Orlando Real Estate, Orlando Buyers Agent, Orlando Homes, Orlando Buyers Broker: Real Estate Contracts: Don't Let the Home Seller Steal your stuff!

Real Estate Contracts: Don't Let the Home Seller Steal your stuff!

Real Estate Contracts:  don't let the Home Seller steal your stuff! Sellers Taking Personal Property

A real estate contract between a seller and a buyer to purchase a home comes with strings attached...please read what your purchase contract includes and know your rights so that you DON'T LET THE HOME SELLER STEAL YOUR PERSONAL PROPERTY.

Things like this do happen....

I went to do a "walk-thru" prior to closing for my buyer client because, as an Exclusive Buyers Agent, it is my job to make sure the house is in the same condition as contracted for and everything is working as expected.

Lo and behold!  The refrigerator is missing...the expensive double door stainless steel top-of-the-line fridge was gone! I looked around and also notice that the nice "Hunter" ceiling fans are now replaced with" $29 Cheapo" ceiling fans...and if that is not bad enough...sellers even took the MOEN (top-of-the-line) spigot/faucet out of the kitchen sink and replaced it with bottom-of-the-line plated nickel.  I would probably not have noticed that part, except they left the empty box on the counter.

I quickly called the listing agent to let them know that we had a problem...the response from the agent was:  "So what? The seller did not INTEND to leave the refrigerator and the house still has ceiling fans and a spigot... so what's the problem?"

The problem is this:  When a buyer's purchase contract includes a refrigerator...that means the same refrigerator that the buyers saw (and fell in love with) needs to stay....the buyer is BUYING it as part of the purchase price...end of subject.

Also, if the sellers house has nice "Hunter" fans and a fancy spigot when the buyer sees the house and makes the decision to buy,  the seller then cannot replace it with junk. (Unless that was spelled out in the homebuying contract ). In addition, even if it is not specifically mentioned in the real estate purchase contract, but attached to the house like a light fixture or built in shelves etc, it must stay with the house too. The seller simply cannot disassemble the house.

So what can a buyer do when a homebuying real estate contract includes personal property and  seller tries to steal their stuff?

         •  Postpone the closing until the stolen goods are returned and/or replaced.

         •  Take a $ credit $ for the difference in the loss of value of the substitutions and the replacement cost of a new same kind of refrigerator.

         •   Place a sufficient amount of sellers "proceeds from the sale" money in the title company's escrow account to be used to remedy the situation with the balance of the money account to be returned to the seller when the problem is fixed.

What you should not do is... do nothing, "close" and take the sellers word that they will bring the stuff back tomorrow...Your stuff is probably packed on the moving van already crossing the county line.

A Real Estate Closing is an end to the contract...nothing in the contract is enforceable after the closing, so read what you "paid for" in your purchase contract, know your rights and Don't let the Home Seller steal your stuff! 

Copyright @ Buyers Broker of Florida 2011 "Don't let the Home Seller Steal your Stuff!"

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Representing ONLY the best interest of the Home Buyer...never the seller.

 Eve Alexander Orlando Buyers Agent


Comment balloon 6 commentsMike & Eve Alexander • August 17 2010 05:32PM


I don't believe I've had substitutions before, but I'm sure it can/will happen. Good points on how to handle it.

Posted by Bill Wilson (Paradigm AdvantEdge) over 8 years ago

Eve - Excellent points in almost every circumstance, except bank-owned properties.  Too often the Bank will say ... this way or the highway.  The buyer must be prepared to lose the contract, if they push the point with the asset manager.  In my opinion the best advice to the seller is: if you are going to change out something, then do it BEFORE the listing goes public.  Again, in my opinion for those items sometimes defined as personal (like refrigerator) the buyers' agent needs to be sure that the description on the purchase agreement is specific .... thanks for reminding us that we need to always look at the little things ... they have a habit of becoming giants later.

Posted by Jack Mossman - The Nines Team at Keller Williams in Stockton, The Nines Team at Keller Williams in Stockton (The Nines Team At Keller Williams) over 8 years ago

Sure is true about the banks..

In our area, the Bank addendums always remove ALL personal property from the contract, so even if the property is sold completely furnished, buyer should not expect to have personal property at closing on an REO.

Eve in Orlando

Posted by Eve Alexander, Buyers Broker of Florida over 8 years ago
We are are having this problem. The sellers took the $400 mailbox and replaced it with a $50 box on a stick after we signed the contract and gave a $500 earnest check. What to do? I'm wanting to stand our ground. My husband says to let it go. Any advice?
Posted by Laura almost 8 years ago

My response to Laura:

First of all, if you have a buyers agent than they need to handle this...or the listing agent if there is one...a good professional will speak up for you.

However if you bought a for-sale-by-owner direct from the seller, you need to speak up.  The seller either does not realize that they cannot dismantle the property or they are arrogant tight wads who  plan to take their favorite parts of the house with them.

I would send the seller a certified letter letting them know that you expect to receive the property in the same condition that it was in on the day that you signed the contract and that removing anything attached is not acceptable....that you expect seller to put it back or pay you for a comprable replacement.

The seller has replaced something very appealing and visable, and traded it for junk. Seller just de-valued what you are buying.  Seller knows that you will drive by and see it...to do or say nothing is like accepting the fact that you are OK with him taking things. 

If you say nothing, what will the seller take or replace next?   The light fixtures? the appliances? the cabinets? the front door?  the favorite flowering bush in the yard? Or maybe now seller will put more closing costs on your side of the closing statment because seller is in control and now knows that you are willing to settle for less...

You need to set the seller straight and if seller resists, I would suggest hiring an attorney to represent you at closing because there could be bigger problems coming up.

Thanks for asking...

Eve in Orlando

Posted by Mike & Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 8 years ago
Back in school, I'm doing so much learnnig.
Posted by Janesa about 7 years ago