Projecting Anxiety on Furniture

Work enough in the retirement communities in Phoenix and you’ll inevitably run into the phrase “furniture available outside of escrow.” On the surface, it seems like a simple enough proposition – the seller doesn’t want their stuff, the buyer doesn’t need to buy new stuff and all can walk away happy.

Except it rarely works that way because of the notion of projection – channeling the understandable anxiety over purchasing a home and projecting it onto what in reality is a much, much smaller purchase – the furniture.

Some items automatically remain with the house, assuming the Arizona Association of REALTORS resale purchase contract is being used and hasn’t been amended – ceiling fans, light and plumbing fixtures, built-in appliances, the oven, window treatments and the like.

As for the rest – broadly defined as anything not nailed down – they’re not going to be included unless they’re negotiated. And here’s where things get fun.

It’s not uncommon for a buyer or seller to be willing to move $1,000 or more on the purchase price of a property but quibble over a $50 lamp. Why? Because both the buyer and the seller are focusing all their nervous attention regarding the sale on the lamp as it’s easier to process a $50 item rather than the larger six-figure property that’s the center of the transaction.

So what are a buyer and seller to do? Focus on the sale first and make sure both sides are happy … once that’s done, then delve into the furniture. Don’t make the sale about the love seat when it’s really about the open kitchen.

Easier said than done, I know, but a wiser course of action.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at