When you visit a home for sale, you might assume that certain things would be included with the deal, such as the appliances, light fixtures and window treatments. Yet these items are not always included in the sale. What’s included in a home sale can vary by local custom, which is another reason why having an Exclusive Buyer Agent is so important!
Unsuspecting buyers often take the home purchase at face value, assuming what they see is what they get. But without a well-written sales contract, surprises can occur. Home sellers might remove high-end appliances and substitute them with low-end models. Or, they might remove select appliances, arguing that the “appliances included” marketing didn’t mean the microwave or mini-fridge in the rec room.
Disputes can happen over light fixtures, high-end faucets and shower heads, or virtually anything that can be detached. Air conditioning units, hot tubs, satellite dishes and even central vacuum systems have been dismantled and removed by sellers to the shock and dismay of the new owners.
When post-closing lawsuits arise over a missing item, the “method of attachment” rule is examined by the courts. This helps determine whether the item was a true fixture that should have been conveyed with the home, or a removable object that would be considered personal property. An item that is bolted in, glued in, hardwired or cemented to the structure is generally considered a permanent fixture. Described another way, a permanent fixture is anything that would take tools to remove. However, if the item can be easily removed without damage to the structure, it could be considered personal property. Some household items, such as wall-mounted flat-screen televisions, could be argued into either category.
The “tool test” is a basic rule of thumb, but the legal definition of a fixture vs. a personal possession can be murky. For this reason, courts also consider the intent of the sale, the relationship of the parties, and the adaptability of the item when ruling on disputes.
Ultimately, a well-written sales contract is the best way to determine what is staying with the home! Your Exclusive Buyer Agent will negotiate on your behalf, and protect you with contractual language that serves your best interests.