The Remote Control Thorn from the Transfer Disclosure Statement

Before I share this amusing story with you about a transfer disclosure statement and remote controls for a garage door opener, let me preface it by saying this is not to single out any particular buyer’s agent in Sacramento because it could happen to anybody. You can’t examine my closed real estate transactions for the month and figure out who I am talking about because I have had a whole bunch of closings this February, but the story made me laugh, so you would probably like it.

To start with, I always advise my sellers when completing their transfer disclosure statement to think before they indicate how many remote controls they have in their possession for the garage door opener. I explain that they might want to put down one instead of two remotes, even if they own 2 remotes. The reason is often there is one person who is the last person in the house after it is sold. This person might go back to check on the house or pick up that last box of belongings, and when this person drives out of the garage and closes the garage door, this person tends to drive away with the remote control and not realize it.

It’s after escrow closes that this Sacramento real estate agent will often get a call from the buyer’s agent. The agent will demand that the seller provide restitution for the missing remote control because the transfer disclosure statement the seller signed promised 2 remote controls to the buyer and there is only one remote control. Most real estate agents I know do not want to deal with the issue of remote controls. We probably don’t even want to hear the words: remote control, yet we do. It’s like a thorn in our sides. That remote control thorn. It grows up out of cement all by itself without water or sunlight.

It all started with the closing last week of this particular home in Sacramento. First the buyer’s agent submitted a broker’s demand after closing asking for a higher commission split, although the commission was clearly shown in MLS. The agent said a speaker at the Sacramento Board of REALTORS meeting had recently explained that commission splits reflected in MLS are incorrect. That’s interesting. Because it is the commission in MLS that governs the transaction, so there is some sort of disconnect going on and confusion. That set me up for the question about remote controls.

The agent insisted that I had told her there were remote controls. Now, I know that I never talk about remote controls to buyer’s agents because, like I said, I do not much care for the remote control thorn. I don’t mention whether there are remotes, where the remotes would be kept, how many remotes the seller would own — I keep my mouth shut about remote controls.

I pulled out the transfer disclosure statement and looked at it. Sure enough, the box for remote controls was left unchecked. The line for the number of remote controls was left blank. The seller did not even disclose whether he had a remote control and, since he didn’t live in this house because it belonged to another family member, he probably did not have any remote controls nor any knowledge of their existence.

I sent the transfer disclosure statement to the buyer’s agent to show there were no remote controls conveyed with the property. The buyer’s agent sent me the AVID I had completed and insisted I noted there was a remote control. Under “garage and parking” I noted there was a garage door opener. I also said doors were stored in the rafters. No mention of a remote control. See, this is how miscommunication can happen in real estate. A garage door opener is not a remote control. It is a device secured to the ceiling that opens and closes the garage door when activated by a button attached to the wall or a remote control, but it is not a remote control.

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