Does it come with the house? How to decide.

As buyers walk through a home it is not uncommon that they fall in love with a certain room or aspect of the home.  Maybe it is the dining room and the beautiful chandelier.  Maybe it is the basketball hoop in driveway.  Maybe it is the six-burner professional grade gas stove in the kitchen.  Whatever the item is, it is important for both seller and buyer to decide what is and what is not included in the sale of the home.

Kitchen light fixtureThe basic real estate rule is when something is “attached” to the home, it comes as a part of the purchase.  This includes light fixtures, ceiling fans, window coverings and built in items.  It makes sense that after purchasing a home you should not walk into a “stripped” home.

However, it could be that the chandelier the buyer fell in love with is a family heirloom of the seller’s.  Maybe it is an antique worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This can cause challenges if not handled properly.  The seller should be clear with the listing agent regarding any fixtures that are not intended to stay with the home. The listing agreement and the purchase contract includes specific line items for “items included” and “items excluded”.

For an item like a family heirloom it might be best to replace the chandelier with a different light fixture prior to the home going on the market.  At minimum the listing agent should state the intentions of the seller to not include the chandelier in the sale and a note placed in the home indicating the same intention. This can be more difficult as there must be an agreement between the buyer and seller on what will be an “adequate” replacement of “equal” value.

The basketball hoop if attached to the roof or embedded in concrete is also considered part of the home. Again, if removing the basketball hoop creates an eyesore on the home the buyer can insist that the concrete or roof trim be repaired and/or the basketball hoop returned to its original condition.  These types of items can be very troublesome and it is the best to remove any fixtures that are not staying with the home prior to advertising the home for sale.

Appliances do not necessarily come with the home.  Typically, if the appliance is included in the sale it is indicated on the multiple listing print out.  If removing the appliance will cause damage, proper repairs must be completed to the buyer’s satisfaction prior to the close of sale.  If an appliance, such as a home entertainment system, is an integrated part of the home or built in in such a way that replacement would be difficult, all parties must agree to the remedy.

Sellers should take extra care to think about what will be a part of the sale and what is up for negotiation.  Buyers should be aware of what items are attached and what items are important to their decision to purchase a specific home.  Intentions and assumptions are key communication points. This is one of those times when the concept of  “make no assumptions” and “everything is negotiable” is particularly important to insuring a smooth deal.