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Fluff & Fold Foolery

The frantic call came in two hours before closing. “We just checked the house we’re going to buy and the sellers took the washer and dryer out! They put in some old junky appliances that just barely work.  What do we do?”

I quickly checked the contract. Like 99.9% of them, it just listed a washer and a dryer as being included, but no specific brand or model type was noted.  However, just  like almost every contract, it stated that everything in the house must be the same at closing as it was at the time of contract.  Thus, things would be fine, provided my clients could prove the switch took place post-contract.

Did they take pictures? No.  Does their agent have any photos of the laundry room? No.  What about their home inspection report—did it list models and brands, or have photos? No, again. 

I quickly checked the real estate agent’s website to see if the house listing was still online.  It was, and so I clicked on “Virtual Tour.” At just about one minute into the tour, the camera passed from the kitchen into the laundry room, where the machines were clearly visible. 

I grabbed a screen shot, told my clients to take a photo of the replacement machines with a phone, and advised them to stop by an appliance store on the way to the closing.  We’d need the retail price of the missing machines (or comparable ones).

 photo by Martha Schwer

At the closing, the sellers first claimed my clients were delusional, while their real estate agent and attorney just shrugged. But when I passed across the printout of the tour, the phone with the photo on it, and the very helpful appliance store flyer, the sum of $200 was quickly offered.

By the time we finished, that $200 became a $700 credit to the buyers.

There are some important lessons here. The three that spring to mind immediately are specifying in detail makes, models, brands, colors and such on a contract; take photos or video of everything you expect to still be there when you move in; and remove the virtual tour before making a real life switcheroo.



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March 2019


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