Q: After my offer on a Westchester house was accepted, my broker told me that the sellers wanted to keep the dining room chandelier and the bathroom sconces, and replace them with building-grade fixtures. This seems so strange. I thought fixtures were part of the house. I don’t want to lose this house over a couple of sconces and a chandelier, but packing them up and taking them away seems petty. What if the sellers decide they want to take more items out of the house before the closing?
A: The sellers are not obligated to include chandeliers or sconces with the sale, but they should have made their intentions clear before they listed the property.
The sale of a house is an emotional process — sellers may feel attached to fixtures they carefully selected and want to hold onto them. But a buyer is also making an emotional decision, based in part on the décor in the rooms. Find out later that these things were not really part of the house, and you may feel hoodwinked.
“I’ve lost a deal over chandeliers,” said Marcene Hedayati, the principal broker at Corcoran Legends Realty in Tarrytown, N.Y., adding that the listing agent should discuss these kinds of details with the seller before the house hits the market. “Half the time these issues arise because of a lack of communication.”
In a typical sale, anything affixed to the walls, floors or ceilings — including appliances, medicine cabinets and light fixtures — stays with the house. But a seller is not obliged to stick to that standard.
Now that you’re at the bargaining table, ask for more information, because anything is negotiable and nothing is assumed. Generally, shades and blinds are included in a sale, though drapery is not. But a seller might feel attached to those Roman shades and decide to box them up. If they do, you should know before you sign the contract, and they need to be replaced with a building-grade alternative. Appliances usually stay, but double check, especially if the items are brand-new or high end. A mounted flat-screen television is generally considered a personal item, but if the seller takes it down, the wall needs to be repaired.
On the flip side, the sellers may have items they’d prefer to leave behind, like an old swing set, piano or pool table — belongings that are unwieldy and may not get used anymore. If the seller is looking to unload such an item, consider it a bargaining chip: Trade a few sconces for an unwanted trampoline, and everyone is happy.
As Kimberly Renzi, an associate broker at Redfin in Westchester, put it: “I’ve seen buyers accept that and never play pool or never play piano, but they have them in the house.”
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