The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

What do I get?

Your real estate agent has shown you a beautiful, occupied home that is for sale. You’ve decided it is the perfect one for your family and have signed a contract. So what should you expect to be left in the house on the day you move in? Those lovely curtains in the front window… should you go out looking for some that are similar or will they still be there? What about the high tech fridge in the kitchen just like you’ve always wanted? Was that part of the deal?

These are questions that homebuyers and even sellers often have during the home buying process. It’s easy to get confused about what inside and outside of the house is actually considered part of the house, and therefore has been sold with the property. It seems pretty clear that things like doorknobs and light fixtures should go with (although there have been sellers who have even been confused about that one… can you imagine walking into your newly acquired historical home with antique fixtures, only to discover that all of the crystal doorknobs went with the seller to their new home in Massachusetts?), but the area seems to get a bit grayer when you talk about bedroom valances that match the duvet.

Luckily, the answer to this is spelled out fairly clearly in the Arizona approved Residential Reseal Real Estate Purchase Contract in the middle of the first page in a paragraph entitled Fixtures and Personal Property. It states:

Seller agrees that all existing fixtures on the Premises, and any existing personal property specified herein, shall be left upon the Premises and included in this sale.

This basically means that anything that is a ‘fixture’ or something attached in a permanent manner goes with the house. Anything that is easily removed (simply unplugged or lifted off a hook on the wall) is considered ‘personal property’ and will not convey with the house unless it is specifically written into the contract. To eliminate any further confusion, the contract continues with this paragraph:

Including the following (these are fixtures): storage sheds; electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling equipment; free-standing range/oven; built-in appliances; light fixtures; ceiling fans; window and door screens, sun screens; solar systems; storm windows and doors, shutters, awnings; water-misting systems; fire detection/suppression systems; towel, curtain and drapery rods, draperies and other window coverings, attached floor coverings; air cooler(s) and/or conditioner(s); attached fireplace equipment; pellet, wood-burning or gas-log stoves; garage door openers and controls; timers; mailbox; attached TV antennas (excluding satellite dishes and operating equipment); and all existing landscaping, including trees, cacti and shrubs, fountains, and lighting. In addition, if owned by Seller, the following items also are included in this sale: pool and spa equipment including any mechanical or other cleaning systems; security systems and/or alarms; water softeners and water purification systems.

The good news is, that of course, everything is negotiable. If you have an heirloom chandelier that’s been in the family for 60 years and you have every intention of keeping it that way, as a seller, you have a couple of options. The first is to take it down and put it away before you begin showing the house. If the missing chandelier leaves an ugly gap, it might be a good idea to buy a cheap replacement at a garage sale to fill it in. The other option is to let your real estate agent know that you want it written into the contract that it does not convey. Your agent can then let buyers’ agents know you wish to keep the item, and if necessary, you can make a counteroffer that specifies you are allowed to keep your chandelier. The important thing to remember is to take care of this before the purchase contract has been signed. It’s not impossible to amend a contract after it’s been signed, but your leverage as a seller to do such things quickly disappears.

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