Realtors, buyers and sellers should be very specific about what stays with the house.
In real estate sales sometimes each side can interpret differently what stays with the house and what does not. It’s always better to avoid a dispute than win one.
Disputes can arise over;
- Which appliances stay?
- What is considered attached to the house?
- Can expensive light fixtures be taken out and replaced with basic fixtures?
- Is home theater equipment expected to remain?
- Do sheds and mini barns remain?
- How about above ground pools and the sand pit left behind?
- Ponds and the hole left behind?
- Outdoor playgrounds?
- Television brackets and the holes left behind?
- And the list goes on.
Some standard real estate contracts have many items preprinted and special care needs to be taken to review and cross out what the boiler plate contract assumes sellers will always concede.
Some contracts leave it to the buyer to explicitly list what their expectations are.
Stripped or Not Stripped?
Buyers don’t want to find out in pre-closing walkthrough that the house was “stripped”. Sellers don’t want to be accused of “stripping the house” when they thought they were taking their own personal possessions.
Learning The Hard Way
I learned this the hard way when my client sold the outdoor playground to a third party. Luckily the buyers were doing their pre-closing walkthrough when the buyer of the playground showed up to haul it off. The playground was not specifically requested in the contract, but there was language in the standard contract about “play sets attached to the property,” and the buyer did not specifically ask for the equipment.
As you can see in the pictures, it’s ambiguous if the play set is attached. The equipment is lying on the ground and has some stabilization pins. There aren’t any posts driven underground, and it’s not concreted into a foundation.
The pictures are dark because I had to run out and address the problem the night before closing. We presented the situation the following day to an attorney who also agreed it is borderline but said the pins could be argued as a form of attachment.
Fortunately the buyers and their very reasonable Realtor agreed to let the seller sell the play set; otherwise it could have led to a rough ride. Everyone had the right attitude.
Since then our Realtor Association changed the standard contract making the requested items less automatic in favor of the buyer.