Q: “Denise, I have a dilemma. I have a seller who is a Master Gardener with a number of specimens that she doesn’t want to leave behind when she moves. The challenge is she isn’t going to be moving directly into a new home due to the timing in the market. She wants to be able to go back afterwards (weeks or months after closing) and get the plants then. I think this isn’t a good idea for a number of reasons. What are your thoughts?”
A: I agree – this situation can get messy. If I were the buyer, I don’t think I would want the seller coming back and messing up garden beds after the home was mine. Furthermore, what if tags that indicated what plants were going had fallen off and there was confusion over which plants were agreed-upon to stay? What if excavating some plants caused others to die? I think this is problematic and the best-case scenario would see these removed before closing.
So now your job is problem-solving. You have two problems – finding viable solutions and talking to your clients about options. I would talk with your seller first and see what solutions she may have thought of since she probably has connections with other local gardeners, nurseries, and landscaping professionals. Perhaps putting these into containers and storing them temporarily at a garden center or in someone’s yard who can care for the plants is an option. If she isn’t willing to look at a stop-gap solution, then I would try to engage her in a conversation by asking “what if’ questions such as:
- What if the buyer won’t allow you to come back on the property after closing? It can be written into the contract, but since it is post close, it may be difficult to enforce.
- What if you and the buyer don’t see eye to eye on what is getting removed, damage to surrounding plants in the process, or the state in which the garden beds are left?
- What if the buyers go ahead and take those plants out themselves in anticipation of your coming and they don’t remove them correctly?
Furthermore, you should check with your broker regarding any local laws or regulations that may come into play in this situation.
Remember, challenges can become opportunities, so use this as an opportunity to make connections with local gardening and landscaping professionals as well as help your client get this problem solved!