Okay, so the real estate addict in me has struck again. Can’t stay away. Third time’s a charm, right?

I completed an escrow in late March for a house I thought was a bit underpriced in a highly inflated market with a great loan. All was well in real estate land.

While we were waiting for the sellers to get out from a very favorable leaseback situation, we received a call from my sellers (now tenants). They wanted to know whether they could have a few extra days on their lease because they couldn’t figure out where to go with their cats “and the plants” until the home they were building was ready.

“And the plants?” I said to my husband.

We must have misunderstood. I called the listing agent and said that I had just received the strangest message from the seller regarding the removal of the plants from the property. The selling agent said he couldn’t imagine that the seller was taking the plants–virtually all of the landscaping on terraces and in beds– but he later called back to report that yes, indeed, the seller was taking all the plants in pots on terraces and in beds because, after all, I hadn’t requested them in the sales contract. They were, he said, after all, “personal property.”

Now I don’t know about these sellers–or said listing agent with whom I’d not been acquainted previously–but when I’ve sold my home (and as well in this outrageous era of profiteering) only those items specifically listed as exclusions went with me. Landscaping that made the home more attractive was one of the features to which the buyer was entitled. After all, isn’t that what buyers are paying a premium for in this market?

But it didn’t stop there. When my husband arrived at the property with a contractor to obtain the first set of estimates for improvements, my husband found a note had been left for him by the seller/tenant.

“Would you like to purchase the wine racks that were custom made for ___ on his 40th or 45th b-day?” the seller asked.

Because they weren’t “attached” she stated. And if we wanted to buy them, she needed to order new ones to be made as soon as possible for their new home.

“They’ve got to be kidding,” I said to my husband.

Why didn’t they list those as exclusions on the listing agreement? Again, the seller’s agent said they were part of the “personal property.” (And, by the way, the agent reminded me, the sellers were convinced they had sold their house to us too cheaply two months ago.) Was this their revenge for a market in which prices were still going up?

So then there was a small wager among my friends and my family on what would be next classified as “personal property”–the swimming pool enclosure, the curtain rods, the shed? Needless to say, this was a bet I was sure to lose because the sales contract said “attached” and I certainly wasn’t. So much for disclose, disclose, disclose.

Julie Brosterman is a consultant to the real estate technology, mortgage and servicing industries. After she spent 15 years in the title insurance industry, the Internet “spoke” to her and she has never looked back. She lives in Los Angeles and can be contacted at juliebrosterman@hotmail.com.


Send tips or a letter to the editor to newsroom@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 124.

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