Real-estate agents (and Myself) recall clients who took built-in appliances and toilet seats along with them….
For Some Sellers, Permanent Fixtures Remain Forever Theirs.
When I first saw excerpts of this interview, I had no idea my own buyers would be next.
Said listing was advertised as a beautifully functioning Smart Home where my buyers and other potential buyers were encouraged to test out Alexa.
Questions to ask Alexa included :
Whos at the front door?/Whos at the back door?/Turn down the heat Alexa/Alexa …Run the dishwasher.
Needless to say… My millennial clients and I had fun with the smart home system.
To our shock…when my clients moved in on Possession day. The entire smart home system had been dismantled. Not only was the system dismantled, and the outside cameras replaced with dummy cameras, the bidet was gone, the smart thermostat was gone and get this… Even the Water filter on the sink was gone.
A wise man once said:, “If it takes a tool, that’s the rule.”…Don’t take it!
This brings us to the very real concept of Fixtures and Chattels.
In its simplest terms, the first step in deciding whether an article is a fixture is to find out whether it is attached to the real property. If it is attached, even slightly, it is presumed to be a fixture. If it is only slightly attached does its intended use defeat this presumption? Its intended use is to be discovered by examining the extent and the purpose of the attachment.
What can you remove from a home and what are you not allowed to remove.
Examples of chattels that come up in the real estate context, are refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, garage door openers, built in vacuum attachments, etc. Things in a house that are attached to the land or the building are called fixtures. They are called fixtures because they are fixed to something.
3. An item that cannot be unplugged and which is attached even slightly so that it requires the, “removal of screws, nails, bolts, detachment of plumbing or the cutting or capping of hardware,” is a fixture.
Other than recording serial numbers of fixture of the dishwasher, Washer, Dryer etc…the issue is already moot because the job is now to retrieve the items or have the buyer compensated if you have to buy new appliances or fixtures.
Now back to the Experiences of other Real Life Scenarios of Sellers taking everything. If you have a story, you would like to share. drop it here.
Q: Has a seller ever walked off with everything but the kitchen sink?
NEW YORK TALES
It was a $2.49 million, two-bedroom apartment, Midtown West in Manhattan. When I saw the apartment with my client, it was filled to the brim with amazing top-of-the-line appliances—a SubZero refrigerator, Miele dishwasher, Gaggenau stove—$50,000 to $60,000 worth. One of the things we noticed was that there was a beautiful built-in coffeemaker with a shelf—like a $5,000 Miele coffeemaker. It was something we hadn’t seen yet, so we both made a comment on it.
When we went to do the final walk-through, I turned on the oven, turned on the dishwasher. At some point my client said, “Hey, was this here before?” And where the built-in coffeemaker had been was one of the most basic, cheapest drip coffeemakers—like a $20 coffeemaker, one of those Walmart brands.
When we saw that we thought, “If [the seller] changed that, what else did he change?” We started to look around. All the amazing fancy appliances had been replaced by some cheap brand, but it was all stainless steel like the original appliances, so we hadn’t noticed.
Real-estate agent, The Agency in Brentwood, Calif.
I had been working with these developers who were looking at dilapidated properties. I found a home that was in very poor shape: a single-family home on a nice 6,000-plus-square-foot lot in prime West Hollywood. The seller’s daughter lived there.
The developers were going to purchase it for $1.4 million. My partner Ingrid Sacerio and I represented them. My guys were like, “Maybe we fix it up. Maybe we scrap the whole thing and bulldoze it.”
We closed escrow after 30 days, with a two-month lease back—the woman needed quite a bit of time to search for a new home. The developer became a landlord and she became a renter—for free, we didn’t even charge her. She closed on another place before the sixty days were up. I got the keys for my clients. And then he called me and said, “What the [expletive] happened here?” He said, “Griffin, they took the entire kitchen.”
It was unbelievable. The house was completely stripped. Everything was gone, I mean from the dishwasher to the microwave to the garbage disposal. She took out the kitchen sink. The cabinets were gone. There were two bathrooms. Both toilets were gone. Light fixtures—they took it all.
The woman had gotten a head’s-up that a developer was buying the house. It’s unclear who said what, but she basically had people come in and strip it. She was like, “You guys were tearing it down anyway, so I did you a favor.”
MORE NEW YORK TALES
The listing was a beautiful renovated Upper East Side apartment, a classic seven. It was listed at $4 million. Every single thing in it was new and in top working order. It had state-of-the-art appliances and state-of-the-art toilet seats. They were the fancy expensive ones: warm water, heated seats, automatic flush. The lids opened without your having to do anything.
I’d show the apartment and the toilet seat would open, and I was like, “No, I don’t need to use the bathroom, I was just walking through.” I remember being in the master bathroom and I could not get the seat to close.
The buyers were a lovely couple with two young kids. At the final walkthrough hours before closing, we walked into the bathroom to test the water. The husband said, “Oh my God. They took their toilet seats.” I looked down, and there was just a white toilet seat with a lid, like a toilet seat from a hardware store.
I didn’t know what to say. I probably said something like, “Now you have a nice, new clean one.”
I called the seller and said, “You took your toilet seats.” And he said, “Well, of course!”
The buyers were super unhappy with the sellers but decided not to make a big deal about it. They traveled in the same circles—Upper East Side, all the kids are in private schools. For all we know, their kid was in the same class as the sellers’ kid. They just said, “Forget it.” They weren’t attached to the seats.
Maybe two years later, the sellers called me to sell another apartment. They said, “You did such a good job for us last time.” The apartment had three bathrooms. I went in and sure enough, there were those fancy toilet seats. Every time people came to see the apartment, I would have to say, “The toilet seats are going to be replaced with plain ones.”
We never sold the apartment.