It’s a Short Sale -- No You Can’t Have the Couch!
Including personal belongings in an offer to purchase can be a tricky. I think there are two camps on the issue. Agents that encourage clients to ask for things to be thrown into their offer (Why not?), and those that discourage it (Don’t do it!). Personally, I would say it depends. If the home is a second home, the owners may not even want the furniture in the home. Or, if it is an estate sale, the heirs may be relieved to not have to include additional items in a subsequent yard or garage sale. However, when the home is a primary residence and you are asking sellers for their own personal things that were not advertised as a part of the sale -- things can get complicated. And, even more so when it is a short sale.
In my area, home sellers usually take their refrigerator and their washer and dryer. However, I can’t tell you how many times a buyer spying a beautiful new refrigerator or shiny front loading washer and dryer set has thrown those appliances into the middle of a real estate negotiation. Additionally, on the subject of furniture, I always feel a bit awkward advising because there was absolutely nothing on the real estate exam that prepared me to sell a dining room table. And, of course, if a buyer turns to me and asks for comps for that couch -- the truth is -- I just don’t have any.
On the buyer side, the real problem with asking for “things” that the seller may or may not want to sell is that you very well could blow the deal over that Whirlpool Dryer. As real estate agents, we’ve all seen that happen. You may ask the seller for something that means a lot to them, then another offer rolls through the door that doesn’t ask for Aunt Beulla’s beloved bureau and bingo they like that buyer more than they like you. On the seller’s side, you may not want to kill a deal over a fridge, but you may feel like the buyer is being “grabby” with your stuff. After all, you advertised a home for sale, not your bedroom furniture.
These difficulties become magnified in a short sale situation where the seller is taking a financial loss and will most often receive nothing from the sale of the home. The short sale lender will have to acknowledge or approve the sale of any personal items to the buyer to make sure that the seller is not unfairly profiting from the short sale. There can be no secret side deals where the seller makes a killing on a set of bookcases while agreeing to short sell you their home for a nickel. So, even if the seller wants to sell the buyer personal items, it is often easier for them to sell them to anyone other than the buyer. And, my experience as a Santa Maria Short Sale Agent has been that in a short sale situation, the short sale seller doesn’t want to sell their personal items. Because financial hardship is the driving force behind a short sale, it is it important for buyers to understand that people who are starting over financially usually want to keep their furniture and appliances.
So, no you can’t have the couch.
Tni LeBlanc is an independent Real Estate Broker, Attorney, and Short Sale Agent. She is a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) and Certified HAFA Specialist (CHS) serving the Santa Maria, Orcutt and Five Cities area of the Central Coast of California.
* Nothing in this article is intended to solicit listings currently under contract with another broker. This article offers no legal or tax advice. Those considering a short sale are advised to consult with their own attorney for legal advice, and their tax professional for tax advice prior to entering into a short sale listing agreement. Mint Properties is not associated with the government, and our service is not approved by the government or your lender. Even if you accept this offer and use our service, your lender may not agree to change your loan. If you stop paying your mortgage, you could lose your home and damage your credit rating.
Copyright© 2011 Tni LeBlanc *It’s a Short Sale -- No You Can’t Have the Couch!*
Tni LeBlanc, Broker
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