers?

Maybe you think the fact that you’re throwing in your replica leg lamp from “A Christmas Story” should have buyers lining up at your door. Or maybe you can’t imagine someone not wanting the 18th-century armoire that would fetch a pretty penny at auction.

But before you start dreaming about all of the dollar signs, consult with your real estate agent.

“Any good real estate professional will help you to be able to determine if selling your home furnished is a good strategy in your market,” Kee says, “and what furnishings should stay, go, or be supplemented.”

The post Should You Sell Your Home Furnished? How It Could Help—or Hurt—the Deal appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.