Is “that” included within the price of the home?

Hank Bailey
Hank Bailey
Published on May 31, 2019

Dave, a first-time homebuyer, was over-the-moon excited about finally moving into his new home. The day arrived, the movers were actually on time, and for the first time since the final walk-through, he opened the door to his home.

Since he had a case of water bottles with him, he headed straight for the refrigerator to ensure they were kept cool for his hard-working crew.

But there was no refrigerator – just an empty space where it stood just weeks earlier during the walk-through. Dave panicked. The stove was there and the built-in microwave above it. The dishwasher was there.

He then ran to the laundry room, only to find empty spaces where that new(er) front load washer and dryer once stood. Dave grabbed his phone to call his real estate agent who told his that those appliances weren’t included in the sale. Dave’s agent told him, “If you wanted them, you should have said something and we could’ve negotiated with the seller.”

Dave was, again after all, a first-time homebuyer. He had no idea that appliances were something that needed to be “negotiated.” After all, as a tenant, they were always in the homes he rented.

The tragic fact is that Dave, like many new homeowners, spent all of his savings on the down payment and closing costs with nothing left to pay for appliances. Thankfully, his parents stepped up with an offer to help him replace those missing appliances.

This is actually a true story.  I wish it were not, but when buying a home, please remember that it’s the buyer’s agent’s job to educate his or her clients about a process they may find completely foreign to them. To have neglected to do so, and then blame Dave for his shortcomings, is beyond belief!

Why aren’t appliances included in the home sale?

Sometimes appliances are included with sale. Many times, they are not, and here’s why. If they aren’t built-in, they are considered “personal property.”

When you buy a home, you are buying “real property,” which is the land, the home and anything else permanently affixed to both.

A rose bush planted in the backyard is considered a “fixture,” because it is affixed to the land.

A rose bush planted in a pot on the patio, on the other hand, isn’t a fixture, it is personal property and may or may not be included in the sale of the home.

Other examples of fixtures include:

  • Chandeliers that are attached to the ceiling
  • An outbuilding, such as a shed
  • Wall-to-wall carpeting (but not the Persian throw
    rug that isn’t glued to the floor)
  • Garage door opener

If the item is glued, nailed, bolted or otherwise attached
to the home, it is typically considered a fixture and must be included in the sale of the home. Yet, there’s a “butt.”

The seller can exclude items from the sale by mentioning it in the seller’s property disclosure or the purchase agreement. It turns out that the washer, dryer, and refrigerator in Dave’s new home, were excluded in the purchase agreement. Once again, a look at the seller’s disclosure would have told Dave (and his buyer’s agent this).  That’s why it’s always ultimately important to get a copy of the seller’s disclosure and review the fixtures checklist to see what’s included with sale and what is not!

Dave isn’t a lawyer and was depending on his real estate agent to decipher what he was reading before he signed it.

Yes, you can ask that personal
property be included in the sale

Remember that everything is negotiable.

The sellers are under no obligation to include any personal
property, and depending on the type of market and how motivated they are, they may hold firm during negotiations. There’s no harm in asking though, right? I firmly believe you don’t get in life what you don’t ask for!

Keep this in mind if you’re thinking of selling your home. If you want to hang on to your great-grandmother’s chandelier (or anything
affixed to the home), remove it and replace it with something else before the home goes on the market. Also, make sure your seller’s disclosure includes and excludes anything you don’t want to leave with the house!

Going back to great-grandmother’s chandelier for a moment, on a recently closed home sale my buyers were asked if the seller could take the dining room chandelier. It had been a gift to the seller by her father and she forgot to remove it from the seller’s disclosure as an excluded item. The house went under contract faster than she and her agent could have imagined and then she was at the mercy of my buyers.  In the end, they let her keep the fixture her dad had given her, but they wanted $500 to replace it with one just like it.  Ouch.

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