You’ve fallen in love with a home and are ready to put in an offer. But before you do, are you entirely certain that all the items that you believe come with the home purchase will be left behind when you get the keys to the home?
One of the most frustrating and unpleasantly surprising things that buyers sometimes face is the realization that a particular item that was assumed to be part of the deal is actually not. Before you put all of your emotions into the home, make sure you ask all the necessary questions to identify exactly what comes with the home, and what doesn’t. You may be surprised about what might not necessarily be included in your home purchase.
1. Window Treatments
Even though window drapes can be easily removed, many buyers may assume that they come with the home. In fact, it’s quite common to expect that window treatments will stay with the buyer.
Many homeowners have their window drapes custom-fitted for the width and length of their windows, so they might not necessarily fit the windows in another home. However, if these items are not specifically addressed in a real estate contract, the seller may still take them with them. It’s safer to assume that the seller will take the drapes with them to their new home once they vacate, unless the contract stipulates that they will be left behind.
The case for blinds might be a little different, as they are typically bolted down at the top and bottom of windows in place. Just to be sure whether or not they will stay, ask the seller or include them in the contract as part of the items to be left behind. Even if the seller rejects your request to have the blinds left behind, at least you’ll be made aware of it and even use them as a negotiating tool.
2. TV Mounts
The case of TV mounts can be a tricky one. Many homeowners have TV mounts bolted to their walls to accommodate for their flat-screen televisions. Many hang them above fireplaces to free up wall space in other parts of the room. Sellers typically take their TVs with them, but taking the mounts that hang them is another story.
If TV mounts are removed from the wall, they will leave behind a large hole that will need to be fixed. If the seller insists on taking the TV mount, this fact should be stipulated in the contract and the necessary steps should be taken to repair the hole before you get the keys to your new home.
This is often a source of dispute because TVs are considered personal property and therefore tend to go with the seller once they leave. But many times the mounts and brackets that hang them are thought to be part of the television package and are therefore also personal property, according to sellers, while many buyers may assume the opposite.
Regardless, buyers should never make assumptions, even if they may technically be right.
It might be customary for sellers to leave their fridge or oven behind, it’s not necessarily required. These pieces might be huge and heavy, and therefore tough to lug around, but they’re not exactly considered fixtures because they’re not permanently attached to the property. They can simply be unplugged and transferred from one location to another.
The dishwasher and washing machine, on the other hand, can cause some confusion since they are attached to the plumbing. As such, many buyers might assume that they are fixtures that should remain with the property. An argument can be made either way in this scenario.
In most markets, it’s customary for appliances to be left behind with a sale, though sometimes sellers may want to discuss them at the negotiating table. As a buyer, you should make sure to clearly list all appliances in the home, along with their serial numbers, to ensure that they will indeed be left behind.
4. Hot Tub
People can argue either way about the status of a hot tub. Some may say that because it is a free-standing, above-ground feature that can be disconnected from its heat source, it is personal property. As such, it should go with the seller unless they choose to do otherwise. Others may argue that because a hot tub is attached to a plumbing source and is located outside of the home, it’s considered a fixture and should be left behind.
As with other items of potential confusion, a hot tub should be listed in the items to be left behind on the contract.
Believe it or not, some sellers choose to take their chandeliers, pendant lights, and wall sconces with them when they move. The case of whether or not light fixtures should stay or can be taken by the seller is up for debate, but it’s customary for these items to stay with a home after it’s been sold.
That said, some homeowners actually want to take some light fixtures with them, and they sometimes neglect to stipulate this in their contracts. Others replace the light fixture and take the original with them, sometimes informing the buyer and other times doing so without disclosure. Either way, any seller who chooses to take certain items that may be considered fixtures should clearly identify their intentions in the contract.
What Constitutes a ‘Fixture’?
Typically, a home purchase should include anything that is considered a ‘fixture’, which is an item that is attached to the home. Fixtures are deemed to be part of the property, and as such, they are left behind when the seller vacates and the buyer takes possession.
Unfortunately, fixtures are often the source of disputes among buyers and sellers. Some fixtures are obvious, while others may not be. That said, a fixture is considered something that, if detached, would cause damage to the property. Things that are bolted down or part of the construction of the property are considered fixtures that should stick with the property after title changes hands, as they cannot be easily removed.
Despite this definition, fixtures are still a major source of confusion and dispute among buyers and sellers.
The Bottom Line
Sellers should absolutely be as detailed as possible regarding the items they intend to take with them and which items will remain with the property. At the same time, buyers should also take it upon themselves to ask questions and make their own inclusions in their real estate contacts to ensure specific items will be left behind. Being as specific as possible about the items to be included is the best way to avoid confusion and disappointment.