Hot Buttons in Residential Contracts to Be Aware of!

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 17 September 2013 11:48

As long as I have been selling real estate, I’m always amazed how few agents understand what our contracts say (and mean) regarding certain topics. Texas contracts are different than other states so I’m not sure these items will apply to other areas...

There are 3 areas of confusion that ALWAYS come up once a property is already under contract and they usually erupt right before closing and possession. They have to do with “what remains with the property”...I’ve seen deals blow up over these minor points...

1) Powder room mirrors….do they stay? The contract reads that “permanently installed” items remain. Unless powder room mirrors are glued on, built in, or framed out with matching trim or permanently affixed, they do not remain with the property. Decorative mirrors on nail hooks do not remain. If there is a question of uncertainty, the seller should exclude them from the sale under “exclusions” or remove them before marketing the home. I usually tell sellers that powder room mirrors should stay because one needs a mirror there, but they are not obligated to let it stay, but in Texas, it’s the neighborly thing to do. If it’s an heirloom, replace it with a less expensive one before listing the home.

2) TV’s and they stay? I recently had a transaction where the seller emphatically was not going to leave the brackets….it was around a $2M home and I believe the brackets cost around $200 each….my seller just didn’t want to leave them and was ready NOT to sell the house because of them….Really?!!! Of course we did sell and the brackets remained. Only if a seller excludes the brackets, would they not stay…but be mindful that you would then need to address the issue of the huge holes in the wall left from the removal of the brackets. The TV’s don’t remain because they are not attached to the wall, just the brackets. When representing a seller, once we receive an offer, I always make it a practice to read the items that remain with the property at the beginning of each negotiation and I always call out the TV’s and brackets, but the main focus usually is on price and not small items like brackets at the beginning of negotiations and sellers usually never remember those smaller details.

3) Fireplace screens….do they stay? Yes!…and I’m not just talking about the permanently affixed ones….If you read 2C of the Texas contract (Accessories), it clearly states that fireplace screens remain. This one is almost always a point of contention between a buyer and seller. Free standing fireplace screens can be very expensive so I suggest to you, remind your sellers that if they want to keep that fancy Jan Barboglio, hand forged screen, they need to remove it before listing the home or they will be leaving it for the buyer (unless it’s excluded from the sale).

There are many other hot button items in our contracts, but these three seem to always come up. Our contracts are changing constantly, so if it’s been a few years since you have sold a house, ask your Realtor to clarify what items remain and what you get to take….it’s a revolving door and sometimes agents are not on top of the changes.

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