Imagine you’ve fallen in love with a home and signed a contract to buy it. Right before the closing you walk through one last time and discover that the beautiful sparkling chandelier in the two-story foyer has been replaced with a smaller plain one. The seller took the original for their new home. In general, anything nailed, mounted, or screwed to the building structure gets conveyed with the home—the buyer keeps it. Ultimately, however, the contract has the answer. If the chandelier was documented as an exclusion in the contract and you signed it, you agreed to the removal. If the chandelier was not specifically mentioned as an exclusion in the contract, it’s your right to get it back or negotiate compensation for it.
Contract Lists Items that Stay
The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors® purchase contract contains a section that explicitly states what must stay with the home when it’s conveyed and which items are excluded from this list. In general, anything affixed to the home’s structure or in the ground of the yard should be conveyed with the property. Review this list before the final signing. Verbal mention of excluding specific affixed items is not enough to legally ensure a seller can walk away with them. Exclusions must be agreed upon in the purchase contract.
Here are affixed items listed on the CABR purchase contract that define what legally stays with the real estate when you buy a home:
∙ heating and air conditioning equipment, including window units
∙ bathroom mirrors and fixtures
∙ window rods
∙ window/door screens, storm windows/doors
∙ affixed mirrors/floor covering
∙ wall-to-wall, inlaid and stair carpeting (attached or otherwise)
∙ fireplace inserts/grates
∙ fireplace screens/glass doors
∙ wood stove
∙ gas logs and starters
∙ television and/or sound system mounting brackets (excluding televisions and/or sound system), aerials/rotor operating boxes/satellite dishes (only non-leased components)
∙ water softeners
∙ water purifiers
∙ central vacuum systems and equipment
∙ garage door openers/operating devices
∙ the following built-in appliances: ranges/ovens/microwaves/refrigerators/dishwashers/garbage disposers/trash compactors/humidifiers
∙ all security alarm systems and controls
∙ all affixed furniture/fixtures
∙ utility/storage buildings/structures
∙ inground/above ground swimming pools and equipment
∙ swing sets/play sets
∙ affixed basketball backboard/pole
∙ propane tank/oil tank and contents thereof
∙ electronic underground fencing transmitter and receiver collars
∙ and parking space(s) and storage unit (include numbers where applicable)
Exceptions, Inclusions, and Exclusions Can Apply
Exceptions to the above list are items that may be leased, in whole or in part (the seller should check off boxes of which ones apply in the exceptions section of the contract). A seller cannot convey items he doesn’t own. These exception items include:
∙ water softener
∙ security/alarm system
∙ propane tank
∙ satellite dish
∙ satellite dish components
Following this list in the contract is the opportunity to write in “inclusions” that do not add value to the home but may be desirable for the buyer. These are typically items that are not considered affixed to the home and fall under personal property. For example, notice that a washer and dryer are not listed in the appliance section of what stays. Sellers or buyers may use this section to write in that the washer or dryer stays with the real estate. A final contract signature indicates agreement by both parties. Sometimes buyers are recommended to specify in this section that the same appliances they viewed should stay, identified by brand and model, so that sellers do not swap them for cheaper models before they move.
Finally, the “exclusions” portion of a purchase contract is where a seller can deem typically included items as not part of the sale. This strategy can be risky as buyers can use the exclusion as a negotiating point. That’s why it’s safer and more prudent for sellers to remove anything they wish to keep prior to marketing their home. Making specific parts of the property a negotiating point can end up hurting the home sale.
Real Estate Term of the Week
Exclusions: Anything listed under the “Exclusions” portion of the home purchase contract that specifically states which items affixed to the real estate will not be conveyed with the property. In other words, the seller intends to take them to their next home. Sometimes items that are considered a gray area are listed as exclusions so that both parties are clear about what the seller intends to keep.