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Vail Daily column: What to do about surprises at closing?

Joan Harned
Ask a Realtor
Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

I am purchasing a​ very​ nice property in the valley. I made a fair offer, which was accepted, and things were going along well until I was informed that the owner is taking several items that I felt were​ ​attached to the purchase, thus staying with the property. I hate surprise​s,​ and I hate conflict even more​. I think this situation is wrong, and I can’t get much information about what to do from my Realtor.​​ Any suggestions?​

Dear Surprised,



I couldn’t agree with you more that it is not good to be surprised near a closing date of a contract. The frustration you are experiencing, unfortunately, happens much more than it should, but can also be avoided. ​This is such an important issue that it is addressed on the first page of the 17-page Colorado Real Estate Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate. Also, in an attempt to make clear what stays and what it does not, the Real Estate Commission changed the language this year, so it no includes “fixtures.” Fixtures were defined as “personal property that has been so attached to land or a building that, by law, it becomes part of the real property,” as defined by the 2016 Modern Real Estate Practice textbook.

Inclusions and exclusions



Now, that confusing “fixtures” term has been removed and the contract just speaks of “inclusion — attached” and says that a list of standard items are included unless excluded under “exclusions.” The new contract goes on to mention “inclusions — not attached” and includes a large list of items that, if present on the property and not specifically excluded, are considered to be included in the sale, even though they are not attached. It might be quite a bit more work on many sales, but I think the safest way to proceed for buyers and sellers agents is to make extensive lists of inclusions and exclusions.

If the seller wants to take very little from the property, he or she might simply make an exclusion list to attach to the sales contract. However, the buyer still might want a clear list of all items included, so that it could be checked over on the final walk through before signing the paperwork.

I can remember doing detailed lists of items included for a buyer I had who was buying a large, fully furnished home. We recorded what seemed like a hundred decorative chickens of every size and color — but the buyer wanted it to look just like it did the first time he saw it, and so nothing was removed. It sounds like you need to talk to your Realtor and express your concerns to see if something can be worked out and to make sure there are no more surprises before closing. It might not be too late to do an amendment with a complete inclusion and excluded inventory list. Good luck!



Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at Joan@TeamBlackBear.com, 970-337-7777 and http://www.SkiAndTeeHomes.com.


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