Q. Our agent is pretty insistent that we shouldn't be there when she brings buyers to go through our house. We want to see what sorts of people are interested, and we can answer questions better than she can. Do you think she's just worried about whether we'd think she's doing her job right? Should we insist?
A. Yes, you know the house, but the agent knows these buyers. Falling in love with a house is like falling in love with a person, and three's a crowd. Your agent knows when to fade into the woodwork.
She already knows, for example, that they need space in their dining room for a large heirloom breakfront. She won't interrupt while they stand in the hall doorway mentally placing furniture against your long wall.
Indeed, if you stick around while a skilled broker shows your house, you may become nervous listening to the silence. But although she may not say much, she is listening very hard. You wouldn't hear a stream of patter and salesmanship. A good broker uses skill and expertise to match buyer and house and then steps back to let the place sell itself, putting in a few deft words where they can do the most good.
The agent tries to never argue and fades away discreetly when it becomes obvious the buyers need to confer in private. Such moments may come as they begin to feel they've found the right house. Your house showing may involve a great deal of silence, which can be unnerving to a homeowner.
Another problem, if you join the group, is the simple matter of space. It's easy for stairways and halls to become crowded. The agent knows better than to enter small bedrooms with prospects.
So when the doorbell rings (aren't you glad you fixed it?), greet the buyers with a smile; wait to be introduced; and then excuse yourself. Say: "Don't bother with the lights; I'll take care of them later. If you need me, I'll be next door."
Q. We moved into our new home, and there's one question you can help us with. It is my understanding we were supposed to get the house in the condition it was in when we saw it; it was empty, except there was a pool table in the downstairs rec room. But the pool table was taken away between when we saw the house and when we became the owners.
I know you say see a lawyer, but I don't think it would pay for the cost of a used pool table. Is there anything we can do about this?
A. Yes, special arrangements might be necessary to move a pool table -- I believe heavy slate is involved. They're often just left behind when a house is sold. It sounds, though, as if your sellers took theirs or sold it after the furniture had gone.
At any rate, you've run into the definition of real estate, fixtures and personal property (chattels). Your sales contract gave you the right to the seller's real estate and fixtures, which are chattels that had become part of that real estate. The pool table, though, remained personal property. If you wanted it to remain, you should have said so in writing as part of your offer.
Yes, you're entitled to the real estate in the condition it was in when you offered. If the sellers had later removed, for example, a dining-room chandelier you particularly liked, I'd suggest taking them to small claims court. You could represent yourselves there at little cost and see what a judge would have to say.
When permanently attached to the wiring and the ceiling, that chandelier, though originally personal property, would have become a fixture, part of the real estate. Not so with the pool table, I'm afraid. Unless the sellers said in writing that they would leave it, they were free to take it.
Q. We found the house we want to buy without using an agent, but we aren't sure how to get a mortgage. Any advice is welcome.
A. If you have an account with a local bank, that's the place to start. It'll refer you to the mortgage department.
You don't "get" a mortgage, by the way. Quite the opposite: You actually give it. The usual term is "placing" a mortgage. It's a document pledging your real estate as security for a loan. You sign it and give it to the lender; the lender "holds" it.
• Contact Edith Lank on www.askedith.com, or 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester NY 14620.
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