When you love a home enough to put in an offer to purchase, you’ve probably got a mental list of all the features of the home that had you swooning. The carpets are like new, plush, and just the right color. The lighting in the foyer is spectacular. The elegant cabinet handles and drawer pulls in the bathroom vanity add just the right aesthetic. The extra shelving in the laundry area is practical and convenient. The island in the kitchen coupled with state-of-the-art appliances have you daydreaming about cooking up something wonderful. The hot tub on the patio is practically begging you to take a twilight soak.
Yes, all these things combined make it well worth the amount you’ve agreed to pay. How disenchanting is it on moving day, then, when you arrive at your new abode and find it stripped to the bones? It’s hardly recognizable. The appliances are gone. The Island in the kitchen: gone. Even the carpet seemed to have gotten up and walked away. And what’s worse is that you have no recourse. Those items were not specified in the contract as included with the purchase. So how do you know what does or does not come with the house you buy?
What Stays | Fixtures
Fixtures in a house are items that are attached to the structure and cannot be easily removed by unscrewing hardware. These items include things like the water heater, plug sockets and light switches, sink, bath, shower, and toilet, light fittings, and anything built in or sealed into the structure such as fireplaces.
What Goes | Fittings
Fittings are belongings that are freestanding, easy to move away from the property with little or no effort. These items include things like wall mounted televisions, appliances, furniture, window dressings, light bulb covers or chandeliers, carpet if it’s not nailed down, mirrors, artwork, satellite dishes or antenna for television reception, even the hot tub on the patio.
What You See in a Home is Not Necessarily What You Get | Personal Property
You may understand that you’re not buying a furnished house. You have your sofa, bed, dressers, and other furniture you’re bringing with you. But you can’t assume that things like the stove, refrigerator, washer, dryer, or other necessities come with the house you buy.
Anything that’s not permanently attached to the house is considered personal property. If the seller replaced generic light covers with fancy name-brand covers, he or she might have every intention of taking those with them when they move. But how were you supposed to know they weren’t included? They legitimately looked like they were part of the house?
When in Doubt, Ask
When you see an item in a home that you think comes with the home, ask. Love the hot tub? Ask pointedly if the hot tub comes with the sale. Charmed by the stained glass light covers? Ask if they’re included. It’s better to ask ahead of time and know what to expect than it is to assume and find yourself devastated on move-in day.
There are times when sellers are more than happy to part with some of their personal property. The seller may not necessarily want to pack things up and haul them to a new location, but that also doesn’t mean they’re willing to “throw it at no cost” things they’ve invested in to enhance the property. While you don’t want to make the seller feel like their belongings are on display in a yard sale, there’s no harm in offering to buy an item, especially if it looks like it naturally belongs to the house. The worst that can happen when you ask is that the seller will say no. But you won’t know unless you try.
Get it in Writing
Whether you negotiate for personal possessions or not, you’ll still need an inventory in writing, room-by-room, of what does get included with the purchase. If you’re not provided with one, ask for one. And be specific.
Although it may be shady tactics, it’s not unheard of for a house to be marked as “includes appliances,” but when you move in, the state-of-the-art appliances you saw at your walk through have been removed and replaced with low-end substitutes. Shady, yes, but also perfectly legal. So when you review your inventory list, make sure it’s specific to brand names, colors, and other identifying factors to ensure that you’ll be receiving the same appliances, not sad replacements.
Unless specified with documentation as being included, the house you buy does not come with a home warranty. Buying real estate isn’t like other purchases – if it’s broken, you can’t return the receipt to the store to request exchanges or refunds. Once the house has passed appraisal, inspection, title check, and the transaction is done, all sales are final. Ask the seller if a home warranty is included. A home warranty will protect you for the first year after the closing date of your purchase in the event of major systems malfunctions.
Things You Might Not Have Thought Of
You know you’ll be paying for the home mortgage loan and utilities, you may have even considered closing costs. But many first-time buyers don’t realize that with the purchase of their home comes the requirement to have a homeowner’s insurance policy. As the new owner, you’ll also inherit the property taxes. Furthermore, if the house you’re buying is in a community governed by a homeowners’ association, you’ll also be subjected to those rules, regulations, and HOA fees.
Don’t set yourself up for a nasty surprise on move-in day. Don’t assume that anything you see in a house on your walk through will also be there on the day you move into your new home.
If you see something in the house you love, ask the seller if it’s included, and offer to purchase the item separately from the home.
Any item you believe should be in the home when you take ownership should be well defined with identifying details in writing in the contract.
Talk with your real estate agent when touring homes to determine what does or does not come with the house you buy.
Your real estate agent is the best source of information about the local community and real estate topics. Give Sheri George a call today at 704-224-1166 to learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house, or tour available homes for sale.