Top Seller Mistakes - Exclusions

By
Real Estate Agent with Fab Real Estate

I've discussed various mistakes sellers can make when selling their home.  This is a favorite topic of mine, because I've found that when sellers and their REALTOR are willing to work together as a team, these issues can all be avoided.  All issues should be discussed up front and put to rest early, so we can move on the the final goal:  Selling your home.

Previous seller mistakes I've written about include overpricing, negligent housekeeping and failing to make repairs.

The next item of Top Seller Mistakes is making Exclusions to the sale of your home.

Exclusions could be something like:

  • Dining room chandelier not included
  • All window coverings to remain with seller
  • Built-in desks and cabinetry in office do not transfer

But, here's the problem:  Potential buyers are looking at your house.  They notice the beautiful antique chandelier hanging in the entry foyer.  They love your house, and that chandelier is an added bonus, as it fits so well.  These buyers write an offer, which you counter.  You accept all their terms and their price, but you state "Entry chandelier not included in the sale."

With that one statement, you have potentially disappointed these buyers, who love the house and can't wait to call it their own.  But, now they're disappointed.  They can get upset.  Since buying a home is truly an emotional experience, this simple issue can sour them on the home altogether. Causing you to lose the sale.

Sound extreme?  It is.  But it happens.  And sometimes it happens over the silliest of items.

As a home seller, your REALTOR should prepare you to prevent issues such as this.

Want to keep that chandelier your grandmother gave to you many years ago?  Fine.  Take it down now, put it into storage and replace it with a new light fixture.  Do you love your draperies so much that you must absolutely take them to your next home?  Even if they may or may not fit your new windows?  No problem.  Replace them all before you home goes on the market.

As far as wanting to remove the built-in desks and cabinetry example listed above?  Well, the buyers and their REALTOR will have to wonder what condition that room will be in once you remove those items. Will there be holes in the walls?  Will they repaint?  Will the floors get damaged?  Take care of this before buyers start viewing your home!

It can be said over and over again:  Buying and selling a home is an emotional process for all parties involved.  Take away any potential items of conflict so you can focus on the transaction with less heartache and stress.

And if the buyer really absolutely must have that spare, dented refrigerator you keep in the garage?  Consider giving it to them.  It's a great gesture of good will, and it's cheaper than losing the sale and having to continue with the hassles and expense of marketing your home for sale.

 

Comments (43)

Randy L. Prothero
eXp Realty - Mililani, HI
Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645
The one that kills me is when they take a major appliance with them.  Buy a new one!
Jan 02, 2007 05:26 PM
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection
Good post, I recently listed a property and had to cover these points with the homeowner, I was happy to see my advise was heeded and the items removed prior to the first showing.
Jan 02, 2007 09:04 PM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS
Refrigerators and washers and dryers are easy, because they can be monetized - if they're excluded, there's no need to remove them. Anything with uniqueness or emotional value, such as the chandelier, your grandmother's lace curtains, etc. should be removed before showing. Our most unusual exclusion (which wasn't replaced prior to showing) was a front door, which I blogged about last summer.
Jan 02, 2007 10:28 PM
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate

Jeff - I find that the washer, dryer and refrigerator tend to be the items that sellers decide at the last minute that they want to keep.  I don't understand the refrigerator - chances are it won't even fit properly in their new kitchen.  In reality, these are inexpensive items compared to the price being paid for their home.  I know they're not fixtures and aren't generally included, but it is a nice gesture to include them, especially if you're selling to first-time home buyers.

Joan - The furniture the buyers want is usually something given to the sellers by their late grandmother.  Sellers are either shocked that the buyer would be sol bold as to ask for something so personal, or thrilled that they will have one less item to move!

Jim - Yes, some of our colleagues need help learning what a fixture is.  And they need help explaining this to their clients.

William - Exactly.  Starting to list exclusions has the affect on the buyers of making them suddenly feel they are getting "less" than they bargained for.

Jan 02, 2007 11:46 PM
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate

Randy - Have you ever had a seller demand to take their refrigerator?  Ask them why.  I've heard, "because it's my first stainless steel refrigerator ever and I want to keep it."  So I ask, "Will it fit in your new home 3,000 miles away?"  Without fail, the answer is, "I don't know."  It would probably be cheaper in the long run to buy a new, probably more energy-efficient refrigerator than paying to move your current one!

Jennifer - Congratulations on having the will and the skill to educate your sellers to make the sale a smoother one for them!  More agents need to be willing to educate their clients.

Sharon - I've never heard of a seller wanting to keep their front door.  Thanks for sharing that one.

Jan 02, 2007 11:52 PM
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate
Caron - Thanks for sharing your experience.  The listing agent should have explained to the seller about what is included in the sale of their home. It would have saved you and your buyers some stress.
Jan 03, 2007 12:21 AM
Michael Roberts
Real Estate Professionals of Glynn - Saint Simons Island, GA
I've always felt that when you excluded something from the sale that it should be removed and I have advised my clients to do so.  My reason has been that if Any buyer sees something that they want, they will ask.  So why give them the opportunity to ask for something that is a potential problem.  I had an agent a month ago nearly lost a deal over an $89  green painted bench that sat outside and could be bought at any Lowes or Home Depot.  Seller didn't wnat to give it up becuase her Divorced Husband had given it to her.  So we asked the buyer if a duplicate of the bench would work.  They said yes, the house got sold and everyone got what they wanted all for the cost of $89 which the buyers and Sellers agent split the cost on....  But it was amazing to me that the Seller was willing to lose the deal over an old nappy looking bench that wasn't rare, an antique or even attractive... It was nothing more thatn an OLD BENCH.... PEOPLE GEEZ!
Jan 03, 2007 01:01 AM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

I see your point Michael Roberts, but a bench is personal property.

When a buyer gets overly attached to the idea that a piece of the sellers personal property has to stay with the house it reminds me of kids when they look at the kids rooms or the play room and their eyes light up because they think this is a great house, let's buy this one...  and "Mom"  hopefully tells them that the toys do not stay and not to touch them so the agent does not have to be the meany. 

With our contract, buyers who get so bent on a piece of personal property staying that the agents have to pay for a piece of the sellers personal property are acting like they are under the age of 7, IMHO.  And have not read the contract if it happens at closing. I wondered if the negotiations for the green bench happened at the time of negotiating the contract or when the property was closing...  

Do sellers need to strip the house of personal property so they are not held up by immature buyers? There goes the whole staging industry. 

Jan 03, 2007 01:29 AM
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate

Michael - Great personal story.  Thanks for sharing.

Maureen - You're right.  That bench was personal property, not included in the sale unless otherwise agreed upon in the contract.

But this brings up a good point:  How much should sellers remove from the home?  Obviously, if the seller is living in the home while marketing it for sale, they cannot remove all their personal belongings.  And from a marketing standpoint, it may make more sense to leave your belongings to make the home look "homey" rather than vacant and blank.  But, if something is of such sentimental value, or is that important to you for any reason, then pack it away and put it into storage before the home goes on the market.  Not only does this eliminate the risk of the buyer wanting that item, but it also eliminates the risk of that item being accidentally damaged.

Jan 03, 2007 01:41 AM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Don wrtote: "But this brings up a good point:  How much should sellers remove from the home?  Obviously, if the seller is living in the home while marketing it for sale, they cannot remove all their personal belongings.  And from a marketing standpoint, it may make more sense to leave your belongings to make the home look "homey" rather than vacant and blank.  But, if something is of such sentimental value, or is that important to you for any reason, then pack it away and put it into storage before the home goes on the market.  Not only does this eliminate the risk of the buyer wanting that item, but it also eliminates the risk of that item being accidentally damaged."

Works for antiques, collectables,  but necessarily for items with sentimental value since most people are not going to think that a buyer is going to ask for things like an old green bench.  If it's just an old green bench anyone can buy at Lowes or Home Depot and why would a buyer want that?

I had a seller in Columbus who got married to a fella in Dayton, they moved half way between.  I think she put the story in a comment on my other blog... or maybe it was just in an email to me.  They had buyers on his house who asked for the washer and the dryer in the contract... if that works for the seller fine..... I guess it did in this case... but the confounding thing was the box of laundry detergent?  Should this seller have removed the open laundry detergent from the house?  This couple has some pet names for that buyer...    

Jan 03, 2007 01:53 AM
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate

Maureen - But it sounds like that green bench meant something to the seller.  If that was the case, then storing it away prevented it both from being wanted by the  buyers and from being accidentally damaged.  Granted, fighting over an inexpensive bench is silly, but it's another example of what can happen, and what we can prepare our clients for.

Now, a box of soap?  Seriously?

 

Jan 03, 2007 02:29 AM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

I don't think people routinely categorize the THINGS in their life as sentimental or non sentimental... especially when it is something sitting out in the weather.

 

Luckily the seller in Dayton was not attached to the box of detergent.....

Jan 03, 2007 02:43 AM
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate

Maureen - You're right in that people don't always categorize their "stuff" as valuable or sentimental.  But if we as their agents suggest they do so, it can prevent the buyers from then asking for something the sellers aren't willing to give up.

I'm still aghast over the laundry detergent...

Jan 03, 2007 03:20 AM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate
comment transplant Don Wrote elsewhere:

"Maureen, Maureen, Maureen...

You make me laugh!  I'm going to have to send you a bench for your birthday.  I'm thinking of this bench, even though it's not green. You could always paint it and use it to stage your next listing.

Think of it this way: the seller must keep their bench.  They love it.  But when they remove it from the front porch, the porch then looks barren.  So, buy a new, inexpensive bench to replace it.  It helps the home look more inviting, thus more appealing to buyers.  By the sellers spending a few dollars on items such as this dreaded bench, they add to the appeal to the home, possibly generating more interest, quicker offers, and maybe even a higher selling price. 

When I sold my last home, I removed the kitchen table, which was nice until the kids started using it... I replaced it with a very cheap table and a nice tablecloth.  It looked great (thanks to that tablecloth).  This cost me about $50.  But my kitchen looked great and the house sold.  Yes, now I have an extra table.  But it's working out great as a craft table for the kids in the basement.  Or I could have donated it or sold it at a tag sale if I didn't have a use for it."

I vowed not to comment on that blog again.... this is funny to me because when I was going through a divorce the buyer wanted the bench on the patio... but it was my bench... I got it when we divvied stuff up...we countered it out of the contract...

 

 

Jan 03, 2007 04:59 AM
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate

Maureen - Well, now, you just proved my point!  Had you removed the "divorce-bench" and stored it away, the buyer would have never had the opportunity to ask for it.  You would have never had to bother with a counter-offer regarding the bench.  So much less stress...

:)

Jan 03, 2007 05:20 AM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate
But what if it was a different piece of personal property that sparked their fancy?  I wrote an offer in December with all the furniture on the deck...  and another one asking for a piece of exercise equipment...  Neither got the goods. 
Jan 03, 2007 06:03 AM
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate
Maureen - I'm not suggesting sellers remove all of their personal belongings from the house.  But I am recommending that they remove any items that are of great value to them.  True, a buyer can ask for any personal property to be included, and a seller can agree or not.  But if some item is of great importance to the seller, then remove it beforehand to avoid any chance of having that item come into play at all during the negotiations.
Jan 03, 2007 06:22 AM
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist
Don, I just wanted to let you know that this well-deserving post is included in the ActiveRain Week in Review.
Jan 12, 2007 08:42 AM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate
drat!  Beginners luck Don Fabrizio-Garcia and the green bench making the ActiveRain Week in Review! Congrats Don.
Jan 12, 2007 09:15 AM
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate
I'd like to thank the Academy...and all the jealous bloggers out there with their green benches...
Jan 12, 2007 09:54 AM