How to deal with missing fixtures: Episode #370

Todd explains what happens when fixtures are missing in a house.

Hello. Welcome to Todd Miller TV. Quick update today about taking fixtures from houses.

So let’s say the situation is, is you live in a house. You’re selling it and that ceiling fan or some fixture in the house is a special item. It was a gift. It’s not staying with the house. You’re going to replace it with something. Maybe not the same thing. How do you handle that?

Well, it’s very simple. You get it in writing. Now, meaning you have agreed to ahead of time that the item is leaving the house and it’s something that will either be put in of comparable value or that won’t be put in. It will be left empty.

Here’s a good example. I had a client who had a Nest Thermostat. Those are the round really cool-looking. You can remote control them from your iPhone, wherever you are.

They’re expensive. They’re $250. The normal thermostat you can get for 150 bucks. So it was made very clear to the buyer. This is one of my listings. The Nest Thermostat, we wrote it in the contract. Nest Thermostat does not stay with property.

So what we did was right before closing, we removed the Nest. So he could take it with him and put back the old one, the regular one that was in the house before. So we just made sure everyone knew in writing.

I have seen things like bookcases that look like they’re attached but they’re just sitting on the floor People thought, oh, I thought they were built-in. No, they were just sitting on the floor. They’re personal property. They’re not fixtures.

Ceiling fans, other types of pendant light fixtures that are specialties. Curtains, I’ve seen very expensive curtains in-house where the people have said, “Oh no, we’re taking those.”

So just to make it very clear to your agent, whatever item that you’re not sure of, ask. Hey, is this – do I have to declare this? I’m taking it with me. You can’t take the stove or the built-in microwave and the dishwasher and say, “Well, I paid for those. They don’t come with the house.” They’re fixtures.

The clothes washer, the clothes dryer and the refrigerator, unless it’s built-in, tend to be personal property if they’re just sitting on the ground plugged into the wall.

So be very clear about what stays. Get it all in writing. That way you don’t have a surprising close of escrow or you show up at the house to move in and things are different than the way you saw them.

The last thing is let’s say right before you close, something breaks. You’re moving things around the house and you break a chandelier. You say, “Oh, there’s supposed to be a chandelier here.” So you put a new one up.

The best thing to do is get it in writing. Disclose it that it’s broken and then get that buyer to pick a comparable priced one and say, “Hey, look. I’m going to put a new one in. Why don’t you go pick the one you want? I will credit you the money or I will buy it and install it.”

But make that very clear. But what you don’t want to have happen is somebody would show up in a house and go, “Why is this super cheap light fixture here?” Well, the other one broke so I just bought a new one and put in there. Yeah, but that’s a $20 one and the one you had up there was a $200 one.

So anything that changes, make sure you have that in writing. It’s very clear to everybody, the changes in the house. It just makes things so much easier because what typically happens is the money spent fighting these things in court plus the emotional energy spent in dealing with a couple of hundred dollars worth of change in value of the house is not worth it for anybody. It’s not worth it for you if you’re a buyer or a seller. It’s not worth it for an agent. So things like the garage door remote is missing or I had to rekey the house because you didn’t leave the keys, things like that. Make it all very clear what’s staying and what’s not staying. OK?

So that’s my update for today and hope to see you on another video. Thanks.