If I incorporate my art into my house, should I remove it before I sell?

My clients, T. and E. are selling their house.

They are leaving two stained glass pieces that T. made.

They are also leaving a wallet holder that T.’s father made. He is attached to it, but it “belongs” in that spot and no place else.





Should they have taken these custom items out before selling? As buyers, would you value these things, or would you take them out?

T. and E. would like to know.

Their listing agent advised them to paint over the custom touches they put on the stairs and the cabinets. Should they have left the paint work? Would the custom paint work be negative, neutral, or positive for you? (see picture at the top of the page.)

T. and E. would like to know.

Because I like and admire most of my clients, I remain available to them after they buy. They ask questions about owning. I get some of my blog topics from their questions. That’s where this entry comes from.

What stays and what goes, by law and custom, in real estate in Massachusetts?

Personalty or chattel is everything in the house that was not built into it or built specifically for it. Chattel includes washers, dryers, refrigerators, furniture, chairs, bookshelves, rugs, curtains, and such.

Realty is everything that is attached to the house, wired in, or built specifically for it. So chandeliers are realty, dishwashers are realty. So are the counters, cabinets, sinks, fireplace mantles, walls, floors, wall-to-wall carpets, and such.

The “grey area” is anything that seems to be attached, but is not. Also, things that seem to be not attached, that are. This is the stuff that everyone should discuss before closing.

Common examples of this are large, heavy mirrors over mantles. If the mirror is bolted into the wall, it is real estate. If it is hanging on a brace, it is chattel; but, the brace is real estate. Same thing for big TVs. Curtain rods are chattel, but the braces that hold the curtain rods are realty. The brace and rod are a set. Some people think the curtain rod set is realty; some think the rods are chattel.

Another wrench in the works is that Massachusetts law requires that all residential properties have a stove. So, the stove does not have to be written into the offer. Every once in a while, a seller will exclude a specific stove, but will also promise to install another one before closing. The sellers can take the refrigerator, washer, dryer (even the gas one), window air conditioner; they are all chattel.

Get it? When we write an offer for our clients, we go over the items that are chattel that the buyers may want. We also repeat some realty that the seller might be attached to. For T. and E.’s house, the offer would include the stained glass and/or wallet holder – if our clients loved them – just in case the seller was planning to remove them before closing.

Why we are exclusive buyer’s agents and how we find listing agents for our clients who sell.

People who are buying houses and condos are people moving in the direction of their dreams. People who are selling are leaving the place where their dreams were fulfilled (or not.) This emotional trend is part of the motivation to be an exclusive buyer’s agent. I stay motivated by being involved with people who are creating a better life for themselves and their family.

On rare occasions, I advise my clients who are contemplating selling. If or when they choose to sell, the best advice I can give them is to send them to two or more listing agents who I know give good fiduciary service. Quality agents take care to get their sellers the best possible price. There are lots of them. We help our clients find them.

We also help our clients avoid bad agents. Bad agents seek a sale that creates the least work for the agent. We know who the lazy agents are. We take advantage of them; we can get better prices for our buyer clients from lazy and sloppy listing agents.