Did you find your perfect home? Once you’ve found the home of your dreams, it’s time to figure out how to make an offer on the property. Before you do, make sure you find out what stays with the house and what goes with the seller. At the open house, you really liked the new stainless steel refrigerator. And the rose bushes out front, too. Do they come with the home? Maybe. Maybe not.
The expectation that you get everything you see can result in a harsh surprise—and lead to heated conflicts with the seller. To avoid misunderstandings and potential disputes, know which home items convey with the sale, and put that information in writing prior to closing.
Personal property vs. real property
Just because the MLS listing advertised an item as included does NOT contractually mean it conveys. As a rule of thumb, no matter what’s in the listing or shown at the open house, it all goes by the wayside once the sales contract is written.
Generally speaking, real property conveys; personal property can be removed by the seller. Fixtures typically transfer to the buyer with the real property unless they have been contractually excluded from the sale.
What’s the difference? Real property is defined by the land and anything that is permanently attached to it like the house, trees, other buildings, etc. Generally speaking, personal property is any item that is movable. It includes items such as furniture, area rugs and potted plants. Fixtures are items that would otherwise be personal property, but have been attached to the house or land. Examples include light fixtures, landscaping, and wall-to-wall carpeting.
Click here for a handy list of what stays—and what goes—from Realtor.com.
Make sure it’s in the contract
Each state’s laws and guidelines are different; however, a standard sales contract has a provision or paragraph entitled “Conveyances,” “Personal Property and Fixtures,” or a similar name. This section lists a number of items which are to be checked off to confirm that they will convey with the property. If your sales contract does not have that item’s box checked, the seller does not legally have to leave it in the house.
Nip it in the bud
Despite these efforts, there are still many gray areas that are the cause of disappointments, complaints and even lawsuits. Most problems crop up when the contract is inaccurately or incompletely filled out. Therefore, best to spell it out in your very first offer. And to carefully inspect that all the items agreed to are present during your pre-settlement walk through.
Resources: RealtyTimes, MoneyInstructor.com, Realtor.com