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Does it Stay or Does it Go? (with the house)

3 Nov 2016 5

Once upon a time, an excited first time home-buyer was scouring the market for the perfect home. Finally, after months of searching he found it – the exact home he dreamt of! He wrote up an offer with his Realtor and the transaction went smoothly. He closed on the house, the Realtor gave him his keys and went right over to his new home.  He opened the door and stepped in, but something just didn’t seem right- something had changed but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

He looked at the listing pictures and realized the seller removed the window coverings and also swapped out the refrigerator with a different one!  The buyer was upset, and thought these items were included in the sale.  But were they?

Situations like this are all too common. It’s important to know, for both the buyer and sellers sake, what is included and not included in the sale of the property. In real estate, everything is negotiable. But it’s less about what you are allowed to purchase with the house, than what you have contractually obligated to include/buy with the house.

Can you imagine walking into a home you just bought to find something like this!?

"Kitchen not included!"

“Kitchen not included!”

To alleviate confusion and simplify the process, the standard REALTOR Purchase Contract in Arizona includes the following items WITH the sale of a property:

Free standing range/oven
Ceiling Fans
Attached floor coverings
Window and door screens, sun screens
Garage door openers and controls
Outdoor landscaping, fountains, and lighting
Pellet, wood-burning or gas-log stoves
Storage Sheds
Light Fixtures
Towel, Curtain and drapery rods
Flush Mounted Speakers
Storm Windows and Doors
Attached Media Antennas/Satellite dishes
Attached fireplace equipment
Draperies and other window coverings
Shutters and Awnings
Water-Misting Systems
Solar Systems
Central vacuum, hose, and attachments
Built-in appliances
Pool and Spa Equipment (If Owned not leased)
Security and Fire systems (If Owned not leased)
Water Softeners (If Owned not leased)
Water Purification Systems (If Owned not leased)

Notice appliances such as refrigerator, washer and dryer are NOT on this list. These items are considered personal property. However, these items are commonly included in the sale, so we must write them in to the contract to be sure the buyer and seller agree.

In the situation above, the contract of the buyer just said “refrigerator included”, but did not specify WHAT refrigerator. The sellers, in their infinite sneakiness decided to put their old refrigerator from the garage into the kitchen, and take their nice $5,000 Sub-Zero refrigerator with them. Unfortunately for the buyer, the seller’s bait and switch move would NOT be a breach of their contract.

New refrigerator or old refrigerator?

New refrigerator or old refrigerator?

In the real world, 99% sellers would never try to pull this off, but it’s always best to make sure. For this reason, it’s important your Real Estate agent understands this.  If you are purchasing any personal property from the seller, specify what exactly it is.  Take a picture, right the serial # in, make & model, etc.

So what about the window coverings that the sellers took with them?  Were they allowed to take them?  Unless otherwise specified in the contract, window coverings ARE included with the sale of a home.  This is a common item that sellers don’t realize and may take with them while packing.

Generally speaking, if it’s permanently attached to the house, it stays. This has brought up some interesting battles with TV’s as more and more homes have TV’s mounted to the walls.  Are these permanently attached? Or are these personal property and its common knowledge?

Is the tv a part of your home sale?

Is a mounted TV a part of your home sale?

If there is ever a question on whether or not something is included, ask your Real Estate agent and for goodness sake, put it on the contract to be sure!

Sometimes when folks move, they want to sell all the furniture as well.  Beware of adding personal property to a contract!  Personal property should be put on a SEPARATE bill of sale handled outside the real estate transaction. Purchasing $10,000 worth of furniture built into the sales price can cause nightmares with appraisals and financing.

Do note that when buying a home, you are typically entitled to a final walk-through before closing.  This allows you a chance to make sure everything that was agreed upon per contract is still in the house, and the home is in the same condition/shape it was when you made an offer – including things like missing window treatments.

The home-buyer in this story learned a $5,000 lesson – working with a Realtor who doesn’t understand the nuances and technicalities of the contract can be costly!  Don’t be like this home-buyer.

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Jon Knutson Realtor

Jon Knutson, REALTOR®

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