Home Buying in Newport Beach>Question Details

Susan Chang, Real Estate Pro in Downey, CA

My cousin wants to make an offer on a house. The garage was packed with belongings. Does my cousin need to specify removal of personal items?

Asked by Susan Chang, Downey, CA Thu Aug 25, 2011

The home is in an exclusive gated community in Newport Beach. The owners had passed away and the house was given to their niece and nephew as stated in their living trust. I am a brand new agent in sales even though I have worked with a real estate license as a property manager for 23 years now.

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Eric J Soderlund’s answer
Page 4, section 9 of the Residential Purchase agreement states that all personal property and debris not included in the sale shall be removed by the seller by close of escrow. If the seller does not do this they have violated the agreement and you could take them to small claims court for damages. It may or may not be worth it. If you are concerned, then I would speak to their agent and mention this section of the Residential Purchase agreement (RPA).

As Debbie states, definitely add an addendum that extends the inspection contingency until the garage is clear enough to inspect.

Best regards,

Eric Soderlund
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
BEST ANSWER
Susan:
Please look at para 9 iii to see the provision that the seller will remove personal property not included in the sale by COE.
Terry
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
Hi Susan....
Just a suggestion - your cousin might want to have it stipulated in the contract that if the garage interior is not accessible to the inspector, due to the numerous belongings, you reserve the right to inspect it after the items are removed.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
Hello, with all my years of experience I always make my buyers let their attorneys specify that the home must be broom clean as we call it. Also any other personal itmes that the buyer wants outside of what must stay should also be specified in the the contract as well. Once agreed and signed off by the seller then it's done deal.

I hope my answer helped you.
Web Reference: http://www.RhondaHolt.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 27, 2011
Susan,

I agree with Dan that it would be a good idea to ask your broker for advice. I have only included asking for removal of items one time. I only did that because the people were borderline hoarders.

Dot Chance, Realtor®
Certified Distressed Property Expert – CDPE®
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Keller Williams Realty World Media Center
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2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
HI Susan, yes I would specify that the personal items be removed from the garage and the property as per your client's requests. Sometimes either sellers or tenants will leave things behind, but specifying that this is removed will help you with this. And then when you have your walk through as a condition of the sale, ensure that it has been done.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 30, 2011
Hi Susan, your cousin does not need to specify removal of personal items. As shared below, Para 9 does speak to the removal of debris and personal property by COE, as follows:

"9. CONDITION OF PROPERTY: Unless otherwise agreed: (i) the Property is sold (a) in its PRESENT physical ("as-is") condition as of the date of Acceptance and (b) subject to Buyer’s Investigation rights; (ii) the Property, including pool, spa, landscaping and grounds, is to be maintained in substantially the same condition as on the date of Acceptance; and (iii) all debris and personal property not included in the sale shall be removed by Seller by Close Of Escrow."

IN ADDITION, you should also be aware of Para 16 that provides you with a vehicle for confirming whether all debris and personal property not included in the sale has been removed by the Seller, as follows:

"16. FINAL VERIFICATION OF CONDITION: Buyer shall have the right to make a final inspection of the Property within 5 (or ) ________ Days Prior to Close Of Escrow, NOT AS A CONTINGENCY OF THE SALE, but solely to confirm: (i) the Property is maintained pursuant to paragraph 9; (ii) Repairs have been completed as agreed; and (iii) Seller has complied with Seller's other obligations under this Agreement (C.A.R. Form VP)."

You have a few options regarding the Inspection contingency removal as well. The contingencies in the CAR RPA are not "passive", meaning the Buyer must remove them in writing. Going past the contingency due date does not remove the contingency. So, you could simply send an email to the Listing Agent (for documentation purposes) asking whether the personal belongings will be removed from the garage in time for you to conduct the property inspection and remove the associated contingency by the schedule due date. [ You might also want to suggest the Sellers consider ordering a POD delivery to have the garage cleared so escrow can close on schedule, see: http://www.pods.com ]

An addendum as Debbie suggested would be the other option. In either case, talk to your Broker first. Then pick up the phone and speak with the Listing Agent.

Best, Steve
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 26, 2011
Put it in writing as a part of contract. Otherwise tell them to hold off some money through escrow to remove them from the property. Make it as transparent as possible and be fair and level headed.

Good Luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
Susan,
Get some advice from your broker. Creating a clause that requires someone to clear out the possessions sounds simple, but you'll need to cover several aspects to make it useful but not so overbearing that it backfires.
Ask your client, "if the deal closed and all those items were still there, but the terms of the deal were good, could you live with that"? Doing a garage sale or calling a charity to collect it all may be the worst case scenario.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
Hi Susan,
Normally, the homeowner will take all of their belongings. However, just to make sure have the agent specify it on the sales contract. Also, make sure that anything you DO want is on the contract too, such as appliances, chandeliers, surround sound, etc. The seller may say no but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Good Luck,

Vidi Barker
949.945.4857
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 29, 2012
Not just removed from the garage, but removed from the property. I saw one of these go to arbitration (the buyer decided to close when items were taken out of the basement and placed on the lawn in an attempt to buy time for the seller) and it was decided in favor of the seller because the terms of the contract were met. It was a mess and I'm glad it wasn't me or my client involved. It took 6 weeks before the lawn was cleared of the belongings. Just rediculous.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 31, 2011
Better safe than sorry. Although it is assumed that personal items will be removed, it is best to specify that the garage is cleaned out in the contract. It only takes a couple of seconds to make sure all your bases are covered. I would also recommend a walk-thru prior to closing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 31, 2011
Looks like lots of great answers. I would include a special mention of all items to be removed from garage, just to be safe. Technically all personal items are to be removed. Also be sure to have your buyer do a walk thru a couple of days before closing to make sure all personal items have been removed. That way you won't get a big surprise on closing day.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 31, 2011
Most standard agreements of sale would provide the condition the house has to be left in and most require "broom clean". But if I have specific concerns, I always spell it out more clearly. In this case, I might take that as an opportunity to get the house for a better price. The poor heirs may have no way to clean out the house so might be happy to take a bit less if you agree to take it "as is". How much can it cost to get some guys and a dumspter?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 30, 2011
Do you want them removed? If so, I would state in Special Provisions that all personal items are either to be removed or to transfer with the property. Your buyers call.

Jack Gillis, M.B.A., J.D. │ Realtor®
Jack Gillis Realty Advisors
United Real Estate, Broker
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Dallas, TX 75240
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 27, 2011
If there is ever a doubt when you should include something in the contract or not, I would ask my Broker, and yield on the side of caution. I would include it on an inventory list if it is to be included in the sale, so there is no confusion on the day of settlement that would cause an issue for either side at the closing table. Be sure to protect your clients best wishes, and if they want to make sure that all items are removed, be clear to have that expressed verbally and more importantly in WRITING, so there are no assumptions. This should alleviate any questions at the last moment as to the removal of items and whose responsibility it is.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 27, 2011
Susan,

First I'd reccomend you consult with your Broker in Charge when you have a specfic procedural question.

It's been a long time since I've worked in CA and I know your contracts are different from the ones I use here in NC, but I'd be surprised if they don't include a paragraph that the property is to be left "broom clean".

There's certainly nothing wrogn with your cousin specifying in the offer that all personal itmes are to be removed prior to closing.

Good Luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 27, 2011
If they are not part of the sale of the property, they will be gone once the house is to be taken over by a new owner. Sometimes when a house is viewed there well may be the present owners property in it, if not sometimes a realtor will decorate the house with furnishings or a few decorator items to make the house more pleasant for viewing. Not to worry all the items, notwithstanding parts of the house, will be gone by the time new ownership is taken over. If not in your particular case, you might want to ask your agent to remind the owners of the property a time limitation once the house is sold of course, to remove the items. If that still has not happened, then notify the owners of the items your intent to start charging storage. I believe the items will be removed.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 26, 2011
This is some pretty interesting stuff.....................Like it. It's fuel.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 26, 2011
Hi Susan,

This is a great question. Garages are a target-rich environment for home inspectors. A readily accessible area is necessary to check for insect infestation, fire-wall breaches, water damage, electrical defects, structural concerns and reportable issues regarding the water heater/furnace/laundry areas.

I suppose parties could leave some money in escrow to anticipate less-than-satisfactory issues when buyer performs his/her walk-through. Better to rent a POD or storage unit when an offer is accepted? Afterall, these belongings must be removed eventually.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 26, 2011
Hi Susan,
As stated earlier, your cousin does not NEED to; however, I recommend that they do. In paragraph 8c you can stipulate things that are excluded from the sale (i.e.; things that should be gone at the close of escrow).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 26, 2011
HI Susan,

This is something you need to discuss from your broker and not agents. Check the contract and you could write it in the contract or in an addendum. Again Check with your Broker on what he says for you to do.. If any problem arises he would be the one to help and advise you.. Good luck.. Ingrid Ski Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
Susan:
Thanks for your rating. Glad to be of help to you... good luck with the transaction!
Terry
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
Susan:
Correction... it would not be the estate, but rather the current owners who are charged with removing personal property as specified in the CAR contract.
Terry
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
Susan:
The standard California Association of Realtors contract already specifies that the seller (in this case the estate) will remove the personal items.
So, the legal part is handled.
You can cross the next bridge (of actually getting it removed) after you have contract approval.
Terry
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 25, 2011
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