Confessions of an Estate Agent: Who turned out the lights?

Tim Waring is head of residential sales at Carter Jonas
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These days there is a fixtures and fittings questionnaire that a seller has to fill out, stating which items will be left in the property. However, a seller will very often decide at the last minute that they want to take away something extra. It never ceases to amaze me how far some people will go.

There was a very good illustration of this when we sold a property about four months ago. At the last minute, there had been a delay in completion, so we weren't allowed to release the keys to the new owners until 3pm. The buyers had been patiently waiting outside for two hours in their large removal van. Last-minute hitches in the money going through are very common, but by the time the buyers were finally given the keys to the house, it was getting dark.

Upon entering the house, they found that every single bulb had been removed. Not only that, but every single light fitting had been taken. Trying to find an electrician at 4.30pm on a Friday in November in the depths of Yorkshire is not exactly easy. To put it mildly, our buyers were not very happy.

Outdoor ornaments are also often subject to vehement disagreements. A property for sale in the same area was photographed with an old millstone set into the garden, which made a really striking feature. Just before the exchange of contracts, the buyer stated that he expected the feature to be included, as it was in the photograph. The seller replied that he had no intention of including it. The buyer then threatened to pull out, until his wife intervened, as she really wanted the house. Reluctantly the buyer finally agreed to its removal. However upon further examination, it transpired that the ornament would require a mobile crane to move it. The millstone stayed where it was.

Another recent disagreement concerning outdoor features occurred at a property worth upwards of £750,000. It had two lovely terracotta pots either side of the entrance, with a creeper growing out of the pots and onto a trellis positioned over the front door. After the exchange of contracts, the seller pointed out that he was taking the two terracotta pots with him and also planned to remove the creeper off the trellis as well. The buyer thought that the seller was crazy to go to such lengths and a stalemate between the two parties ensued, with the seller threatening not to complete the sale. The pots and the creepers had cost £147, so in an attempt to bring a touch of sanity to the proceedings, I took the £147 off my sales commission and the two terracotta pots stayed where they were, the creeper intact.

Carter Jonas, 13-15 Albert Street, Harrogate, 01423 523423