Do Not Unplug the Refrigerator!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with New Orleans Property Lady, LLC

 As homes prices continue to soften I am finding that it is the litttle things that are becoming hugh.  I had a closing this week.  The entire deal from the beginning had been a pleasure.  Showed the property on day three it was on the market. My buyer hesitated a bit but then decided to buy it.  Price was agreed.  Mortgage was gotten with no problem and the buyer passed the board also with no problem.

We get to the final walk through.  The seller had removed furniture and dishes but left three cans of paint in the closet, an ironing board and some old wicker shelving in the closet and he turned the refrigerator off and left the doors closed.  Now, we know that if you unplug a refrigerator and leave the doors closed you will probably have to dispose of the refrigerator, the odor is unbearable.

And this is where the pull is coming now more than ever.  Sellers believe that they have lowered their price significantly and should because of that not be obligated to do anything further.  Buyer's believe they have paid a fair price and are entitled to be treated with respect. 

The listing agent calls the seller and he comes to the apartment and removes the paint.  He puts two boxes of baking soda in the refreigerator and that's that.  However the odor is still pretty unbearable and the buyer doesn't feel that she can use the refrigerator, now what?  She is willing to throw out all the stuff that the seller left even though it was his responsibility to leave the unit empty and clean.  But what about the fridge.  The contract simply says that it has to be in working order.  The seller did not know that you can not unplug or turn off a refrigerator without leaving the doors open.

If you are selling, do not unplug or turn off the refrigerator, please.

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New Orleans Property Lady, LLC

Broker/Owner and REALTOR (r) 

New Orleans, LA 70125

504-908-2268 (C)            

 Licensed in the State of Louisiana, USA

New Orleans Property Lady 


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Nicole Kraus
Signature Realty & Associates - Dover, FL
Ouch....though we don't always live in a perfect world (the electric gets turned off), always make sure to open the doors and rig them so when you leave they don't close.  It really is one of the worst smells?
Oct 06, 2007 12:31 AM #1
Nancy Brenner
Referral Associates of Georgia, Inc. - Roswell, GA
Roswell Georgia Real Estate Agent
I've had to tape up refrigerator doors and put signs up that say "do not open".  Of course, these were in foreclosed houses that had been closed up for months without power.  But ....  eeeewwwww.  gross!
Oct 06, 2007 12:36 AM #2
Robert Huntsinger
Empire Realty - Upland, CA
Empire Realty Upland, CA - Full Service at a Discount

You know we bump into these small things all the time, I once had a Seller which had all of the documentation for all the appliances and original builders marketing compiled for the open houses and potential Buyer's to review.

On the final walk through the Buyer asked for all the papers, the Seller had thrown them out as he "did not need them any more".

I have a list of Seller's responsibilities and niceties that I encouirage my Sellers to read and follow to help make transactions close smoother, I am adding the refigerator to it.

Take care!


Oct 06, 2007 12:39 AM #3
asdf zcxv
Keller Williams Realty - Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Area Real Estate
Word to the wise for sure.
Oct 06, 2007 12:44 AM #4
Christopher Myers
Orlando Property Group - Orlando, FL
Greater Orlando and Central Florida Real Estate

It never amazes me to see how cheap people can be.  It would have cost what?...maybe a couple bucks max. to keep it plugged in until closing???

Oct 06, 2007 12:53 AM #5
Natalie Langford
Realty Negotiations - Winchester, VA
Winchester, VA Real Estate

Great story, hope I never run into it myself! 

RJH, like your list idea.  Sometimes, stating the obvious is necessary.  I might have to add that to my tool box!

Oct 06, 2007 01:05 AM #6
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital
Oh, wow!  I can smell it now!  That sounds a little malicious of the seller.  I'd insist that the seller pay for a  professional cleaning and, if that doesn't work, a new fridge.  And I'd have funds left in escrow to pay for it.  Sometimes a buyer broker has to be a wee bit of a bully, but only when the seller is really bad.
Oct 06, 2007 01:17 AM #7
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO
Miriam, how frustrating.  Avoidable issues over the simple act of unplugging.  Hope it works out for your buyer.
Oct 06, 2007 01:20 AM #8
Sue Barchik
Century 21 Covered Bridges Realty, Inc. - Benton, PA
Broker/Owner, GRI, ABR, ePRO
My sister and bro-in-law, who lived in NC at the time, went on vacation during the summer, and decided to turn the power off in the house...not remembering the refrigerator that was full of food!!!  Obviously they had a really smelly mess when they returned, but they were able to salvage the refrigerator by cleaning it, then putting charcoal in it to absorb the odor (the kind without the lighter fluid in it).  I don't remember how long it took, but I know they were able to keep the refrigerator!
Oct 06, 2007 01:25 AM #9
Miriam Bernstein, CRS
New Orleans Property Lady, LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans and Surrounding Suburbs Real Estate

Christopher - cheap he was, hit the nail on the head.  Amazing.

Sue - it is one when you do it to your refrigerator it is an entirely different thing when you are buying.

Laurie - we closed all is well. A bit bumpy and tres annoying.

Patricia - I suggested an escrow the seller would have no part of it.  The seller cleaned it, the listing agent cleaned it and my buyer decided to buy a new one.  I felt the seller should have contributed.

Robert - I will add it to my mine as well.

Oct 06, 2007 01:36 AM #10
Monica Bourgeau
New Phase Business Coaching - Portland, OR
Business Coaching
Interesting, I never thought about that but it is certainly something to be careful of.
Oct 06, 2007 02:47 AM #11
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate
It is too bad when it gets to the point that buyer and seller are not willing to bend and just get along. I know what you mean about a closed fridge - not pleasant!
Oct 06, 2007 03:52 AM #12
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Miriam Bernstein, CRS

New Orleans and Surrounding Suburbs Real Estate
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