Personal Property: The MLS is NOT the contract! Argh!!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes RS-78439 / BRE #01708344

Personal Property:  The MLS is NOT the contract!  Argh!!

Personal Property is an issue that almost always comes up during a real estate transaction.  In the easiest definition of terms, "personal property" would be anything that is not permanently attached to the home.

Some typical examples of that would be appliances such as a refrigerator that is free-standing, washer and dryer, a free-standing microwave, above-ground spa, potted plants, a free-standing pergola, patio furniture, or in some cases you're crazy Uncle Gooch that lives in the trailer parked behind the garage.


Nonetheless, the MLS (multiple listing service), for the most part, was designated for listing the FEATURES of the home.  I.E. - what the home contains, and certain features surrounding the home and/or qualities about the home and it's location.

The important thing to remember is:  THE MLS IS NOT A CONTRACT

What I mean by this is that you cannot simply claim that everything listed on the MLS is automatically assumed or implied to be included in the sale.

A good example is school districts.  Most MLS sites have a section where you can state what school districts and/or actual schools would be associated with the home.  Does that mean the schools are included in the sale?  Is it assumed that you own the school district when you purchase the home?  Hello?!

If it's a wood-burning fireplace, does that mean you automatically own any chopped wood on the property?  If there are solar panels in the description, does that mean they are automatically included in the sale?  No.

The point being THE CONTRACT IS THE CONTRACT.  The MLS is not a contract.  You cannot claim that "it says it in the MLS".  If there is personal property that you are interested in, the you must WRITE IT INTO THE CONTRACT.  (Or in some cases OUT of the contract if there is some ambiguity about something that needs to be removed from the property prior to closing.)


Personal property is a very important factor you must consider when crafting a residential purchase agreement.  In contractual law, there are no "assumptions"  A contract must have validity to be upheld.


Even if the MLS reads "We hereby and fortwith include the goats, chickens, and our three children in the sale", it means nothing unless it's written into the contract (and in the case of the latter items, approval from social services!)

So many stressful issues can be avoided by just sticking to the contract.  It's so simple.  And even if and when there is an unresolved issue, you can always make an addendum to the contract by mutual agreement.  But again, in the form of a WRITTEN agreement.

There is very much weight to the old saying "put it in writing".

So don't be "goated" on by assumptions........


Ralph Gorgoglione / Realtor / HAFA Certified Short Sale Facilitator
Top 3% Realtors Nationwide
 John Aaroe Group  /  BRE #01708344
(310) 497-9407 / (661) 927-7355 / (800) 591-6121  /  Fax:  (866) 470-2717
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Comments (57)

Teri Pacitto
Compass - Westlake Village, CA
Real Estate, Your Style...Your Home...My Specialty

Yes agree with you on all stated.  Reading some of the above comments it appears that other states consider that personal property is conveyed if stated in MLS.  So would that mean if the price is stated in the MLS its the price?  Come on...all parties must agree in writing and if it's not in the contract either because the buyer didn't want it or maybe it's old and not worth keeping it stays?  I always review the MLS, discuss the items stated with my clients and write them in or delete them out of the contract prior to opening escrow.  All parties must have a meeting of the minds and understand what they have sold with the real estate transaction and I think we can all agree on that.  

Nov 04, 2015 11:27 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Ralph,

And thus it is better to ask for the refrigerator & counter top microwave, lest some ambitious mover sticks them on the truck. If not in the contract, guess what you will be shopping for on moving day.

Nov 04, 2015 11:36 AM
Mona Lisa Harrison - Greenville, SC
The Help You Need To Sell Your House

In our area, some brokerages have agents include a buyer signed copy of the MLS listing and send it with offer. However, we also have this clause in the sales contract:

12. PERSONAL PROPERTY: No personal property will be transferred or conveyed as a part of this sale. Personal property should be transferred or sold separately by a Bill of Sale (SC Form 503).


Nov 04, 2015 12:24 PM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

We are fortunate that our Texas contracts spell out clearly what stays with the house.  The list gets longer every time the contract is amended, so the confusion continues!

Nov 04, 2015 02:45 PM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Great reminder for those of us preparing and presenting contracts to our clients.  Remember to read and explain the fine print.

Nov 04, 2015 08:02 PM
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Are you sure about this? I've heard that items listed in the MLS and even on flyers will hold up in court. Heck, our compensation is in the MLS and that is upheld.

Nov 04, 2015 10:17 PM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

Nancy Robinson With reference to my comment #17 and your response, very interesting. In Arizona the co-broke is offered in the MLS (and it's a legal requirement that the amount offered in the MLS is actually paid to the Buyer Broker - although they can give it to their client if they want to).  

There is also a Buyer Broker Agreement between  Buyer and Buyer Broker that specifies the Buyer Broker fee.  

But there is no cross reference between that document and the contract between the Buyer and the Seller for the purchase of the property.

Nov 04, 2015 10:26 PM
One Sothebys International Realty - Cooper City, FL
Selling Broward County Homes with Passion!

Great reminder that everything has to be in writing and personal property isn't necessarily conveyes unless expressly stated on contact!

Nov 04, 2015 11:08 PM
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Haven't sold any property with livestock involved. Have sold lots of furnished investment properties. A seller will list anything not included on the contract.

Nov 05, 2015 02:12 AM
Theresa Akin

I have seen many agents state in the MLS; "List of Non-Realty items to convey in documents attachments." 

Nov 05, 2015 06:26 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Good one - goats & chickens!  

Nov 05, 2015 08:06 AM
Marilyn O'Donoghue
Long & Foster Avalon - Avalon, NJ

I work in a resort area where most homes are sold fully furnished.  The problem is mortgage companies don't want to see furniture as included in the sale price.  Some have taken to ask for an inventory sheet.  I make sure to include wording in the contract to include what is stated on the MLS sheet.

Nov 06, 2015 05:14 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

This was a good topic for discussion.  Our Hawaii contract spells it all out too, so there's no confusion.

Nov 07, 2015 11:00 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

Ralph, you make total sense & many agents feel the MLS sheet is a part of the contract when in fact it's not. Too many refrigerators, disposals, etc are paid for by agents that should use this common sense tactic.


Nov 08, 2015 01:21 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

If it is attached in a permanent manner it needs to be excluded if the sellers wish to keep it.  It not attached it needs to be included if the buyer wants it.  If not sure what it is make sure to mention it.  I would consider a solar panel included unless specifically excluded. 

Nov 11, 2015 12:20 AM
Tammy Adams ~ Realtor / Podcaster
Maricopa Real Estate Co - Maricopa, AZ
A Maricopa Agent who Works, Lives & Loves Maricopa

I was just having this conversation earlier today. Great point to always cover with both sides!   Darn, I liked the idea of giving away the brats and the goats too!  

Nov 11, 2015 10:47 AM
Dana Cottingame
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Dallas, TX

I agree with put it in writing and it is a good topic to visit with both buyers and sellers. One of my first clients sold their house with a Koi pond. In Texas the Koi convey with the property. So no goats but fish.

Dec 15, 2015 02:37 AM
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
HomeSmart - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Ralph - Always best to put everything you want to include in the offer, in the offer in writing. Never assume just because the MLS says "includes washer and dryer and fridge", that they will be left for the buyer at Close of Escrow. Put it in writing in the contract.

Feb 08, 2016 11:35 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Ralph, it all boils down to, "What does the contract say?"

Feb 08, 2016 12:11 PM
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Ralph-If a Buyer wants it, should put it in writing in the contract or addendum. Good explanation.

Feb 10, 2016 11:58 AM