That Pesky Chandelier

What one item causes most trouble between buyers and sellers after the sales contract has been signed?

Not arguments over the date of closing.

Not disagreements about whether the buyer can come in ahead of time to measure for curtains.

Not last-minute objections by the sellers who realize they've obligated themselves by contract to pay the buyer's agent.

Ask any REALTOR what one thing has made the most trouble over the years, and nine times out of ten you'll hear:

"The dining-room chandelier!"

The chandelier, of course, stands for all those items that buyers assume must remain with a house, and sellers believe they are entitled to take with them -- and actually, the one fixture most often the subject of argument, for some reason, is indeed that dining-room fixture.

In general, the law states that anything attached with the intention that it become permanent is part of the real estate. Built-in dishwasher stays, portable one can go. But it's not that simple. What about the front door key, or the remote for the garage door opener? They're not attached, yet they're clearly part of the real estate.

And what about the air conditioner solidly installed in the window? The satellite dish, the shed, swing set, wood stove, the large mirror, the custom window blinds?

A well-drawn contract nails down all such items, so everyone knows where they stand. Even earlier in the transaction, a well-drawn listing contract states which items the seller does not intend to include with the sale, even if they are technically part of the real estate.

Like the heirloom chandelier in the dining room.

An even better solution, though, is for the homeowner to head off trouble by replacing that fixture before the house ever goes on the market.

What they can't see, they won't want.