What stays and what goes when you buy a new home? While it might seem like a no-brainer that the appliances or light fixtures might be staying, making assumptions like these could burn you come closing day.
Even though it might be customary for certain items to be left behind for the buyer, you’d be well-advised to get it in writing.
Here are 5 things that might not necessarily be included in your new home purchase.
1. Window Treatments
While it’s more common for window treatments to be left with the new home owner, sometimes sellers decide to take them to their new home. Drapes that are used for a decorative purpose might not necessarily stay with the fitted shades. Maybe the seller had the drapes custom-made to match their furniture, and plans to use the combo in the new dwelling.
Just to make things clear, make sure the inclusion of the window coverings is in writing in the purchase agreement. Don’t just assume that they’ll stay.
You might think it’s the norm to have appliances left behind after the sale of the property is complete. But, just like window treatments, perhaps the seller wants to take them with them. And if they are included, they might not exactly be what you thought you were getting.
Picture this: the listing and agreement specified that the appliances were included, but the description wasn’t specific enough. Imagine your shock when you move into the home and find that the seller had replaced the high-end stainless steel appliances with cheaper versions! If the agreement doesn’t specify the precise appliances to be left on the property, you could be left with less than what you bargained for, and be forced into litigation to get those original appliances back.
Rule of thumb: always put it in writing. Ensure that “existing” appliances are included. Take things a step further and spell out the precise appliances to be included, such as the Sub Zero Refrigerator or the Kenmore gas range.
3. TV Mounting Equipment
Flat screens are typically mounted to the wall, using mounting brackets to keep them suspended. Many buyers make the mistake of assuming that these brackets will be left behind after the sellers dismount their flat screens and take them to their new home. But these accessories are actually becoming more commonly negotiated items in real estate transactions.
Mounting equipment can be expensive, so a lot of sellers are going to want to take them with them. As a buyer, don’t assume that any mounting brackets will be staying behind after the sale, even though they are technically considered “fixtures” that are attached to the walls. Make sure this inclusion (or exclusion) is penned on paper.
4. Pool Accessories
The in-ground pool is obviously going to stay, but the accessories needed to maintain it might not. Items such as pool chemicals, vacuums, skimmers and cleaning equipment are all considered personal property, which the seller has the right to take with them when they vacate. The purchase agreement should specify whether the pool accessories stay or go.
Lighting is typically considered a fixture in a home, which is why buyers will most likely expect them to stay. But if they discover that the gorgeous chandelier in the foyer or the pendant lighting in the kitchen have been removed at their pre-closing walk-through, they’ll be less than impressed.
Unless the seller explicitly states that the item is not included in the sale of the home, they should stay with the home. However, lots of lighting involves simple plug-and-play, which is not considered a “fixture.” Even if the lighting has been mounted to the wall, if they’re not hard-wired, the seller might take them with them.
Making assumptions when it comes to a real estate transaction can leave you sorely disappointed when you realize you didn’t get what you thought you would. The bottom line is, everything that you want to stay in the home should be written down with specific descriptions, including the make and model if necessary.
Don’t leave it for moving day to find out your mailbox is missing, or the stainless steel fridge and stove were swapped with old 1970’s green ones. Your best bet? Work with a professional realtor who is experienced when it comes to the game of give and take in real estate negotiations and contracts.