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Lisa Heindel's Blog

Life, Fun and Real Estate on the West Bank of New Orleans

By Lisa Heindel | Broker in New Orleans, LA

I Thought That Came With the House

There is nothing more disheartening to a home buyer or seller than to have a dispute arise right before closing about what is actually included in the sale of a house.  Usually, this comes up during the final walk through when the buyer discovers that an item they thought was part of the contract has been removed by the seller.

Most sellers are not trying to be underhanded when they move out of a home, but often they don’t realize what is actually in the Louisiana purchase agreement that the buyer expects to find when they take possession of their new house.

Purchase agreement inclusionsWhile you can review that entire portion of the purchase agreement above, let’s go a little more in-depth about items that seem to cause the most disputes between buyers and sellers and lead to hard feelings at the closing table.

Installed speakers or sound systems

More than once, I have had a seller remove speakers that were wired into a wall or ceiling without realizing that they were violating the terms of the purchase agreement.  If you have built-in speakers in your home (including outdoor speakers) that you don’t plan to make a part of the sale, it’s important to be sure that your contract specifically excludes those items.  The same goes for any built-in surround sound system or stereo systems. 

Adding a couple of lines of clarification to the purchase agreement can keep this from becoming an issue.  Even better, be sure that your agent knows up front what is/is not included in the sale so it can be addressed in your property disclosure that the buyer must read and sign.

washing machine All installed appliances

Even if an appliance is not advertised in the MLS as being included in the sale, if a dispute arises a mediator will be forced to stand by what is in the executed contract between the buyer or seller.  Don’t leave any room for misinterpretation! 

Exclude the washer and dryer that are going to your new home and be sure you remember to address not only the refrigerator in the kitchen, but that extra refrigerator or freezer that’s hanging out in the garage as well.

Ceiling fans

I know…who takes a ceiling fan?  People do it all of the time.  If a particular ceiling fan is not included in the sale, my advice is always to remove and replace it before the house goes on the market.  Don’t let a squabble over such an inexpensive item derail your closing at the last minute.

Lighting fixtures and bathroom mirrors

Just like ceiling fans, these are attached items that are part of the property sale.  Again, if you plan to take Aunt Martha’s crystal chandelier with you when you move, it’s better to replace it before the first buyer ever walks through the door. 

Too many times, people will dig in their heels over a lighting fixture or a mirror that is just perfect for the bathroom and end up in a nasty argument over who it belongs to.  If it was not excluded in the contract, a seller will be forced to either return the item or pay the buyer for replacement.  Believe me, you would much rather replace that light fixture ahead of time than get stuck trying to negotiate a fair value right before the closing.

All window coverings, blinds and associated hardwarecurtains

I make it a habit to go over window coverings with all of my sellers in detail because these seem to be the things that cause the most trouble for people.  Unless you have specifically excluded them, every curtain, blind, shade, rod, shutter and valence is assumed to be a part of the sale. 

Plan on taking those custom curtains that match your bedspread?  It needs to be in the contract. 

Can’t live without those curtain rods with the fleur-de-lis finials on them?  Change those rods before the house goes on the market to avoid any misunderstandings caused by doing it right before you move.

What about items not listed in the contract?

Buyers should be aware that if there are any other items they want to include in the sale, it must be part of the contract.  Don’t be surprised when the patio furniture, the BBQ grill, the potted plants and porch swing are gone if you have not negotiated that into your purchase from the seller.

Every item that causes a deviation from the standard contract language needs to be addressed – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Remember, in a real estate sale if it’s not in writing, it’s not real!

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