Between buyers and sellers, a home’s real property and even fixtures can sometimes be negotiable. Who gets the bird bath? What about the appliances and electronic accessories? What one party assumes is theirs, the other party may not—and that’s where you come in.
To avoid any awkward misunderstandings at the closing table, step up and consult your clients on this single strategy. They’ll be grateful you did.
While every state has its own rules, the mnemonic device M-A-R-I-A is a great guideline to help consumers understand what items should stay for the buyers or go with the sellers:
METHOD of attachment: Anything permanently attached by cement, plaster, nails, bolts or screws, or in some cases the force of gravity (say, boiler room equipment) stays.
ADAPTATION to the property: What is the item used for? If it’s essential to the functional use of the property (like a water heater), and not moveable or adaptable to another location (like an oscillating fan), it stays.
RELATIONSHIP of the parties: If a property was previously used as a rental and a tenant added property—for example a window-mounted air conditioner—it may not be included in the sale to a buyer. Such items should be discussed before or at the time of contract, but things get missed, so double check!
INTENTION of the parties: Regardless of who installed the item, what was its original intention? Can it serve the same purpose for the new owners or wherever the sellers are going? There’s no right or wrong here; if there’s any confusion assist your clients in figuring out who needs or can benefit from the item the most.
AGREEMENT between the parties: Be crystal clear about any items in the “grey area” at the time of contract and well before closing. You can help your clients avoid a potentially bumpy closing or hard feelings. If ever in doubt, speak up!