Many times, buyers assume that some personal items are included with the property they wish to purchase. They are not always correct! The personal items included with the sale of the property are determined in the Contract to Purchase. The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors® Contract to Purchase indicates the sale of a home includes “the land, together with all improvements thereon” meaning the land and everything that is permanently attached to it (including the house, landscaping, fences, etc.) and several other specific items such as fixtures, awnings, water purifiers, garage door openers/operating devices, built-in appliances and furniture, easements, etc., as listed in Section #4 of the CABR Contract to Purchase. Personal property, items that are not permanently attached (such as paintings, area rugs, furniture, etc.), are not included in the sale.
There are often questions regarding items of personal property that are being used in or on the property that are not permanently affixed or built-in. These items include window coverings, appliances, television antennas, etc. Are these items included in the sale price? In some cases, it’s hard to tell. The answer depends on you. These items are “negotiable” between buyer and seller and should be detailed specifically in the Contract to Purchase.
Built-in appliances are usually included in the sale. Often, free-standing appliances (such as the washer, dryer, refrigerator and stove) can be included if the buyer specifically requests them in the Contract to Purchase and the seller agrees. But don’t assume they will stay. Unless they are specifically included in the Contract to Purchase, a seller is under no obligation to leave them. Also, sometimes, the items you request may be leased; they are not owned by the seller. This needs to be clarified before entering into a binding contract. You should also remember that any appliances that are left behind are often not covered by a warranty. You should ask if they are operable before you request them.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that certain items may be listed as staying with the property on the MLS sheet that need to be included in the Contract to Purchase to become binding. A REALTOR® can help you specify items in the Contract to Purchase so that you clearly communicate all the items you wish, such as fireplace tools, microwaves, water softeners and window treatments (including sheer curtains, draperies, etc.). Be prepared, though, that sometimes the seller will want to exclude some or many fixtures, such as a particular light fixture, from the sale of their property for personal reasons. It is wise to be sensitive to these exclusions so as not to jeopardize the sale.
Contract negotiation usually requires some “give and take.” In general, though, requests for personal property to be included in real estate contracts should be kept to a minimum.
Date: May 15, 1998