As real estate agents we are working with individuals and families making the largest single investment they will usually make. I take this responsibility very seriously and know that it is my responsibility to:
- Read every document involved in a transaction
- Understand what each line of those documents mean
- Explain every line of the document to my clients
- Know what they we are accepting in the contract
- Explain to them that the contract is legally binding
It seems to me that these are very simple points that anyone who calls themselves a real estate agent would agree are important and non-negotiable. But, it is unfortunate that there are agents who don’t start with number one and certainly don’t follow all five!
I was working with a couple relocating to the Murfreesboro TN area. After searching for the perfect home for their family there was one Murfreesboro TN home in particular that satisfied all of the items on their must-have list and most of the items on their wish-list. In addition to being the perfect home, it had stunning decor from a professional interior designer and was filled with custom made draperies.
These weren’t just basic curtains. They were very elaborate custom made silk draperies that covered windows in a two story great room. They were mounted on the most beautiful rods and decorative hardware that I have ever seen. The custom draperies went throughout several rooms of the home and really made this home stand out among the others. Needless to say, my buyers wanted all of the draperies to remain with the home.
We wrote up an offer using a standard TAR (Tennessee Association of Realtors) Purchase and Sale Agreement and presented it to the listing agent. Any blanks in the form were filled in with typewritten language so there was no doubt the offer was legible and easy to read. Preprinted in this widely used contract is the language: INCLUDED as part of the property... “all window treatments (e.g. shutters, blinds, shades, curtains, draperies) and hardware.”
The seller countered our offer with a higher purchase price but he did not strike the clause stating that all draperies would remain and made no mention of anything regarding the draperies in the counter. My buyer’s were ecstatic to be getting the home at a fair price which included the incredible custom draperies. We accepted the counter and the offer was made binding.
The home inspection and appraisal went well. Everything was going along smoothly for closing. But then...ring, ring...it was the listing agent cheerily
asking me if my buyers would be interested in purchasing the custom draperies for a reasonable amount. She stated that the seller had invested over $35,000 in these draperies (which I know sounds extraordinarily high but they were stunning!) He was willing to leave them along with all the custom made hardware for $15,000!
Needless to say, the rest of that conversation did not go well. I informed her as nice as I could that my buyers would love to keep the draperies and they had in fact already bought them in the original Purchase and Sale Agreement which was now a binding contract. The listing agent was adamant that we had not asked for the draperies and this was a huge deal to the seller. I pulled out the binding agreement and went over the lines with the agent that covered the draperies. She became frustrated and indicated that I had “used that TAR contract” that slips in the draperies. Her company uses their own contract and anything like draperies had to be written out in an addendum. Somehow this was turning into some sort of conspiracy on our part to sneak in the draperies. She even went so far as to say “no one reads all the preprinted language in those offers!” Excuse me, but I do! How could anyone be a designated agent for their buyers and NOT take the time to make sure they have read the offer top to bottom and advise their clients on every detail of the offer?!
It wasn’t the most pleasant closing for me and the tension with the other agent was high throughout the rest of the transaction. However, when it was all said and done my buyers closed on a beautiful home with stunning designer draperies in place. I don’t know what happened with the listing agent and her seller. I never knew if she had to compensate the seller in any way for not pointing out that the draperies were included in the original offer. But I do know, I certainly wouldn’t want to be in her shoes when she had to explain what happened to her client.
Before you sign - read EVERY line!