What is included in a home sale?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty of Newport

It's helpful to understand the difference between real property and personal property. Real property refers to the land and anything that is permanently attached to it, such as a house, trees, shrubs and a fence. Personal property is movable--things that are not permanently attached to real property. Furniture, clothing, art work and potted plants are examples of personal property. A fixture is an item of personal property that is attached to the real property and is therefore treated as real property such as plumbing and light fixtures. Fixtures typically transfer to the buyer with the real property unless they are specifically excluded from the sale. Personal property, however, is not usually included in a home sale.

Buyers sometimes assume that an item of personal property is included in the sale because it appears to be a fixture -- that is, it looks like it's permanently attached. For example, a microwave oven can appear to be built-in when it is actually only set into an opening in a cabinet. If it's not permanently attached and the sellers are not including it in the sale, it is the seller's personal property. A decorative mirror hung on a hook, like a piece of artwork, is personal property. Even though the mirror might at first glance appear to be a fixture, it's not unless it's permanently attached to the wall. The attachment issue is critical. A toilet is personal property when it's sitting on display at a home renovation store. It becomes a fixture and part of the real property when it is permanently installed in someone's house.

FIRST-TIME TIP: Your purchase contract should include clauses that describe what is and what is not included in the sale. Built-in appliances, window coverings, plumbing and light fixtures and tacked down carpets are usually included as part of the real property. Freestanding appliances are not part of the real property. So unless the seller specifically includes them, they are not included. Sometimes sellers want to exclude items that are permanently attached to the property, such as a dining room chandelier. As long as you agree to this and it's written into the purchase agreement, the seller can take the fixture with him when he moves. Buyers often request items of personal property such as a washer and dryer or refrigerator. If the sellers agree to this as part of your negotiation, it should be written into the purchase contract. The purchase contract is a legally binding document. If the sellers offer to leave items of personal property that you don't want like an old freezer, make sure your contract includes a clause stating that personal property and debris will be removed by the time of closing. Buyers of new homes need to be extra careful. Homes in new home developments are usually pre-sold before they are constructed. The buyers make their purchase decisions based on a seeing a model home. The model home may look very different from the home they're buying.

THE CLOSING: Model homes are often enhanced with upgraded finishes and designer furniture. You may fall in love with a model that has granite counter tops and marble bathrooms. However, the quality finishes in the model home may only be available for an additional price.



Posted by:


John Cain
Broker Associate

Keller Williams Realty
809 Aquidneck Avenue
Middletown, RI 02842


Sales - Rentals - Property Management

Licensed Realtor In Rhode Island & Massachusetts


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