A seller can take all the light bulbs before closing. I have heard tale of sellers doing just that to be spiteful. Is it an urban myth? I cannot say for sure, since it never happened to any of my clients. Real estate has its own norms, which basically conform to law and common sense. But some things defy logic, unless you understand the overarching rule.
When I write an Offer to Purchase, there is a section where I can add in anything that is not real estate that my client wants included in the sale. This section is usually used for refrigerators, washers and dryers. I also add anything that is in the “grey area” between personal items and real estate.
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 or things that seem to be not attached, that are. 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 rod are realty; that’s the kind of thing that everyone should agree about before closing.
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. Get it?
I am beginning to wonder whether people are going to start taking their light bulbs. The new LED bulbs are rather pricy. They are being advertised as $10 a bulb, but the bulbs will last 20 years.
Starting January 1, 2014, the old energy-hog incandescent light bulbs are no longer available. Instead, you can get the first-generation CFL lights or you can have $10 bulbs in all your fixtures.
The CLF bulbs have their problems. First, some people hate the white light. Second, they are polluters; they have mercury in them and make a mess if broken and are a mess for landfills.
I did a quick look around my house. In the overhead fixtures, I have 19 bulbs.
If I were selling, would I be spiteful enough to take nearly $200 worth of bulbs that I can use in my next place? Unlikely. But that may be just me.
If I were renting, would I be annoyed at a landlord that didn’t replace overhead bulbs? Likely. Would I go out of my way to take my bulbs with me when I left. Hummm… It would depend on the landlord.