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It’s a Short Sale -- No You Can’t Have the Couch!

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
(805) 878-9879 mobile/text

CalBRE #01871795

Comment balloon 72 commentsTni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D. • June 07 2011 06:44AM


I will be glad when this market is over.  It is difficult for most people to understand difficulty of the short sale client.


Posted by Tim Lorenz, 949 874-2247 (TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team) over 8 years ago

With short sales specifically it is a tricky situation.  I had a deal as a buyers agent where there was a built in gas bbq in the backyard.  It was built in, so in my market it would be considered a fixture and would remain with the house.  The seller decided they wanted to exclude it and then they wanted to sell it to the buyer outside of escrow.  We didn't do it, as that may have been construed as a double contract or frauding the short sale lender, over what, a $200 bbq? 

I know your point was a little different than this, but I think short sales are tricky, and taking the seller's emotions about losing their house and some "stuff" and the short sale lender being inolved to approve all of it it can get messy..

Posted by Kasey & John Boles, Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties (Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - BoiseMeridianRealEstate.com) over 8 years ago

The biggest problem I find with including personal items in a sale comes in the form of confusion for the bank and appraisers who need to separate the value of the home from the personal item(s).

Posted by Cameron Novak, Featured Corona Real Estate Agent Team (The Homefinding Center) over 8 years ago

Tni, it's almost insulting for a buyer in a short sale transaction to ask for anything other than the home and what goes with it.

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 8 years ago

It's not even a matter of want, it's a matter of need. The sellers may need to keep the items or sell them for cash.

Posted by Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) over 8 years ago

This is a difficult market isn't it Tim?  There are a lot of us waiting for better days.

John & Kasey - Yes, I've had odd issues like this come up as well and you have to be clear with short sale sellers what constitutes a fixture and what does not.  Many are upset about losing their house and all the special items that they put into it.  I know one person who lost their home to foreclosure and they had installed a custom gate on the  home.  I noticed it was missing when I sold the home as an REO.  The buyers told me that after they closed the old owner showed up and sold them the same gate.  Unbelievable.

Cameron -  I haven't run into that problem but yes, that could be a big one if the items are substantial and their value is needed to justify the offering price.  

Pam - Many times it is in poor taste, I agree. I haven't run up a situation where I thought it was appropriate.  It's not like a traditional sale and folks need to remember that.

Michelle - Exactly.  Many times they already feel like they are walking out with nothing.  Why ask them to leave their personal belongings too?  You have to remember the context. 

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) over 8 years ago

Some people do not realize the hardships the sellers are facing when it is a short sale or pre foreclosure. I always tell buyers and sellers to discuss furniture for sale after we have an executed agreement of sale.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 8 years ago

Regardless of short or traditional...we have our sellers make a list with prices and also put tage (at the time of inspection) on items so people can see where the blue chair, end table, etc. fit.....and nothing gets written in, the seller profits and everyone lives happily ever after.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 8 years ago

Tni, as a Santa Maria short sale agent it is important for buyers agent to keep the buyers away from the personal items...i tell them i don't sell furniture and they can do a separate addendum with the seller...what a headache it becomes...for me as a North Kingstown short sale agent...i say don't touch it!!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Tni,  So true--I remember passing an exam to sell real estate, no where in those classes was I taught how to sell used furniture! 

Posted by Faith LaRosse, Serving Berks, Chester & Montgomery Counties (Springer Realty Group) over 8 years ago

Don't you just hate when a home sale becomes a furniture sale?  I wonder when that even started to become a part of the mix.

Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (Keller Williams Realty) over 8 years ago

Buyers need to remember there is a flesh and blood family on the other side of that transaction. Often a whole lot of bad news have led them to this short sale. Often it comes years after the sellers have been trying to hold on, pay their bills, save their home and their credit. They are exhausted. Asking for personal stuff for free can be very insensitive and sometimes unkind. It is so much more than just business.

Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) over 8 years ago

Tni- you make a greatpoint here (as usual) I have suggested this post for a feature.  The timing was perfect for me personally- last week a buyer asked for a refrigerator as part of the offer on a short sale; turns out it belonged to the tenant not the seller. Fortunate, because I had advised the buyer in advance that it was personal property and not to get their heart set on it; it was not a deal breaker.

Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) over 8 years ago

I had this happen to one of my clients and they lit up my fuse and I asked the buyer agent to go back to them and show them the meaning of the word courtesy, tactfulness and fairness

They wanted their daughter's bedroom set to stay during negotiations. .

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 8 years ago

I just had an short sale offer where the buyer wanted my clients working table that she had inherited and her bathroom towels but the grand finale was they even asked for the candles in the bathroom!

It gets tricky but I agree with Fernando, "show the buyers the meaning of the words courtesy, tactfulness and fairness".  The buyers today feel that the seller is in a hardship that if they want the sale, then they need to throw in a few of the personals.  That's taking advantage of a situation and again I say "Let's Be FAIR!"

Posted by Barb Van Stensel over 8 years ago

I don't sell furniture, I sell real estate. If they want to buy anything, or if the sellers want to sell, I keep it out of the offer, the attorneys don't want to see it anywhere, and the buyer and seller deal with it directly. You make a great point about short sales though. Something worth remembering!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 8 years ago

Gita - Yes short sale and pre-foreclosures are different aren't they?  The emotions of the sellers are completely different than a traditional sale.  Most want to walk out with their furniture.

Sally & David - That's one way to approach it.  I'm sure your sellers appreciate the advice.  I also try not to get involved with the sale of personal items.

Ginny - I agree aside from the short sale aspect of it - it adds another variable that can be problematic.  What if the personal item gets damaged as the other items are removed from the home?  What if it isn't in as good of condition as the buyer originally thought? Yes, as a Santa Maria short sale agent I prefer to stay away from it.

Faith - That is the truth!  There is a lot of stuff on there but selling furniture isn't covered.

Charita - I do.  I guess it's just human nature because it comes up so often.  And with short sales it can get down right ugly.  Short sale sellers can get REALLY offended by people asking for their personal items because they feel that that is all they have left.

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) over 8 years ago

Anne - On this we agree.  And some buyers simply don't care that they are being rude.  Some think that they are supposed to fully take advantage if someone else's misfortune.  That can backfire in negotiations.

Allison - I've had that happen to me as well where the buyer asks for the tenant's property in a short sale.  Glad you were able to work it out.  Thanks for the suggest!  

Fernando - That is pretty low in my opinion.  People have to understand that short sales are different and emotional -- very emotional.  They haven't opened themselves up for a garage sale because they are selling their home.  To ask for their child's bedroom set when they are forced to sell due to financial hardship is just out of line.

Barb - That is simply outrageous!  Towels and candles?  I've never heard of such a thing!  I would hardly know how to respond other than to say - NO! Ridiculous.  Don't they know where the mall is?

Andrea - I think you took those exact words from my mouth.  I've said the same thing.  If they want separate money for items -- I really don't see how I can broker that.  They have to handle it themselves.  But in a short sale it's not supposed to happen without the lender being aware.

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) over 8 years ago

If personal property is included in the transaction, I'm pretty sure that the appraiser has to include a valuation of that personal property as part of the appraisal.  I think that would complicate things!!!

Pool tables are the most common personal property to trade with homes in the Annapolis Maryland area.  Usually when I encounter a buyer's request for personal property, I ask the buyer and the seller to handle the personal property transaction between themselves, not as part of the Anne Arundel County Maryland real estate transaction.

I'm often asked home buyers in Annapolis Maryland "do you think the seller will sell me the ...".  I usually ask them them to send me an e-mail that I'll forward onto the listing agent for the sellers consideration, and, try to stay out of the deal.

I'll also tell sellers that if they have personal possessions that they want to sell rather than take with them to post notes on the items they want to sell with prices.  They need to have an asking price on the note!  That way buyers know right away if they want to pursue an item or not.

I remind sellers in Annapolis Maryland that they're selling the house first, the stuff second!!!  And I remind buyers when seeing a home, that they're buying the home and not the stuff in it!!!

Posted by Stephen Howell, Annapolis MD Homes For Sale 443-994-8043 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 8 years ago

Thank you for sharing this. This doesn't just happen to Santa Maria Short Sale Agent but to every short sale agent. I always enjoy reading your blog Tni!

Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) over 8 years ago

Tni - OY VEY!!!  What a mess!  As an MLO and not a selling or listing agent writing or accepting offers, I have absolutely no experience with this particular situation.  However, whenever I have heard a client of mine whining about wanting some personal item of the sellers included in the purchase offer, I am compelled to remind them that anytime they include something in the purchase contract as part of the terms and conditions of the sale, they have just invited the underwriter into that particular situation and that term or condition now becomes subject to review and/or approval by the underwriter. 

I find that more times than not, that one comment will generally put things into perspective for them.  Doesn't mean they still won't ask for whatever it is they want, it just means that they won't put it into the contract, which, quite frankly, is exactly the result we were trying to accomplish anyway - right?

On a more personal note, whenever some Realtor/agent (whether they be listing or selling ) complains to me about some buyer insisting on personal items, my comment is always the same, "are you a Realtor/real estate agent or are you a used furniture/appliance salesperson"?  Once again, kind of puts things into perspective.  JMHO

Posted by Donne Knudsen, CalState Realty Services (Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA) over 8 years ago

Hi Tni - Personal property is not a value included in a real estate appraisal report.

Posted by Conrad Allen, Webster, Ma, Realtor (Re/Max Professional Associates) over 8 years ago

Tni, I once asked a buyer’s agent if his client wanted my client’s underwear too. This was after he asked while we were in escrow preparing to close … if the seller would leave the washer, dryer, refrigerator and the mirror above the fireplace. It was a short sale … and the personal property items asked for were not included in the sale.

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) over 8 years ago

Tni - even in a traditional sale it complicates matters with the lender.  They are making a 30 year loan on a property because they expect it to lat 30 years. A refrigerator or a washer and drier are not likely to do that. The appraiser then pretty much has to determine that the property by itself qualifies for the purchase price. The furniture and appliances have to be essentially for free.

Posted by Maya Swamy, Ph.D. Long Beach, CA - fundsavailable.com (Funds Available) over 8 years ago


It really does depend on the situation.  You've touched on it very well here.  One of my recent clients had already promised a frig in her garage to a good friend.  We ended up with multiple offers on her house and one of the buyers was insistent on the frig in the garage.  It really bothered her and we countered it out but this particular buyer ended up being the back up.  I know that really bothered my seller and think she was releaved the other buyer ended up with the better offer.

Posted by DeeDee Riley, Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas (Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA) over 8 years ago
Tni - I try to stay away from "negotiating" for personal property, short sale or not. Appliances, eh, that is kind of standard. But the couch? Nah. They have to work that out on their own.
Posted by Wendy Rulnick, "It's Wendy... It's Sold!" (Rulnick Realty, Inc.) over 8 years ago

You do make a good point about the personal property and I try to explain to clients about exactly this point. Some buyer's agents just don't get it.

Posted by Melissa Zavala, Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County (Broadpoint Properties) over 8 years ago

Not to mention how silly it is to complicate a deal involving hundreds of thousands of dollars with an item worth, a best, a few hundred.

Posted by Ann Bellamy (Hard money lending for investors in NH and MA) over 8 years ago

Tni, in our area, all of the appliances generally convey.  And when they want to talk about furniture, we usually do that outside of the contract for the sale of the home.  And I'm sometimes amazed at what the buyers ask for. 

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Good post about how deals are being negotiated theses days.  I've had, in the recent past, a few transactions where the buyers have "countered" on the sellers counter . . . for personal property.  Buyers offer is countered by sellers and it's reasonable.  The price isn't the issue . . . it's the hot tub, or the refridgerator the buyers DIDN'T include in their original offer.  Now they want to counter the seller's counter WITH the personal property.  In our Sales Agreement, personal property (such as fridge, w/d) are considered personal property of no value.

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 8 years ago


Yes, including/excluding personal property depends on the situation and the short sale is very different from a furnished second home.  Typically I'm the listing agent and I try to stay out of selling personal property whether it's a short sale or non-short sale.  My standard joke is that I don't sell personal property unless I get a commission.  ha ha. 

In my marketplace I've had several elderly sellers who would love to sell their ordinary old stuff and want me to make little "For Sale" signs for each piece of furniture.  I'll do it, but no one, including Goodwill often, wants the ordinary, second-hand stuff.

Posted by Lloyd Binen, Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411 (Certified Realty Services) over 8 years ago

I've just found it easier for all concerned to only raise the issue of personal proprerty items after the real estate issues  been negotiated. And then only if there has beeb no exposed raw nerves.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) over 8 years ago

Hey, Tni!  I included this post in Last Week's Favorites

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Tim, it's so true about asking for things. 8 years ago, we bought our home (not on a short sale). The seller had just purchased a Maytag washer, but had an old dryer that would have to be replaced.

We were renting out our old home to a friend after we moved, and did not want to take the appliances away from him. Well, that Maytag washer was almost the deal killer with the owner's wife because on top of the move and all the expenses we were incurring, we aked that the washer/dryer stay with the house.

Funny how a little thing like that can be such a big sticking point. Would we have walked away from the deal because of a washer? No, but she would have...until her hubby told her she could get a new matched set at their new house. :)


Posted by Barb over 8 years ago


Posted by Barb over 8 years ago

Always a sticky point, and it amazes me how many deals die, or come close to it, over $1000 worth of appliances in a $500,000 house. I resolved one by moving closing to later in the month, so the buyer had to bring less to the closing table for prepaid interest. He used that money to buy the washer/dryer. LOL.

Posted by Tim Bradley, Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY (Contour Investment Properties) over 8 years ago
No harm in asking regardless of whether it is a short sale. It's just a problem when a buyer threatens to kill a purchase over a refrigerator or something. I advise my short sale seller clients in Nashville TN to sell the non-included appliances to the buyer or someone else. Included appliances are given free to the buyer AS IS with no warranties.
Posted by Jim McCormack, Nashville Short Sale REALTOR - Stop Foreclosure (Nashville Short Sale Specialist - Jim McCormack - Edge Advantage Realty, LLC - 615-784-EDGE (3343)) over 8 years ago

Oh the role of the real estate short sale agent.  We are now being reduced to negotiating on items we have no idea how to value.  Good for you for writing this post!  Best of luck to you!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) over 8 years ago

It depends on the personal items the seller wants to include with the property, doesn't it? i can't imagine a buyer being interested in any personal items in a SS transaction, nor can I imagine a SS seller leaving any item with any value.

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 8 years ago

Asking for furniture or personal items on a short sale is the height of lack of sensitivity. I would never let my clients do that. I would probably tell them if they want a used couch go to Goodwill! Fortunately, I don't work with those kind of people, and if someone I was working with insisted on demanding personal property in a short sale offer after I explained the facts of life I think I would fire them on the spot.

Appliances are a different matter. It is common for appliances to transfer here. Usually I write a contract term that the refrigerator, washer and dryer (for example) are transferring at no value and without warranty. In a short sale, I would probably counsel my buyers that it doesn't hurt to ask, and I don't think most sellers are offended by buyers asking for appliances, but don't plan on getting anything that can be remotely construed to be personal property. Great topic!

Oh and P.S. congrats on the Member Spotlight!! Well deserved!

Posted by Linda Humphrey, CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty (Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada) over 8 years ago

Buyers and their agents have to recognize the meaning of distress and the raw emotions of having to give up one's home and starting anew. Although some selllers may look at this asin addition to financial reasons when they can't afford to buy a replacement. an opportunity to pare down, others are going to hang on for emotionaal and financial reasons to what they have left

Posted by Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA (Alain Pinel) over 8 years ago

Indeed, it can be a tricky, Tni. Good post.

Posted by John Michailidis, Real Property Management of Sarasota & M (Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee) over 8 years ago

I would not generally have my buyers ask.  The one cavet being that a frig is needed for FHA financing.  If it came right down to it I would move the old but working fridge from my garage into a home so the buyers could close with FHA.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Tni, repairs are something else that doesn't get much help.  Buyers usually want everything and these short sales don't have much wiggle room.

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX) over 8 years ago

I showed a house to my buyer.  The only thing that was left in the kitchen was the kitchen sink.  I called the listing agent and she told me that the sellers felt that the items they took were paid for by them.  My buyers were not pleased at first until they were able to negotiate with the bank for a lesser amount and additional closing cost. 

Posted by Anonymous over 8 years ago

Kinda makes you want to slap those buyers upside the head and say "Don't be so darn greedy!"

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 8 years ago

I always put any "stuff" on a bill of sale and not in my offer.  And we have a LOT of second homes in my area so I deal with it a lot.  But on a short sale... who would even ask?

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 8 years ago

Tni, how about when they ask me for financing above the sale of the house to cover the personal belongings? Mr. buyer......are you kidding me????

Posted by Ray Waisler, NMLS #6621 - Specializing in Jumbo FHA & VA (Finance of America) over 8 years ago

Seriously, I cannot imagine asking for furniture if it were a short sale transaction unless the seller says something first.  On a regular sale, usually if a seller has things they don't want to move - like a piano or pool table - they will usually throw those in, anyway, as incentive (while we all know they do not want to move them in the first place! LOL)  If handled properly, sure, it can be flattering to the seller to know the buyer loves their taste, but it so depends on the deal.  Great post!

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 8 years ago

The seller's can feel like it is adding insult to injury when buyer's ask for something questionable in the contract.  It can be a very delicate balancing act that requires diplomacy and egoless counsel on the agent's part.  Many times the offers that are received are already below market just because it is a short sale and buyers are reluctant to offer on short sales because of the complexity of the transaction.

Posted by Jerri Schick (ThirdCoastRealEstate.com) over 8 years ago

In Florida if you include a piece of furniture to an exact dollar amount and not 'for the convenience of the seller' the state will want sales tax.  That helps prevent a lot of that 'we want the couch'.

Posted by Kimberly Brandon, Broker/Owner (Smart Moves Real Estate) over 8 years ago

I had a buyer ask for all the furniture to remain in the house.  The seller had already relocated, and the home was staged in the livingroom, dining room, and two bedrooms.  To my surprise, the seller agreed.  If I had known, the seller felt this way, I would have askef for the sofa...

Posted by Karen Steed, Associate Broker Haralson Realty (Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton) over 8 years ago

Good point, Tni.

Perhaps listing agents could fill in the fields in the MLS listing that start with "Listing price includes" and "Listing price excludes" with the details that fit a particular sale. Be it an equity sale, short sale... whatever. In the case of short sales, they might normally use. Listing price excludes all personal property.

Posted by Jeff Hollister, Real Estate Broker, Serving Orange County, CA (Native Californian with 20 years serving OC Buyers & Sellers) over 8 years ago


Personal property is always a no-no for a short sale, but I've had it impede many other deals as well.  Even a direct buyer - seller seperate agreement for furnishings has caused trouble at a closing table.  I advise all my clients not to go there!

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) over 8 years ago

In my market it is common for the seller to take the washer and dryer but the refrigerator usually always stays.  With the short sales I explain to the sellers if they start taking appliances, fans etc...it can create problems with the bank accepting the short sale offer.  I really don't want anything to do with furniture - I have no knowledge whatsoever on selling used furniture. 

Posted by Terry McCarley, REALTOR, SRES, CDPE - Cape Coral, FL (REMAX Realty Team - Cape Coral FL) over 8 years ago

Tni, congrats on the Featured Post!  Good topic and good discussion too.  I'll help "facilitate" a personal property sale as a courtesy to me client (be they the seller or the buyer).  As long as it's handled with tact and diplomacy, and we use the promulgated amendment for personal property, I just see it as part of doing my job a broker of real estate (and sometimes personal property)!  ;-)

Posted by Kent Dills, Real Estate 817-495-8028, Bellingham, Washington (Broker, Dills Real Estate) over 8 years ago

I once submitted an offer on a short sale and although the MLS stated the dishwasher, microwave, stove, etc... would be included, the seller decided he would not leave those items with the house unless the buyer purchased each appliance from him outside of the closing.  The transaction ended up not working out.  I would think the bank needs to know if the seller is selling fixed appliances that belong to the house since the seller really isn't allowed to make money from the transaction in a short sale.  Great topic, especially when it comes to the sale of personal items like a couch or refrigerator.

Posted by Patricia Beck, Colorado Springs Realty (RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE) over 8 years ago

OK, if we can't have the couch can we have the lawn tractor? Since your seller is losing the house and will end up in a 2nd floor apartment, he won't have use for it.

Posted by Leslie Ebersole, I help brokers build businesses they love. (Swanepoel T3 Group) over 8 years ago

TNI, love your posting title :o) This is just one more of the 'emotional issues' in real estate transactions. A buyer with no design ability might walk into a house and decide this is the one; but only just as I see it now. And a seller may decide that I put all these great little touches on my house and I'm taking them with me and I'll just replace them with crap before I go. High end stove- gone Craiglist, here I come. So,one more thing we need to deal with upfront and delicately to reign in seller and buyer expectations, because if you don't then that darn couch can kill the whole deal- whoda thought it??

Posted by Deb Espinoza, GRI, Broker, SRS,ABR ePro, SFR, CNE (Stage Presence Homes, San Diego Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Tni - I think this is a great topic for discussion with both buyers and sellers.  I've seen deals blow apart over these apparently small things.  With short sale sellers, there's not real initiative to "sell" the items with the property.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 8 years ago

Tni - Such a good post this is. Many times I have buyers wanting to have the sellers to 'JUST INCLUDE' all the furnitures since they feel they are doing sellers a favor by taking all of their stuff to save them from moving it. I always say, the movers are coming regardless if it is one box or ten boxes. If any furnitures they want to buy, it is completely separate from the contract of sale of the condo not to mention we can't comp out a couch or antique table...!

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 8 years ago


I think buyers think these people are so desparate they will agree to anything in a short sale.  That is a great point that they are starting over and need everything they have left!


Posted by Jennifer Manchester, GRI, ePRO, ASP - Broker/Home Stager (Suburban Properties of Charlotte, LLC ) over 8 years ago

Tni ... Thanks for this post about whether buyers should ask for the washer and dryer to be included in the deal and special tricky stuff with short sales.  This reminds me to get back to a short sale offer and get that cleared up.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, REALTOR , GRI, Broker associate, Attorney (HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty) over 8 years ago
We really hate it when buyers complicate a sale with personal property. It's a sticky wicket.
Posted by Linda Graves Arnold, St. Louis Real Estate Pro - 314-422-2762 - Referr (Coldwell Banker Gundaker-St. Louis, MO) over 8 years ago

Stephen - Sellers and buyers do often get caught up in wanting to buy or sell stuff.  I like your approach of letting them tag the items with a price tag -- I think that is a good approach.  You hate to see people haggling over a $300 couch when they are trying to buy or sell a $300,000 house.

Thanks Katerina - yes, I think all short sale agents have experienced this!

Donne - Yes my view is that it is totally outside of my expertise unless it is just tossed in for free and if it wasn't offered for sale with the home it may not be my place to negotiate it.

Conrad - I agree.

Kathleen - Yes, I like that line.  Sometimes you just have to drive the point home especially in a short sale.

Dr. Maya - I agree, unless they are tossed in it can start to get real complicated, real fast. 

DeeDee - Thank you, yes, and it does really bother sellers, especially short sale sellers who feel like all they are leaving with is their personal possessions.  When you ask them to leave them it is like asking them to give more to the bank.

Wendy - Here fixed appliances stay, but the fridge, washer and dryer are a toss up.  Some people don't want to move them or have them lined up were they are going.  I find that most short sellers want their appliances.

Melissa - No they don't!

Ann - That's what I'm saying!

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) over 8 years ago

Pat - Yes, I bought my first piece of property in VA and I was shocked that the washer and dryer were included.  It would have been a lot of trouble getting them out of the basement though I suppose but it struck my CA sensibilities as being very odd.

Carla - Now that is just nuts.  I haven't had that happen before.  That is even worse than just asking for it up front.  If the seller is inviting it -- that is one thing -- but if not, please leave their furniture out of the deal. More than likely someone is going to end up offended and it interferes with the sale, especially in a short sale.

Lloyd - Wow that's like having a second business running estate sales.  People get paid for that you know! LOL.  They also get paid to get things ready for the Goodwill truck. LOL.

Wayne - I think that is a very good way to approach it.

Thanks for the feature Pat!

Barb - Yes, that is a big part of my point  It is absurd to move these small issues front and center.  Sellers that want to sell items should have a yard sale, and buyers that want to buy items should go to that yard sale.

Tim - You sound like a problem solver!  For the buyer that was worth it, but for the seller it may not have been worth waiting a month.  But hey these ARE emotional issues.

Jim - I do think there is some harm in asking. In a short sale the seller doesn't have much control overall but they can control what offer they accept and present to the bank.  Why tick them off over a washer?

Thanks Jan - So true- the things we do to keep things together for clients.

Kimo - It happens all the time.  I'd hate to think it's human nature to take advantage of those down on their luck but it sure seems to be part of human nature at the least.

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) over 8 years ago

Linda - I too think it can show an extreme insensitivity, after all the sellers are hanging a sign out front indicating that there is financial hardship.  Out here, the fridge, washer and dryer are typically retained and not provided in a rental either so the seller will often need them when they move.

Pacita - That's exactly right, there are raw emotions going on here.  And sellers in financial distress can rarely go out and purchase new appliances for their new rental and sometimes even if they could they will hang on for emotional reasons.  

Thanks for stopping by John @ Saramana.

Gene - Wow that just shows you the regional differences.  A fridge isn't needed here for FHA.  A working stove is but not a fridge.  I sell homes without fridges to FHA buyers routinely.

Kay - Very true getting sellers who are losing thousands of dollars in a down payment to pour more money into the home is a difficult if not impossible task.

Marte - LOL. Yes, and a few other things sometimes.

Tammy - You'd be surprised.  People seem to have no sense of the situation.  I can't believe some agents act like it is a traditional sale!

Wow Ray - Now I've never had that one run by me!

Thanks Susan and I agree it depends on the deal.  I tell my buyers this is a short sale so the sellers are not usually THAT happy about showing or selling their home.  It is surprising to see how many agents aren't telling their clients the same thing.

Jerri - Yes, insult to injury is exactly how many short sale sellers take it!

Kimberly - Yes, I think sales tax is also an important consideration in CA and I don't handle that.  So, I don't feel I should handle the sale of furniture and other personal items.

Karen - Was that a short sale?  Doesn't sound like one!

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) over 8 years ago

Jeff - Filling out the MLS completely is a whole other post -- LOL.  I could talk about that for days.  That and actually reading it.  Or how about not filling it full of spam on your REO listings.

Irene - I think that is good advice.  Just go to the store, not the seller!

Terry - Very true, now that can be a problem on the other end. Sellers taking things out of the home.  I have to counsel about that as well.  But the items that are normally taken are definitely taken by most short sale sellers.  They typically don't want to leave anything!

Thanks Kent - You are so nice to do that for your clients.  I hope your luck stays constant on this issue.  My experience is that personal property can be a mess unless there is a willingness to toss it in for free from the beginning.

Patricia Beck - Yes, that has been my experience as well.  When people start asking for personal items things can go south real fast -- especially on a short sale.

Leslie - LOL -- Now that one might work.  But the level of insensitivity I've witnessed is just amazing.

Debbie - I know I don't understand why a couch or fridge can kill a deal but it happens.  It seems to me that agents should be even more sensitive on a short sale.

Christine - Exactly.  That's been my experience as well.  Short sale sellers want their stuff.

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) over 8 years ago

Thanks Eileen - The issue seems to come up time and time again.  I don't know why it becomes so important to have other people's stuff.  Especially on a short sale I think it is important to leave those requests out.  Part of writing a good offer is knowing what the seller wants.

Jennifer - I think many people will but if they don't have the money to buy a new fridge they are not going to want to leave it in the home when they will need one for their rental!

Harrison - Glad you remembered!  LOL.

Jim & Linda - It sure is!


Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) over 8 years ago

It is ordinary to include the appliances for a regular sale. Short Sales become a different story since the seller is trying to keep what they have left, even if it is to sell it later. Are you really that in need of furniture?

Posted by Gerard Gilbers, Your Marketing Master (Higher Authority Markeing) about 8 years ago

Okay, but in a sale that *isn't* a short sale or a foreclosure, is it rude to ask the sellers if they'd be interested in including or selling seperately an item or two?  Or even just to ask them if given the chance where they got their items?  I'm looking at a house, and I absolutely love the taste of the sellers, and would love it if they wanted to sell me a couple of their items - and they're moving across the country, so I'd think it might be an option.  But I have no clue what those items are worth, so I hesitate to either offer them a lot more than they're worth and find out I did something stupid later on, or offer way less than they're worth and make them angry.  Is it better just to not ask?  Or maybe compliment them on their style and hope that maybe something opens up that way?

Posted by Tilly about 8 years ago

I'm short selling my home and offer is in against what bank wants as we speak...my home was included in my bankruptcy so I believe short selling is only benefiting the bank and Realtor since I make nothing and didn't expect to on the property, and I am maintaining home till sale or what's next happens. However I purchased washer and dryer and refrigerator (this less than year ago) and I am leaving a second barely used stove (and of course primary one) and a second fridge that needs slight repairs. I intend to sell my washer dryer and new fridge before sale. They were not included in listing. I feel that since I didn't get them when I purchased home and had to buy them myself, why give them to the bank technically? I could use the money or the items wherever I I go, however from reading this thread, a thought I had of giving buyers first dibs since items are here (if I don't need them), seems to be a no no...Can the bank perceive this as profit? Should I just sell them on my own prior?

Posted by BC core over 5 years ago