Plasma TV Wars Have A "Bigger Picture"

Real Estate Agent with Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199

The recent debate over on Norma Toering’s post about whether or not a plasma tv attached to the wall is a fixture or not reminds me of a sale I had earlier this year. It all ended well and never degenerated into a “war” but it did bring up some issues that will very likely need clarification in our contracts sooner rather than later!

My seller and I had discussed at time of listing that his audio/video system, which was controlled from a special closet in the Family Room, would likely be a point of discussion or negotiation when the right buyer came along. Not only was the plasma TV mounted on the wall but there was other equipment involved and the complex system controlled entertainment in some of the Bedrooms as well as the Living Room and Kitchen. He was more than willing to consider leaving the system “with the right offer.” Audio Video System installed by Audio Video One

Sure enough, when our best offer arrived, it included the system with a caveat that if the seller would not leave the system, he would repair the damage made by removing it. Fair enough. We asked the buyer’s agent which option the buyer preferred. He preferred keeping the system so we set about negotiating a price for the home that would allow the seller to feel alright about leaving the system in place. We got to a bottom line figure and I conveyed it to the buyer’s agent who called me to say she and her client were having a hard time understanding the figure as her buyer “could go buy a flat screen TV at Best Buy for a few hundred dollars.”

"Yes, he could." I replied, "But that isn’t where the value lies." If you have ever had a complex audio/video system installed in your home, you know that the last issue is how much the TV is worth. I explained that there is a lot of time and expertise involved in selecting compatible components, programming them to work together and then learning how to operate the system. (I addressed this awhile ago in another post.) The buyer’s agent said she was unaware of this and would convey it to her client.

When they came back to us, the contract now included complicated language requesting that the seller agree to repair or replace any defective audio/video equipment found by the “home inspector” at his expense. Okay….except I am not aware that there are any licensed home inspectors out there who would consent to “inspect” a complicated audio/video system much less how we would agree that he/she was “qualified” to do so!

I picked up the phone and called the buyer’s agent and just asked her to share with me what, exactly, the buyer was attempting to accomplish. She said he really wanted the system, especially now that he knew what could be involved in replacing the components, but wanted to be sure that the system really worked “as advertised”!

It was an easy thing to work out once we all understood each other’s point of view! The seller simply agreed to show the agent and the buyer how the system worked during the home inspection and then agreed to come back after the buyer moved in and spend a couple of hours teaching him how to use it!

The deal closed, everyone is happy! But I can absolutely see that as this new technology becomes prevalent in many more homes these issues will need to be addressed! I can foresee professional AV equipment installers, like the one I wrote about in my previous post, who will have a new opportunity for business as an “AV expert” who can provide an opinion about the value and functionality of a system. I’ve seen these systems run into the thousands, even tens of thousands, and there will need to be some accommodations made for “fixtures” with such high value!

As ever, dealing with the issue up front, during the listing appointment, and then asking for the motivation of the parties during negotiations and resolving them creatively, will get you farther down the road than anything else!

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SarahGray Lamm is a licensed, full time, residential real estate professional in the Triangle area of North Carolina with over 100,000 hours of experience. She specializes in serving the real estate needs of home sellers, home buyers and investors in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and Northern Chatham County and is proudly associated with Allen Tate Realtors, the Carolinas #1 independent realty company.

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Comments (15)

Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

You handled this situation with ease by preparing the seller upfront-that is what it takes to make a deal work. Great advice.

Sep 19, 2009 02:55 AM
Lisa Wetzel
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Carson City, NV

Complicated ... You did a good job! 

I wonder if buyers and sellers sometimes lose sight of the real focus in a transaction?

Sep 19, 2009 02:58 AM
SarahGray Lamm
Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 - Chapel Hill, NC
Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience

Thanks Pat! It only takes getting burned once in a career over "grandma's chandelier" to be sure you remember to ask what you think a buyer might ask!

Lisa, yes, I think sometimes they do but in this case I see a bigger problem looming. I, for one, would not want the expense of moving a system or trying to make someone else's set up work with my equipment! Thanks for coming by!

Sep 19, 2009 03:02 AM
Dennis Duvernay Broker/Owner
Hillview Realty - Northbridge, MA

Another good reason why buyers and sellers need an experienced agent....nicely done...

Sep 19, 2009 03:04 AM
SarahGray Lamm
Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 - Chapel Hill, NC
Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience

Dennis - Why thank you!

Sep 19, 2009 03:08 AM
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional


The key point was understanding and addressing the buyers true concerns and you're right ... this is NOT to be glossed over but is becoming a key sales component of the transaction.

Featured in the Group "Whacked!!!"

Sep 19, 2009 03:23 AM
SarahGray Lamm
Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 - Chapel Hill, NC
Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience

Richard, thanks for the Whacked feature! I hope to see this addressed by our "forms" folks sooner than later! In the mean time we all need to simply remember that sometimes it is easier to ask a question about goals than to rant on about fairness!

Sep 19, 2009 03:43 AM
Lee & Carol Barbour, REALTORS
Murphy and Hayesville, NC; Hiawassee, Blairsville, Blue Ridge GA - Murphy, NC
Mountain Living Team in Murphy NC and North GA

Hi SarahGray. I've not had a situation like this come up yet, but I'll be prepared now from your experience. You certainly handled the situation that could have been very complicated, with good communication and negotiating.

Sep 19, 2009 05:04 AM
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

Hi SarahGray ~ It's remarkable how situations like these can become such stumbling blocks.  Kudos to you for getting to the heart of the matter and making things work.


Sep 19, 2009 10:47 AM
SarahGray Lamm
Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 - Chapel Hill, NC
Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience

Lee & Carol, I'm sure you'll see this soon enough with the influx of folks heading to the mountains looking for an awesome vacation or retirement home!

Liz - Too true...I hate to see agents contribute to problems by not asking the right questions!

Sep 19, 2009 11:08 AM
Toronto, ON

SarahGray - You are absolutely right about discussing these types of issues upfront.  As more and more technology is added to houses, buyers and sellers will need to clarify and properly negotiate the inclusion / exclusion of technology related items.

Sep 19, 2009 06:39 PM
Jane Penttinen
V.I.P. Mortgage - Tucson, AZ
NMLS #222178

SarahGray - great way to handle the situation.  As we become more and more technology and gadget dependent this is going to become a much bigger issue.

Sep 20, 2009 02:53 AM
Morris Childs
PEP source - Spartanburg, SC

SarahGray: This is probably going to be an issue that is going to be coming up more and more, you addressed it well.

Sep 20, 2009 07:51 AM
Sandy Childs
Keller Williams Realty - Spartanburg, SC
Realtor - Spartanburg, SC

Hi ther SarahGray: You handled this one well, however this is going to become an issue more and more.

Sep 20, 2009 08:42 AM
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

AWESOME!  I am sure I will encounter this some day.  Right now I am dealing with missing operating systems like air conditioners and pool pumps and stoves.  If I were the buyer I would go after the two autographed footballs showcased too (just kidding)

Sep 26, 2009 06:46 AM