Have you ever bought a house, made it to the final walk through, and someone has ripped down all of the mini blinds you assumed would come with the house? Or on the other end, they haven’t taken down those nasty old blinds that you assumed would go with them, and now you’re stuck having to do it? There are many myths surrounding this issue, so let’s get into the nitty gritty and clarify once and for all.
Personal Property vs. Real Property
Let’s start with the exterior/land. You may have heard the story of the owner who pulled up all of the shrubs and took them with him, prior to closing on the sale of his house. Yes, someone did that. Real property is essentially land, and anything attached to it. You can’t take the shrubs, trees, or any other plantings unless we are talking cultivated crops and such but that’s another article in itself.
Personal property is really anything else that isn’t attached, your personal items -- ie. garden gnomes, bird baths, pink flamingos, etc. You get the jist.
As far as the interior goes, the same rule of thumb applies “anything that is affixed is real property, and stays with the property.” Curtain rods, are attached to the trim/walls so they convey (come with the house) but the curtains themselves do not. A television bracket that is attached to the wall conveys, but not the television itself. A rain barrel that is free standing, beneath a gutter, is considered personal property.
If you are selling your home and there is anything that may fall into that grey area, meaning not covered in Paragraph 2 of your contract, have a conversation about it with your Realtor. If you have a chandelier in your dining room that has been in your family forever or a porch light that you simply can’t part with, my advice would be to swap them out before listing. If that’s not an option for you, have your Realtor write into the listing that these items do not convey to avoid any confusion down the road.
If you are the buyer, I’d say the same goes. If there is something you see in the house that isn’t attached, but you’d like to have it, you can write it in to your offer to purchase. If you just love those dining room curtains, write them in. If there is a wine fridge, not addressed in the listing, and you want it -- write it in.
Now let’s say you want the sellers beautiful $5,000 West Elm sofa, this is a different story. Sometimes people will want to put things like this into the contract, and just roll it into their offer price. This is not a good idea. If you’re going to ask for something of high value, the way to go about it would be in a separate bill of sale.
The property has to appraise, per your lender's requirements, and appraisers couldn’t care less about the value of said sofa. If anything is of high value, do it separately. It’s no fun to deal with the property not appraising on either side of the deal.
As far as appliances go, they are not automatically included. As Realtors, we have this conversation with sellers upon listing. Most of the time, people will include the dishwasher, refrigerator, oven, and microwave if its built in above the oven as the primary hood ventilation system.
These things are included in the listing agreement that we sign with sellers, to clarify exactly what conveys, which also goes into the listing for buyers to know as well. The washer and dryer aren’t always a given, so we’re always sure to ask about those as well. If you’re a buyer, and the washer and dryer aren’t included in the listing but you want them, you can simply ask your Realtor to write them into your offer like anything else. It’s all negotiable when it comes to personal property.
Ultimately, it’s best to be transparent about everything up front so that you don’t run into any issues at the final walk through, just before closing. We are always sure to discuss this topic with sellers prior to listing, and with buyers during our initial buyer consultation. We say this often, but it’s vital: If you’re unsure about anything, have a conversation with your Realtor. We love questions!