Today we will take a break from the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act to address a problem we continue to see in the marketplace.
When a real estate agent lists property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the agent sometimes also includes items such as a washer, dryer, television or refrigerator. Then, a buyer’s agent presents a contract that does not include the refrigerator as referenced in the MLS. The seller then accepts the offer and prior to closing removes the refrigerator from the house and the buyer complains that the refrigerator was listed in the MLS and should stay in the house. Who is right?
The seller is correct that the refrigerator is not part of the transaction unless specifically included in the contract. The contract controls the transaction, not the MLS. If the item was to be included, the buyer should have included it in the contract. The MLS is nothing more than an offer to a cooperating agent that offers “if you bring me an offer on this property we will share the commission.” The MLS does not set the terms of the deal. It is merely a form of advertisement to other agents. It is not the contract between the buyer and seller and the terms do not trump the contract.
If your buyer wants the item, include it in the contract. Otherwise, you may be buying your client a new refrigerator.
Famous South Carolinian: Few South Carolinians may have ever heard of Melvin Purvis but most have heard of the criminals he captured. The 5’3″ Purvis, nicknamed “little Mel,” was born in Timmonsville in 1903. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law. As an FBI agent he tracked and captured famous gangsters Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger. He is also credited with killing Pretty Boy Floyd. His fame, however, brought him resentment from local law enforcement and the wrath of FBI Director Head J. Edgar Hoover. Purvis died in Florence in 1960 by an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound, which many believe was not accidental.