As housing strengthens, sellers making specific demands

norwegianelkhound_jefferyBy Nancy Keates | The Wall Street Journal

You want the house? You have to take Fiffi.

That is what the seller told my parents when they were negotiating to buy what became my childhood home, a 1920s-era stone Colonial in Philadelphia. Fiffi was a Norwegian elkhound with a weight problem and a certain sadness. The seller, recently divorced, was moving to an apartment building that didn’t allow dogs. My parents agreed, and Fiffi became part of our family until she died a decade later.

That was in 1972, but the practice of tying unusual demands to home sales is still around. In fact, it is more prevalent than ever, real-estate agents and attorneys say. Inserted into sales contracts, these contingencies by both sellers and buyers are called irregular exclusions or inclusions. Whatever they are called, they are a source of headaches, particularly for real-estate agents whose commissions are dependent on closing the deal.

Real estate veterans say the increase has been gradual but continual. Steven D. Sladkus, a real estate attorney in New York, estimates the general nitpickiness is up about 25% over five years ago.


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November 2013