What Stays With the House?

     Many times after a sale is completed or at the final walk-through by the buyer just prior to closing, the buyer finds that items are missing from the home that were supposed to be included.  This scenario often places the listing broker in a frenzy to get the seller to replace the items.  Even though it is not up to the Realtor® to enforce the contract, they may feel at least partially responsible if they emphasis that portion of the contract that talks about included items.

     The boiler plate language on a Realtor® generated purchase and sale agreement (concerning included items) goes like this: “Any of the following items (including other items specifically listed on term no. 5) located on the property are included in the sale; built-in appliances, wall-to-wall carpeting, curtains, drapes and all other window treatments, window and door screens, awnings, storm doors and windows, installed TV antennas, ventilating, air conditioning and heating fixtures, trash compactor, fireplace doors, gas logs and gas lighters, irrigation fixtures, electric garage door openers, water heaters, installed electrical fixtures, lighting fixtures, shrubs, plants, and trees planted in the ground, other fixtures and all associated operating remote controls.”

     You may think it silly to spell out that the shrubs in the yard stay, but that rose bush in the yard may have been from grandma’s flower garden and is considered an heirloom!  All of these items are specifically listed because of disagreement or lawsuit in the past based on these items!  On the front page of the purchase agreement (term no. 5) there is a place to mark each box for specific included items such as; refrigerator, range, dishwasher, washer, dryer, microwave, or woodstove.  Unless these items are specifically marked, they don’t stay with the property.  Many Realtors® have purchased a refrigerator out their “education fund” because they failed to explain these paragraphs to the seller.  The seller could be in another state with the items before anyone figures that out!

     When the property happens to be a farm or ranch, the buyer should never take it for granted that the panels or portable fencing stays with the property.  Gates, fencing, panels, pumps, water troughs and other amenities that the buyer thought would stay, must be specifically negotiated so there is no misunderstanding.  It is much more prudent to be patient with the burden of extra paperwork than to be faced with the dilemma where the buyer is shorted what they think should have been theirs!