Fab Real Estate Blog: Top Seller Mistakes - Exclusions

Top Seller Mistakes - Exclusions

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.

 

Comment balloon 43 commentsDon Fabrizio-Garcia • January 02 2007 10:03AM

Comments

I don't think this is something that we can stress enough whne buyers walk into your house they are wanting to buy what they see when they walk in the door so have that house ready to sell
Posted by Tyler Wedel (THIRD TENNESSEE REALTY) over 11 years ago

Great post Don. I always tell my clients to remove what they want before we start showing..

I'm going print this post out as a good reminder! 

Posted by Monika McGillicuddy, Southern NH & the Seacoast Area (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty) over 11 years ago
Tyler - You're exactly right - buyers want what they see.  Why mess with their emotions?  Replacing light fixtures, drapes, etc., can be relatively cheap.  Take care of it all ahead of time - and then you've already got a head start on your packing!
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Monika - Thanks for the kind words.  Tell you sellers this helps them start packing ahead of time. If they get into packing early, it will also help them remove some of the clutter!
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Great post Don! I remember my first listing that I sold.  It was an expired, there was something built-in that the seller wanted to take with. I told them the buyers would want it... no matter if it said it was not staying on it, on the MLS listing....  in the contract.  Of course it became an issue!
Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 11 years ago
Maureen - Of course it became an issue!  We need to educate our sellers to remove any exclusions from their home - it will save everyone a lot of headaches.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Very true....If it wasn't there to begin with, the buyers would of never saw it.  I have said those words to my sellers over and over again when stuck on a certain item in the negotiating.
Posted by Home Design, Home Design and Real Estate over 11 years ago
Jennifer - This is why it's important for us to discuss this with our sellers before the home hits the market.  It will set everyone up for a much smoother transaction.  Thanks for the comment!
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Good reminder.. how many times have we seen a transaction almost fall apart over a $50.00 light fixture.. People digest mountains and spit out molehills...
Posted by Kaye Thomas, e-PRO, Manhattan Beach CA (Real Estate West) over 11 years ago
Great lesson for sellers. Don't get caught up the small stuff.
Posted by Kathy Vaughan (Ryan Taylor Homes) over 11 years ago
Kaye & Kathy - We've all had clients get caught up in the small stuff, like a $50 light fixture.  That's why we need to coach our sellers to take care of these things ahead of time.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
So true!  We've had a seller that ended up conceeding something they really didn't want to let go of so that the buyers wouldn't back out of the sale.  We told them in the beginning to remove it, but they thought it added to the elegance of the house.  They were right, and the buyers thought so, too.  They could have saved so much heartache if they would have just taken our recommendation.  Hopefully they will the next time.
Posted by Jim & Maria Hart, Charleston, SC Real Estate (Brand Name Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Very good post.  EVERYTHING a buyer sees should potentially be up for sale.  Don't automatically cross anything off the list is what I tell my clients!

Posted by Kaushik Sirkar (Call Realty, Inc.) over 11 years ago
Jim & Maria - Thanks for sharing from your own personal experience.  It helps to drive the point home.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Kaushik - You added a great line:  "EVERYTHING a buyer sees should potentially be up for sale."

That line should be placed into all of our vocabularies to help us educate our clients.  Thanks!

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago

They can take what ever they want, but it better be tagged when we look at the house.  Or, better be noticed EXCLUSION on a disclosure.

If it's something my buyer wants, we write it in anyway, lighting, drapes, etc. 

I've had sellers try to switch washers/dryers, lighting fixtures, etc.  They always get caught and it costs them dearly. 

WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH PEOPLE??? 

Good post Don.  Inexperienced agents can learn from this info.  If the seller wants that chandelier, take the dang thing down and replace it BEFORE putting the house on the market.  If the chandelier is going to help the house sell, leave the thing where it is.

I've never seen anyone else's drapes that my buyers wanted anyway.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Lenn - I find that most agents do not look at disclosures ahead of time, even if they're provided, so listing the exclusion there wouldn't always work. And, you're right - if the buyers want something included, the buyers' agent would and should write it in anyway.

I've never seen drapes that my buyers wanted, but I have represented buyers when the sellers, several weeks into contract, decide they want to keep the plantation shutters (not going to happen) or even the curtain rod hardware.  And I've unfortunately seen the chandelier issue come up a few times too many.

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
An exlusion in a listing is like telling a child "No."  Once the buyers hear it isn't included in the sale, suddenly it becomes of paramount importance to have it.  Must be psychological.  Anyway, it's always best for the sellers to remove and replace prior to listing. 
Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 11 years ago
Diane - Great analogy. You're very right - it is psychological, I believe because the whole process of buying and selling homes is so emotional.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Good post, Don, and great advice for sellers. I have seen a number of deals really get mired down due to these kinds of issues. And it's worse when the sellers decide on an exclusion after the fact, and all of a sudden it pops up in the counteroffer. The issue of removing things that are attached is a tough one, and your advice to have it done in advance is right on. Too much risk for a buyer that the work will not be done well, or things will get ugly after the final walkthrough. If you want the chandelier, but a replacement in advance, etc. It is almost as silly as the haggling that sometimes occurs over including a washer and dryer or not in a million dollar house - and the seller's want to take it at the last minute.
Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad (Solutions Real Estate ) over 11 years ago
Oh yes, and this goes along with the buyer who wants to purchase the seller's furniture!
Posted by Joan Snodgrass (Midamerica Referral Network) over 11 years ago

I agree, things that will not be remaining with the house should be removed and put out of sight before the first buyers come through the door.

Lots of our fellow Realtors also need some continuing education about exactly what a "fixture" is, and more importantly, is not.

Posted by Jim Lee, Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH (RE/MAX Shoreline) over 11 years ago

Don,

Thanks for the post. You are so right. The buyers are into the whole package. When the seller starts to dissect the property for exclusions, its almost as if the buyer is getting leftovers. Not a positive perception!

Posted by William Collins, Director of Property and Asset Management (ERA Queen City Realty) over 11 years ago
The one that kills me is when they take a major appliance with them.  Buy a new one!
Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 11 years ago
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.
Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) over 11 years ago
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.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 11 years ago

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.

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago

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.

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
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.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
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!
Posted by Michael Roberts (Real Estate Professionals of Glynn) over 11 years ago

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. 

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 11 years ago

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.

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago

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...    

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 11 years ago

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?

 

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago

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.....

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 11 years ago

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...

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
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...

 

 

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 11 years ago

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...

:)

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
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. 
Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 11 years ago
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.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Don, I just wanted to let you know that this well-deserving post is included in the ActiveRain Week in Review.
Posted by S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL, Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist (United Realty Group, Inc.) over 11 years ago
drat!  Beginners luck Don Fabrizio-Garcia and the green bench making the ActiveRain Week in Review! Congrats Don.
Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 11 years ago
I'd like to thank the Academy...and all the jealous bloggers out there with their green benches...
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago

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