I work with a lot First Time Buyers. First time buyers can be particularly challenging clients due to their lack of experience, but, they happen to be my personal favourite. This is because I really enjoy the educational component of my work, including guiding newbies through the always-exciting, ever-changing Toronto real estate market!
Not to mention, it's EXTRA satisfying to hand someone the keys to their very first home!
A large part of my work with Buyers - in general - is figuring out what they actually want. Don’t get me wrong – I always have a wish list to help guide me i.e. location, number of bedrooms, parking etc. But beyond the immediate list, there is always something that pops up as a 'must have' during the house hunt. This 'must have' often sets the tone for the entire search, and it’s often not what you would expect.
A few years ago I worked with an awesome couple with a baby on the way. Our search lasted longer than usual because of fierce competition for homes in their desired area and at their price point. But, after multiple misses, we finally found THE ONE. I’m not sure who was happier at that point – my clients or me!
As usual, we visited the property as a group several times prior to submitting our offer, but I also scheduled an extra showing to examine the property solo. I do this to be certain I have everything on my end covered. One of my regular tasks during these bonus visits is noting the details of the Chattels and Fixtures, especially if they are high-end or unique to the home. For those unfamiliar with the terms, chattels and fixtures are two key parts of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale for both homes and condos. In short, they describe items included in the sale in addition to the property itself. It is important to note the key difference between the two:
1. Fixtures are items that are physically attached to the property. Examples include fixed light fixtures, book shelves and wall mounted televisions. Home buyers should be aware that the presence of a fixture does not guarantee that it is included in the final sale of the home.
2. Chattels are physical property that are not attached to the home but are also included in the sale. Examples of frequently included chattels include appliances and outdoor furniture.
It is imperative that both buyers and sellers clearly identify a list of both included and excluded fixtures and chattels in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. There can be room for interpretation so it is in the best interests for both parties to be thorough and descriptive.
As I mentioned, my clients were expecting a baby. During our recent visit the wife was thrilled to notice the dishwasher had a sanitizer function they could use for baby bottles. She RAVED about this dishwasher as it was obviously her favourite part of this beautiful kitchen. A particularly handy dishwasher is not going to be what sells a client a house but it can help reinforce a great decision. During my solo visit to the property I went through my check list and took extra care to get the make and model of the dishwasher. You can be damn sure I included the specific details of that dishwasher in the “Chattels Included” section of the offer along with the following clause:
"The Seller represents and warrants that the chattels and fixtures as included in this Agreement of Purchase and Sale will be in good working order and free from all liens and encumbrances on completion. The Parties agree that this representation and warranty shall survive and not merge on completion of this transaction, but apply only to the state of the property at completion of this transaction."
In short, the appliances and other chattels listed in the agreement had to be in good working order when the deal closed. If they were not, the onus would be on the seller to replace or repair them. It’s a clause used frequently by buyer’s agents to help protect their clients.
The listing agent phoned me two days before the deal closed. The wonderful, amazing, life saving, baby bottle sanitizing dishwasher was broken. The sellers were bound to the terms and clauses of my agreement and were responsible for replacing the dishwasher because it broke before the sale closed.
Even better: If I hadn’t included the make and model number but rather simply listed it as “Dishwasher” then the sellers would have been in their right to replace it with any dishwasher they chose (including a less deluxe model). My clients’ interests were protected by my contract that stipulated the specific model. Therefore, the sellers had to replace it with the same or one of equivalent quality. They eventually sent my buyers a short list of potential replacement options (including the original model), and my clients settled on a different model (of a similar quality) which included a larger top rack; this, of course, meant more baby bottles could be sanitized at once!
(If you are reading this and you are not a parent, then you may be confused. I’m going to need you to trust me – it is in fact a very big deal!
A surprise replacement of a great dishwasher with a not-so-great model may not break a deal. On the other hand, if I missed this important detail then I could lose a client. This is just one of many reasons to hire a real estate professional that not only knows the buying and selling process inside and out, but also asks the right questions, does the required research, and, ultimately, takes pride in providing superior service to their clients.
I’m in this business for a long time not a good time.
~ Kellye MacMillan, Realtor & Guest Writer
*Like what you've read? Consider signing up in the box below to receive our FREE monthly newsletter on housing, culture and design, including our love for unique urban homes and other Toronto real estate.