When a buyer goes through a home for the final time before making an offer, it is very wise that they bring along a pen and paper so they can write what they want included in the purchase letter. It has happened countless times when a buyer opens the door to their new home, and can’t believe that the seller took the window treatments from every room. The problem is, unless these items are specifically requested in the purchase order, there may be nothing anyone can do. These items can be considered “personal property” and they don’t transfer to the new owner unless requested and the seller agrees.
There are some fairly vague areas when it’s time to consider what is personal property. What a buyer may think is part of the home sale, a seller might balk. Some contracts are very specific about what is to be left behind, but others don’t give this information. So to buyers everywhere, the key is never to assume that what you see in a home, will end up being there when you purchase it. That pen and paper you bring before you make an offer is necessary so that you can include your request in writing and no one is left disappointed and angry.
So what is usually not included in real estate transactions? Here are some of the more typical items.
1. Window Coverings: As mentioned above, this is one of the top things that is a gray area in a home sale. If you are considering a home that has custom-made window coverings, and you know you want to keep them, make sure you have it in writing that you want these window treatments included in the home. There are times a seller has made custom drapes to match the furniture, and they will want to exclude them from the sale of the house. Always ask if you are unsure an item is included. If you want it, specify that you want “existing window treatments.”
2. Appliances: This is another one that can cause havoc if a buyer walks into a kitchen and notices all of the new stainless steel appliances are gone. Buyers will scream to their real estate agent, “But I ASSUMED appliances were included!” Shame on the real estate agent that doesn’t’ ask the buyer if they want these items so it can be included if necessary, but this happens. It also has happened where a seller will replace higher end appliances with low-end models. Again, like the window treatments, make sure that “existing appliances are included,” and if necessary, write down the make of the appliance so there are no issues. It’s always good to cover every base.
3. Personal Property: This is where it gets sketchy and where a buyer must go from room to room and write down anything they want included. For example, what about the chandelier above the dining room table? It could be a family heirloom and the sellers have no intention of leaving it. But for you, it is designed to fit that space. For sellers in this situation, I would suggest before you even put the home on the market, take the chandelier down and replace it with a generic one. The buyer won’t know what you had before so there is no confusion. Even if it seems obvious to the buyer that an item should stay, again, take my 20 plus year career advice: don’t assume anything.
4. Flat Screen TV’s. These items have almost become works of art in some homes. Many are professionally mounted on a wall or above a fireplace. Wires are running through the walls so every ounce of care has been taken with installation. But televisions have always been considered personal property, so we are seeing these items turn up more and more in real estate negotiations. No buyer should think that a flat screen will stay. If it’s not mentioned in a real estate contract, then there is an excellent chance that all that will be found when a buyer walks into his home for the first time is a hole in the wall.
5. Foreclosures: I put this here because when homes are foreclosed upon, homeowners have often removed all fixtures and finishes from the property. Just keep in mind, that if you are buying a home “as is,” with a foreclosed home, you are buying what you see.
My Advice To Sellers:
If you have every intention of taking the drapes, the top end appliances or the chandelier, then make sure it is mentioned in all selling materials, both online and in print, so that a buyer has been adequately warned that these items are not included in the sale of the home.
My Advice To Buyers:
I cannot stress enough that you should never assume that the flat screen will be above the fireplace, or any item that you specifically want, like a custom mirror in the entry, will be there if it is not specifically requested. Another word of advice: If you are told that an item is included, make sure you get it in writing. As Windsor Realtors, we have seen it all.