When you buy a home, do you know what will come with it?

kitchenDo you get to keep all the appliances, the art on the walls or the bird bath in the garden? Determining what will stay with the home and what will go with the seller will vary from transaction to transaction. Here’s how to determine what conveys with the home you’re considering, as well as tips to safeguard yourself when negotiating those extra items:

  1. Check the listing information in the MLS. Ask your broker if the property has been on and off the market, and if it has, ask to see the original listing. Hopefully the seller specified the items included in their home’s asking price in one or the other of the printouts.
  2. When in doubt, know the screwdriver rule. For the most part, if it takes a screwdriver to remove something, it’s considered real property - which is to say, a part of the property. This includes shelves, light fixtures and even curtain rods. But, if it’s hung on a nail and is removable, it's considered personal property and likely not included in the sale.
  3. But, whether real or personal, all terms in a real estate transaction is negotiable. Negotiate with the seller if there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t declared part of the sale... or even if it is expressly excluded from the sale. Remember, the answer is always no until you ask! For example, when something is obviously personal property like a riding lawn mower or pool table, include it in your offer as the seller might not want to deal with moving/selling them.
  4. Important Caveat - if the seller agrees to include big-ticket items, like a riding mower, you’ll want to discuss this up front with your mortgage lender. Depending on the type of loan you have, it could affect the appraisal or change the value of the property where you might have to pay cash for the item instead of being able to roll it into the mortgage. 

So, here are a few things you should know: unless the seller specifies that the washer, dryer and/or refrigerator convey, you should assume they’re not included. Same goes for the bird bath or anything else sitting on the ground, patio, or porch. You only get what is built in or fastened to the property. This said, I've seen sellers remove curtains/rods and even dig up plants/flowers. Both sellers and buyers need to be informed as to what is real and what is personal property!