Sometimes, in real estate, things aren’t always what they appear, and the most common disputes often arise over items in the house the buyer thought were staying, and the seller did not. This includes kitchen appliances.
I recently negotiated contract on a house where there was a nice, all black, appliance package in the kitchen. There was also an old, off white, refrigerator in the garage. According to the listing, a refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, and gas range all conveyed. Naturally, one would assume that meant the all black appliances that were in the kitchen were staying. There was nothing in the listing, nor was anything in the house labeled that would indicate otherwise.
Fortunately, there’s a section in our contract where we can check off standard items that convey, like appliances, pool equipment, blinds, and fireplace items. We can also write in non-standard items like security systems and garage door openers. We also have some free space where we can write full sentences and define items further. We don’t use this space very often, but when we do it’s usually important that we’ve done so. This was one of those times.
My client didn’t want the garage refrigerator at all, and was wisely skeptical of whether or not the seller intended to convey the black refrigerator. So just in case, we used the extra space to say “Black refrigerator currently in kitchen to convey”. You wouldn’t think this would be necessary, given the information we had, but it turns out that it was! I found out during negotiations that the seller agreed to leave the black refrigerator, even though she was planning to take it to her new residence. If we hadn’t said anything in the offer, she would have taken it with her and left my buyers with the old, ugly refrigerator!
Imagine that – you think your about to move into a new home with a nice, matching refrigerator with side by side doors and water dispenser, and you show up at final walkthrough only to find an old dingey refrigerator from 1978 sitting in it’s place. What a disaster that would be. And all you’d hear from the other side is that they conveyed a refrigerator, and we didn’t specify which one, so we got what we asked for. This would be followed by an undoubtedly evil laugh.
I think this is a great example of why, in real estate contracts, you always have to be specific when there’s ever even the slightest doubt. Making assumptions is never the right move, especially when it comes to items that are conveying from seller to buyer. Be detailed, and leave nothing to chance, and your home purchase will be that much more enjoyable.
Seller tips: To help avoid these problems try and take anything out of the house that isn’t conveying and replace it if you can. For example, if you have a nice chandelier that you want to take to your next home, take it down before you put your house on the market and replace it with a less expensive one. This will also ensure that the house is being represented appropriately in the listing photographs. If you don’t change it out, the buyers will use it as a bargaining chip against you during negotiations, and you could end up losing it. Also, label anything in the house that must be there, but you’re planning to take with you, and have your agent make notes in the listing for other agents as to what items you will not be conveying to the buyers.