How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract?

Posted by: musicperson

How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/08/10 11:00 PM

Assuming I find a piano offered for sale by an individual, make an offer, and the offer is accepted, then what?

Should I first pay a small percentage of the sales price to show I'm serious, then pay the rest on the day it's moved from seller's to my house? If so, how much do you think is reasonable?

Should there be a simple contract? Covering such things as:

Until piano is removed from seller's house:
* Piano must not be moved or altered in any way

* Any damage to the piano up until the time of moving, whether currently disclosed or not, while in the seller's house will void the buyer's obligation to purchase the piano, and all money will be refunded to the buyer. This includes, but is not limited to, damage discovered while preparing the piano for moving. Optionally, the buyer can request that the damage be repaired immediately to original condition at seller's expense, with full disclosure of the damage report and repair given to the buyer. If not repaired satisfactorily to the buyers standard, the sale is void and all money will be refunded to the buyer.

* Seller is not responsible for any damage caused by movers. Damages caused by moving are to be covered by the agreement between the mover and the buyer.

Other ideas? Does anyone have a sample simple contract they used?
Posted by: Legal Beagle

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/08/10 11:35 PM

Musicperson,

Your concerns are all legitimate, especially if the transaction involves a signifacant amount of money. You might get some good advice here... and you might get some that's not so good... but I would point out that what you are essentially doing is asking for professional legal advice on a public forum. Although contract law of this nature is not necessarily the most complicated legal field, your questions raise issues that might not be as "simple" as they seem, and that also might depend upon the jurisdiction in which you live (and the seller's jurisdiction, if different from yours).

If there's a reason for you to be concerned about this transaction, whether it's because you suspect possible trouble, or because you have a lot of money on the line, I would urge you to seek the advice of an attorney and get a good, enforceable Purchase Agreement which would protect you in the unfortunate event things went awry.

I say this not to plug the services of attorneys (yes, I am one), but to share what I have learned from experience with the many clients who tend to come in AFTER things have already gone bad... invariably they would have been money ahead to seek an attorney before doing the deal. It's like the old auto parts commercial: "you can pay me now... or you can pay me later." Guess which one's cheaper and easier.
Posted by: Volusiano

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/08/10 11:54 PM

I think it's best to just keep it simple and not bother with any cumbersome and lengthly contracts and stipulations that the seller may or may not agree to or even honor afterward if a problem arises. Just arrange for a fast pick up and inspect the item on the day of pick up and if you see something you don't like, you can always back out or ask for a price adjustment. I don't know how big your purchase is, but you gotta ask yourself if something goes wrong with your "contract", is it worth the hassle of taking the seller to small claims court or not? If not, then keep it simple and just pay on pickup day after a final inspection and do a Bill Of Sale only.
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/09/10 02:39 AM

In that you are the one who is contracting the piano mover you the buyer is technically liable if any damage occurs in the move to the seller's domain via the movers.Hopefully they have insurance to cover both parties. So... I agree with Volusiano,keep it simple. Inspect on the day of pickup and hand over the dinero. You complicate the issue the seller might say forget it in that you are relaying mistrust to the seller. I'm a lawyer too and sometimes you gotta go with the flow and just minimize your chances of mishap. wink
Posted by: Rickster

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/09/10 08:12 AM

A lot depends on how you perceive the personality, honesty, and integrity of the seller. In my case, I looked at the piano one day and spent some time playing it and examining it and talking with the seller. We did not come to an agreement on price that first visit but discussed ball-park figures. I thought about it over night, and called a professional mover the next morning to see how soon he could move the piano for me, if I bought it. When I got a tentative date and price to have the piano moved, I called the seller and offered him a price. He rejected my first offer and made a counter offer. Since I like the piano and knew I would have a hard time finding another one of similar size, age and condition for that price, I accepted his counter offer. In hind sight, had I held out, I believe the seller would have accepted my first offer ($150 difference). We agreed on a method of payment, a certified cashiers check from my bank, and a time to have the piano moved.

The next morning, I met the piano movers at an exit on the interstate and they followed me to the seller’s house. I presented the seller with his certified cashier’s check, and he gave me a bill of sale before the movers touched the piano. The deal went smoothly and the move went smoothly and I have enjoyed my grand piano enormously!

I hope this helps!

Rick
Posted by: Les Koltvedt

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/09/10 08:55 AM

Being on the selling side only once of a high-ticket item - sold an antique car - I accepted a certified cashier's check, but wanted to wait till it cleared my bank before releasing the final bill of sale and vehicle. I did give them a receipt at the time the monies were exchanged. I'm currently heading towards this same dilemma being a seller again and am curious on the replies posted.
Posted by: AJB

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/09/10 10:57 AM

I am a lawyer too by training and I would not get an attorney involved if I could possibly help it, unless I thought the seller was possibly a shyster.

A lot depends on how much money is involved and what the seller is willing to accept in terms of hassle.

My preference would be to pay cash on the day of collection, inspect the piano then if it is OK hand the money over and let your movers get on with the job. Ideally get a receipt confirming the sale and that the seller has no outstanding loan finance on the piano (which might affect legal title obviously).

Your good faith is evidenced by the fact that you will book and confirm movers in advance. I steer away from deposits, but If I did pay one it would be small and with a note to make clear that it is refundable in the event that the transaction fell through.
Posted by: Stearman

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/09/10 12:57 PM

I have bought and sold a few big ticket items. Airplanes mostly. If it is going to be a long time between when the buyer says "I will take it" and when the final payment arrives, then a non refundable deposit is in order. This can be as little as $500. The reason is that the next day a customer might answer the ad and have the cash and the seller will have turn the guy away as the piano is sold, just not paid for. If the buy backs out, the second buyer might have found a different piano to buy and the seller is double screwed. If the buyer is serious, this is no big deal.

Both parties should agree on payment type. Cash or wire transfer. Cashier checks can be faked and it would not be unreasonable of the seller to wait until the check clears which, yes even for cashier checks, can take about 10 business days. If I am the seller, I will not under any circumstance release the piano until it is paid in full. In my opinion, when you walk into the sellers house and hand over the cash, the piano belongs to the buyer now and is no longer the property of the seller. Anything that happens to the piano while it is leaving sellers house is not the responsibility of the seller as he no longer owns the item. That means that you better have good movers who will take financial responsibility if the thing gets dropped. If it is you and your cousin moving the thing and you drop it down the sellers stairs, bummer, you just dropped your new piano.

All this can be written up on a simple piece of paper. I Joe Player agree to by a 2010 Haliun, serial number 596343, from Norbert for $800. Payment will be a non-refundable deposit of $100 with the balance no later then March 1, 2010. Signed Joe Player, Norbert
Posted by: Less Rubato

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/09/10 01:02 PM

Stearman-

Enjoying that Hailun, are you?
Posted by: WhiteBear

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contr - 02/09/10 05:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Stearman

... I Joe Player agree to by a 2010 Haliun, serial number 596343, from Norbert for $800. Payment will be a non-refundable deposit of $100 with the balance no later then March 1, 2010. Signed Joe Player, Norbert


Wow!
Is "Haliun" a cheaper imitation of the venerable and esteemed Hailun brand that one can get virtually for free (with the idea being that after playing it for few days - one returns back and buys the real thing even if it would mean remortgaging the house) laugh
Posted by: Old Dog

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contr - 02/09/10 05:42 PM

I just bought one, and drafted my own bill of sale. It is quite simple. List the name and address of the seller and buyer. List the item sold (piano, make, model and serial number) and price. List the payment (cashier's check, serial number). Signature and date. That's it.

I kept it very simple. In my case, I happened to trust the integrity of the seller after our talk and negotiation.
Posted by: musicperson

Re: How to handle piano sale between private parties - contract? - 02/09/10 08:42 PM

OK, I feel better about this now. Was hoping not to have to draw up a long purchase agreement, but would've if most folks tend to do it for private piano sales. So far, the sellers I've talked to have seemed to be very nice people, in which case a simple Bill Of Sale should suffice.

As always, thanks everyone for your great advice.