|Have switch covers, will travel?|
Julie Garton-Good, GRI
just moved out of a house we sold and the buyer called screaming that we
shouldn't have taken the fancy light switch covers, the ornate overhead lamps
nor changed the appliance fronts. We didn't think this would matter since we
replaced the items with substitutes (just not quite so expensive). What should
we do now? Do we have any responsibility to make amends with the buyers? (They
say the items we took were easily worth $1,000; we say more like $500.)
on how the purchase agreement and/or listing agreement was worded, you may very
well owe compensation to the buyers. Most agreements would specify "fixtures"
as improvements to the real estate that remain with the property. Personal
property can be listed on a contract "as viewed on April 2, 1998," or
the date the property was last viewed by the buyer. These would include lights,
appliance fronts and switch plate covers. Unless you specified in the purchase
agreement that you would be replacing fixtures in the home with other items,
buyers would assume that the ones they saw would remain.
Put yourself in the buyer's position. If you had just paid a
premium for extras you saw in a home, wouldn't you be upset if they disappeared
before you moved in?
The easiest way to prevent this type of situation from
happening is to remove all fixtures you plan on keeping before the house is put
on the market and replace them with the substitutes. That way potential buyers
won't be expecting to receive items other than what they see and the items won't
be part of any financial negotiation.
To make amends, you could either return the items to the
buyers (and ask for the replacements back), or make a financial settlement
between what the replacement items cost you and the value of the original
fixtures. If you feel they're worth $500, and the buyers feel they're worth
$1,000, why not split the difference at $750? If the buyers decide to take you
to task, it may end up costing you much more than a few fixtures by the time
you're through with the matter.
Seller comes back for
closed on a home several months ago. The seller left behind several portable
sprinklers and watering hoses, but now wants them back.
Are these usually considered real or personal property and don't
they usually go with the home when it's sold?
phrase "left behind" makes it sound like you already know the answer
to your question! Sprinklers and hoses which are not permanently affixed are
typically personal property. And, like the seller's other personal property,
would usually leave with the seller. But since each seller and buyer can
negotiate their own terms and conditions regarding what's left behind and what's
taken, consult your purchase agreement for clarification. Absent any written
agreement, you don't have much of a leg to stand on and would be best advised to
give the items to the seller.